Teaching Travails

Human Being

For most teachers, Education Support (ES), assistant principals and principals, Term 2 sees a peak in workload. The pressures of report-writing and related activities are part of this already-excessive burden. 

So begins the email from the Australian Education Education, ever battling the state government to make conditions for teachers better.

I don’t agree with the premise: I would have, decades ago when I started teaching, but not now … for the simple reason that having peaks depends on having troughs … and these days, there are no troughs, there is merely one continuous speed — frenetic.

So what are the major changes I have witnessed, in the three decades I have been active in the education sector? In a nutshell:

  1. Inclusion of children with disabilities
  2. Increase in numbers of students with learning difficulties and conditions, anxiety and mental illness, including lack of self-regulation
  3. Increased mandatory curriculum
  4. Increase in our needing to assess our students
  5. Vastly increased administrative load for teachers

See my upcoming posts for my take on these five points.

So, my Union asks me to

record any report-writing related work that you complete outside of your 38-hour week, or pro-rata hours if you are part-time. If your school uses a ‘continuous reporting’ approach, please estimate how many hours you have done over the course of the term in relation to report-writing tasks.

because

Together we can build a picture of the unpaid work you do in giving students (and their parents/carers) an insight into their progress. Through this picture we can build more pressure on state government MPs to address your excessive workload.

While I agree that statistics are useful in presenting unambiguous data that can’t be argued against (by the political ‘enemy’ of the Union, the Department which employs us), I can’t help but sigh inside … another demand on my time that will add to my workload … just to stop these two traditional ‘enemies’ warring, when what I’d like to see is them modelling good behaviour by working together for a shared solution instead of descending, once more, into combat … and to what avail?

It’s true, the Union ‘won’ a Professional Planning Day for every teacher, once per term, to give a ‘clear day’ of no classes that we can concentrate on marking, assessment, planning and other teacherly activities. A welcome respite!

YET

It shouldn’t be necessary. It wouldn’t have been necessary thirty years ago, when the troughs provided that catch-up time. If we still had those troughs we wouldn’t need Professional Planning Days to simulate them! So — can you feel my frustration in my words? — this is still Just Tinkering Around The Edges and Not Addressing Core Issues of how Australia’s (and let’s face it, the western world’s, as Australia emulates other countries’ approaches) education system works.

*SIGH* Time to wonder whether my vocation is really worth the cost … again *SIGH*

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