Dear Ted…

Dear Ted Baillieu,

I want you to understand why I’m not voting for you in the next election regardless of what happens at tomorrow’s stop work action. I listened to you on the radio this afternoon with your smug disdainful attitude towards what is a very serious matter and I became both angry and disappointed. Every time someone with a perceived position of authority speaks of teachers with disrespect it adds to the already nation wide issue of disrespect that teachers in Australia face. There is a direct correlation between the results students produce and the respect given to teachers. In countries where teachers are held in high regard, the national average is far higher than in countries like ours and America where teachers are regularly put down by the press, the government and other talking heads.

Mr Baillieu, the changes in society has impacted the world of education to such a high degree that gone are the days of “just taking the marking home” and instead here are the days of “I’ll just answer those emails at home after the marking.” This generation of educators not only have to deal with helicopter parents, but they have to deal with tech savvy, needy parents too. When I get to my desk between lessons I regularly have emails from at least 3 or 4 parents demanding all sorts of answers and whilst I am happy to answer them because I care about their child’s progress, I’m bothered by the time it takes to deal with these items.

My working day is not 9 to 5 with my evenings free and thank god I don’t have a family to manage outside of work. No instead my typical working day consists of arriving at 8am (I don’t have to be there until 8:30 but seriously have you seen that pile of work on my desk?). I then attend a morning meeting, then it’s homeroom and then classes. If I’m lucky I have a few “free” periods where I can focus on adjusting my lessons for the rest of the week, mark work, fill in reports, make phone calls to parents, pay some bills, call and arrange camps/excursion details, and of course answer emails from colleagues regarding work that needs to be done. At some point I get to stop for lunch for 15 minutes then it’s yard duty followed by afternoon classes, then it’s staff meetings, or meetings with learning support or meetings with parents. Some lunch times I don’t have to do yard duty instead I have lunch time sport and need to coach or supervise that, those lunchtimes mean either eating on the run or just putting it off until later. I haven’t even mentioned the parent teacher interviews, the report proof reading, the open days or evenings, nor have I mentioned the over night camps, the sporting days or the general fact that my duty of care and responsibility regarding my students is much higher than a parent’s care for their own child.

However even though this sounds like a lot (and it is) I don’t complain because I knew this when I signed up for the job. I knew I would work long hours outside of the 8am-4pm time slot I also knew that there would be busy times and super busy times, but I signed up for it because I enjoy being busy. I didn’t however sign up to be disrespected. I’m in the business of assisting future generations learn the skills that they will need in order to exist in the community at large in their future. I’m not in the business of making money, nor am I in the business of promoting a product, a brand, a company or an organisation. I don’t get a bonus pay when my company makes a profit nor do I get gifts from my place of work. Instead what I get is grudging respect from my students because I push them, I get thank you cards from parents who know their child has done well regardless of the result on their report because their child is finally reading a book, or finally engaged in their education where they weren’t before.

Performance pay is not the answer for dealing with those few teachers who need to be moved on…

Tell me Mr Baillieu how are you going to determine whether I am a successful teacher or not? Are you going to look at the test results of the class I have where half my students have severe to moderate learning disabilities/disadvantages? or are you going to look at the results of the dream class I got lucky with this year? Do you consider the hours I put in behind the scenes or are you going to interview the parents, some of which I may have angered when I told them their child couldn’t attend a camp because they hadn’t done their work? What variables are you willing to consider in order to determine my effectiveness as an educator? Or are you going to just lump this responsibility on our principals who are already over worked? Could I be at risk of never getting a pay rise because I ask the hard hitting questions that keeps my principal on his/her toes? Or could I just be sure to always praise and over support my principal in order to win over a pay rise? I’m tech savy and some of my colleagues aren’t, does that mean they will miss out on a pay rise as I wow and dazzle with flashy gizmos?

Let’s get real for one minute, you made a promise that we would become the highest paid teachers in the country. Most teachers don’t care if they become the highest, however we would like to at least be able to match the pay that our colleagues in other states receive. It’s time to respect the job that educators do. We’re expected to meet the demands that this 21st century is throwing at us so how about you meet our 21st century pay demands?

Regards,

Yet another hard working educator.

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