Ask our teachers about the best part of their jobs and most will say how much they love working with children, watching them discover and learn and making a positive difference in their lives.
Ask about the most demanding parts of their jobs and most will say an increased workload, the impact on their personal lives and the challenges of dealing with students and parents who show a lack of respect. As a result, good teachers are leaving the profession.
It’s not unique to Moriah or indeed to Australia. According to a recent article in Education Matters magazine, together with America and Britain, we are experiencing a worldwide epidemic with 20 percent of teachers leaving the profession in their first three years and up to 50 percent within five years.
Teacher wellbeing at Moriah
Happy teachers make students feel wonderful about learning, school and themselves. They inspire, enlighten and encourage students to learn, regardless of the subject matter.
With a focus on teacher wellbeing, Moriah is introducing a number of initiatives to nurture and sustain our educators and help create vibrant and joyful learning environments.
- providing more faculty time so that teachers have more opportunities to share outstanding practice, plan and create teaching and learning activities that provide academic rigour and work on assessment design;
- creating more flexibility for staff members around their professional learning requirements,
- planning professional learning across the year that is linked to wellbeing;
- encouraging improved behaviour from students and parents and;
- reviewing the role of our Teacher Mentors so that we are in a position to support all our teachers to facilitate great learning with their students.
We also need to look after our teachers – they are the critical and pivotal force in providing an environment where students can feel safe, happy, healthy and therefore, learn!Wellbeing Australia survey, 2011
What is the role of parents?
It’s all about encouraging relationships built on honest and mutual respect and developing genuine partnerships to support students, in which everyone is treated fairly.
Parents are more involved than ever in their children’s education, which is a good thing, as parents should definitely take an active interest in how their children are doing at school. Parents are searching for the good teachers, teachers are looking for the supportive parents – who will partner with them and have a sense of perspective, patience and are focused on the kind of dialogue which builds supportive and productive alliances.
Professional trust and respect
Increasingly, parents seem to forget that teachers are professionals and show a lack of trust in the ability of teachers to do the job they have trained and gained qualifications for. It is important to remember that just because everyone has gone to school, it doesn’t mean everyone is an expert in teaching.
Just as parents have a right to have information communicated to them about their children, teachers and other staff members have a right to be treated in a respectful and courteous manner in their workplace.
As parents, we need to recognise that we are the most significant influences in our children’s lives and we are responsible for instilling good and respectful behaviour. Our children imitate our behaviour and follow the examples we set for them.
When we contradict teachers in front of our children, we’re sending the message that a teacher’s authority is not to be respected and that it’s ‘OK’ to question their professionalism. On the other hand, when we encourage our children to think positively and foster enriching connections with their teachers, we’re positioning them to succeed.
Underestimating a teacher’s workload
Teaching is far more taxing than people often realise.
The pace of a teacher’s day can be relentless with constant switching from class to class under the pressure of a bell and the enormous amount of emotional energy that’s required to do the job well. Outside of school hours, there is lesson preparation, administration and marking demands.
In exit surveys conducted by Moriah, teachers often cite issues with parents’ unreasonable expectations. Emailing at night and on the weekends and expecting an immediate response or wanting their child’s work marked before the rest of the class, are examples.
There’s so much more to learning at school than academic matters. Our children also learn about life and how to conduct themselves in the world. We can’t teach them those important life lessons without positive partnerships with parents.
As educators, we teach because we love working with children. We want them to succeed, just as parents do. Building relationships, knowing that parents trust that we’re doing the right thing by our students and having conversations with a shared goal is the only way to get results.
We are on the same side.
About the Author
Roberta Goot OAM is Acting College Principal and Director of Music and Co-Curricular K-12 at Moriah College in Queens Park, NSW.