From the VP: Dealing with the crisis: work, communication and goodwill
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 125 No 5, 10 July 2020, page no.9
Recently, I have reflected on teaching and the role teachers and school leaders play. This might be in their jobs, in their schools and in the community.
I have reflected on the number of times I have had formal conversations with parents and their children. Or the incidental conversations with families at the shops or football on the weekend. The number of times parents say “I have said exactly the same thing at home, but my child just wouldn’t listen to me.” Or, “My child won’t believe me when I say that, but says ‘Miss says this at school…’”.
I’ll bet just about every single one of us has found ourselves in a similar conversation at one time or another in our careers.
I don’t recall ever experiencing this conversation as a parent until recently. During the remote and flexible learning period, I was offering my own children my help and experience to assist them. The number of times I was told “No thank you. My teachers have told me what to do and how they want it done”. It became a common phrase.
Teachers and school leaders totally reimagined the teaching and learning of students. Not once, with the move to remote and flexible learning. Not twice, with the return of preps and years 1,11 and 12 back to the school, while many of you were still teaching across more year levels. But three times, with the return of all students at the end of May. And we are still not back to business as usual.
Throughout this time, you have done significantly more than what is required to deliver quality education and support to the students in your classes, subjects and schools. You have enacted the privilege it is to be a teacher and have made a difference to the students in your care.
Has anything changed though? If yes, what has changed?
Most students were probably relieved to get back to the normality of routine and embraced the structure and expertise provided within the school.
Many parents also appeared to be relieved to return their children to the normality of the schooling routine. I would suggest it goes further than that though. Parents and the wider community are now more acutely aware than ever of the value that teachers, school leaders and everyone within the school gate provide. It has been harder than first thought for many to support their children at home. The words you use, how you support students, your intricate pedagogical knowledge; your curriculum knowledge and experience all outline the expertise of teaching. It is a nuanced world in which we work on a daily basis.
In light of this, it is an opportunity to reset the work we do. As a frontline, and absolutely essential, service, it is time to pause and reflect on the sheer load of work we do. Why have we chosen this path? It is clearly not for the 9-3 supposed hours of work. We all have a compelling reason why we chose teaching as our profession. Can we take a moment to pause and reflect? What is essential to the work that we do every day? What can we do without? The past months have been reimagined, so returning to business as usual would seem a strange thing to do.
Take the opportunity of COVID-19 to determine the importance of the work done.
Let’s reimagine our worth; the work we do; how it is done. What is superfluous to requirements? Is there a better way? Is there a way to streamline things? What is the purpose and who requires it?
The recent pandemic has shown us how valued we are to students, the parents, the community. What a shame that many of Queensland’s elected officials don’t seem to be on the same page.