From the VP: When enough is enough
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 125 No 1, 21 February 2020, page no. 9
Christmas and New Year festivities have passed. Before you know it, it’s the middle of January, and if you haven’t already, the mind begins to turn towards the new school year almost upon you. You might start to have weird dreams. You might be thinking about your new school/class/classes/students.
Schools everywhere communicate a message of excellence and success for students at their schools. For the most part, this message is wrapped in additional adjectives of opportunity, engagement, success and options.
Then hopefully through your student-free days you get most of your planning done, reconnect with your colleagues, prepare your classroom and are ready for day one. The first teaching day comes and sleeping the night before can be hard. For the most part, day one sets expectations, starts the way you intend to go on and builds new student-teacher relationships and extends other possible pre-existing ones.
By the time you get to reading this article, the shine and gloss of the beginning of the year may have been dulled by day-to-day realities.
It might be beneficial to ask yourself some questions to maintain the enjoyment on a daily basis. They might be:
- Why do I do this particular teaching activity this way?
- Is there a better way?
- Is this critical for delivering outcomes for students?
- What’s the actual purpose of what I’m doing here?
- Is this beneficial for me and my students/ students in my school?
- Whose agenda is this? And why does this agenda exist?
Each year, we all work through the Explicit Improvement Agenda, every few years, we participate in School Improvement Unit Reviews, we use collaboratively developed data plans to inform the teaching and learning cycle, plan rigorous and engaging lessons, guided but not prescribed by a school pedagogical framework.
The QTU continues to win additional resources for our members and schools. We should all ask ourselves though, are these funds being used to reduce workloads and improve professional autonomy?
Teaching, and school leadership is not just about “doing your job”. It’s about doing it as a professional. That includes the “must dos”, but also your judgement on how you do it, and having enough time, energy and flexibility to be able to make those professional decisions.
You deserve the professional autonomy to not only do your job – but to keep enjoying it.
There are many things that we do as professionals that make our work rewarding. The work that we do adds significant value to the community. A recent report indicates that 93 per cent of the population values and appreciates the work that teachers do (politicians can only dream of that kind of approval rating).
Before too long, December 2020 will be upon us and you will be considering the festive season and the school year that has passed. The anticipation of January will be long behind us. For all of us, it will have been a successful year if we have been able to effect change on workload intensification and regained more elements of professional autonomy than currently exist.
For each of us as individuals, it will have been a successful year if we keep finding professional satisfaction from our jobs.