Holidays always give one room for reflection.
I am really starting to miss classroom teaching. In my role as a deputy principal, at a large state school, there are many opportunities to promote quality teaching & learning but having only one class (who have just finished school to prepare for the HSC) is starting to sadden me greatly.
As one who didn’t have a ‘calling’ to be a teacher (and I have met many teachers who knew they would be teachers from a very young age) it is obvious to me that my greatest professional rewards have come from being in the classroom. Ironically, I never had any intention of seeking promotion for the first decade of my career but was persuaded by colleagues when we needed a relieving HT.
I’ve been a DP for exactly two years and sought the position for financial reasons. Quite simply, no matter how hard you work or try to develop professionally one can just not earn more money (‘merely’) teaching. One is forced out of the classroom by ‘the system’. Of course, I recognise the importance of educational leadership and the responsibilities, challenges and reward this entails. Much of the job is fine but basically I prefer teaching and take any opportunity to be with a class.
You may remember the Business Council of Australia (BCA) recommended earlier this year that teachers achieving a high level of proficiency should be paid up to $130 000. The paper, Teaching Talent: The Best Teachers For Australia’s Classrooms suggested a quality teacher had (p.12):
1. A high level of knowledge, imagination, passion, and belief in, and for, their field.
2. An overriding commitment to, and high aspirations for, their students’ learning.
3. A rich repertoire of skills, methods and approaches on which they are able to draw to provide the right ‘mix’ for the specific needs of individual students.
4. A detailed understanding of the context in which they are working; of the specific expectations of the community; and of the needs of the cohort of students for whom they are responsible.
5. A capacity to respond appropriately to students, individually and collectively, and to the context, through their teaching practice.
6. A refusal to let anything get in the way of their own or their students’ learning, and what they perceive as needing to be addressed.
7. A capacity to engender a high level of respect and even affection from their students and colleagues, a by-product of their hard work and professionalism.
8. A great capacity for engagement in professional learning through self-initiated involvement in various combinations of professional development activities, some provided by the employing authority; others sought out by the individual.
9. A great capacity to contribute to the professional learning of others, and a willingness to do so.
10. Moral leadership and professionalism, in that they exemplify high values and qualities and seek to encourage these in others.
I’d like to think our teachers would have an opportunity to be remunerated on their level of proficiency. The ‘system’ needs nothing less and anyone with the qualities listed above is a highly desirable person to have teaching my children. Industrial issues aside, we need to make progress towards this goal!