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!
Darcy, I knew I wanted to be a Science Teacher from when I was in Year 8 because I absolutely loved explaining things to people. I really enjoy my time in class with students and love the challenge of engaging students with less ability. The most pleasing and satisfying thing to me is seeing the spark of understanding turn on in a student’s eyes.
I had the opportunity to and could have easily have gone into IT in it’s hey day and made squillions but I settled for less because I love what I do.
My role as relieving HT Administration can be extremely busy but I’m a bit more fortunate than you because I get more teaching time with students, a good balance I think.
I don’t think we would ever see the Business Coucil of Australia recomendation that you mentioned being implemented because of one factor, money! I hope I am wrong.
I think your ‘Disclaimer’ says it all my friend 🙂
While you may lose touch with the class you can still touch, inspire and change sooo many things and people around you and, in these digital times, around the world.
One of the key dimensions of the things you talk about materialising and succeeding is leadership. The funny, paradoxical thing is though that people like you (ie in your positions) are probably more powerful yet at the same time more restricted by the politically departmental butt-kissing, performance-managing tick-a-box-and-don’t-really-rock-the-boat compliance than your average chalkie and his/her kids.
Pick your fights wisely and continue to inspire mate – your staff are bloody lucky to have you on board.
Cheers & enjoy the rest of holidays
One definitely needs to make friends with ‘paradox’.
Thanks for your thoughtful comments Tom and Tomaz – much appreciated.
Interesting posts.Part 1&2.
2.importance of educational leadership…
3.prefer teaching and take any opportunity to be with a class.
These 3 statements possibly reflect some of your life experiences and beliefs.
The DP/P jobs are hard. IMHO, too hard to be sought or accepted for “financial reasons”.
The burden of educational leadership is heavy and far more easily spoken about than done.
The influence at DP/P level is through the varied interactions you have with vast numbers of students, parents and teachers in the course of the day/year. This is what “teaching and learning” is about at SE level.
Your interactions with HTs/teachers, in the context of professional learning, lay the foundation for the next generation of school leaders.
Your class is now the “school leadership” class.
These are some of my beliefs.
May have been different if I had needed the money, who knows?
‘Tis true what you say about the ‘class’ now and I think, having just lost Y12, I feel – excuse the xpression – without class more than anything else.
It would be nice to think that a classroom teacher could earn more money based on their skills and hard work.
I knew I wanted to be a teacher in Kindergaten because my K-5 teacher was awesome. I always knew that was my calling. Now that I am in my 6th year of teaching dealing with children who could care absolutely less about learning anything it is just pure frustrating. I do have on average 5 students per clas that want to learn and they are my motivation to teach regardless. I do not feel adequately rewarded for my time and effort and in FL with all the budget cuts I do not foresee any extra money coming to teachers. Administrators are paid more but in our neck of the woods- they too are underpaid for all the work they do. I have sought positions outside of teaching recently because I am just pure frustrated. I do hope education turns around and there is equal accountability from parents, students, and teachers! Teachers just can’t do it all alone!