Teachers Are An Endangered Species

Waikanae teacher Lisa Geraghty has given warning to local citizens that NZ teachers are now becoming an endangered species.

Lisa, who is  president of the Kapiti branch of the Educational Institute, says:

‘I chose teaching as a profession. I am teacher on the Kapiti Coast.

Passionate about my role, I stay because our children need us.

Six  years to become a fully-registered teacher

Armed with a Bachelor of Arts degree and a postgraduate diploma of Teaching, combined with a further two years of provisional training, it took me six years to become a fully qualified teacher.

I chose a career that demands excellence. Yet, we are not necessarily regarded as professionals by society.

It’s disheartening we have such an adversarial relationship with any government, and are having to justify and prove our skills, our value, our worth, as a profession.

Each year, the government saves money through capping salaries in the education sector. Despite this, government actions are inferring that our children of today are not worth investing in.

Our children are worth investing in!

Increasing teacher shortage

One of the critical issues we are facing in education is a rapidly rising teacher shortage.  Within a two week period this term, at my school, there were three days where teachers were sick and there was simply no reliever available to step in.

Our school is not alone. How can we entice new recruits into teaching? How do we retain quality teachers? Other occupations offer less of a multifaceted workload, half of the professional development expectations, are less emotionally and mentally taxing than teaching, require less skills, and offer better remuneration. Teaching as a career option today simply cannot compete.

The personal cost

We care so deeply for our students that it comes at a personal cost. The increasing learning and behaviour needs of our learners, class sizes, and administrative expectations behind the scenes mean we are often unable to prioritise the needs of our own families and own health and wellbeing.

Our students come first. To top it off, we inject our own incomes back into the classrooms. This is what it takes to commit ourselves to other people’s children professionally in an underfunded, seemingly undervalued sector. The fact that we “teach for love” has held the system up. We don’t clock in. We never clock out!

Ultimately, our children will pay the price

People often say to me: leave. That statement, to me, demonstrates a lack of understanding about how vital our sector is.

We are no longer expendable. And we are leaving. We are leaving in large numbers, with few new recruits able or wanting to replace us. Ultimately, it is our children that pay the price.

We cannot afford as a Nation to be complacent.

Our children need us. But teachers are an endangered species.

Lisa, have teachers thought of simply refusing to do unnecessary assessments and other data collection jobs? A form of civil disobedience that could be coordinated between local schools. Parents could be advised that you are doing this, and encouraged to send messages of support to the Ministry and Principals.

And, you must put your family first. Put school out of your mind and enjoy your weekends!

Nga mihi

Please don’t go Let us as parents / grandparents advocate were you can’t I believe good teachers who are passionate and have are childrens futures high on their priority lists.♥️

I believe this attitude towards teachers, though always there in a minority of parents, was exacerbated by the neo-liberalism that pervaded every profession, including teaching, during the late 1980s and 90s, until the GFC in 2007. I had friends doing Masters courses in educational leadership who couldn’t believe how prescriptive the curriculum had become, how full of input and output theory and treating teachers and students as commodiities, the latter to be spilled out of secondary schools in droves to enter management schools at universiites because accountancy, marketing and management seemed to be the only available jobs. Oh, and computing of course, so that 20 year olds could earn three times as much as their parents.
Primary teachers were loaded down with paperwork, a lot of it meaningless and bureaucratic, so the Ministry could throw figures around and show how well their trumped up ideas were working.
Teachers became faceless figures because they were so busy and subjects of derision because they’d been left behind in the payment stakes, their former kudos now applied to computer nerds, some of whom probably moved to Silicon Valley to join firms like Google and Facebook. That’s the new kudos, mentally damaged individuals who don’t pay taxes and holiday in the Greek Islands every year on their luxury yachts.
The teacher crisis is real, what can we do to fix it??

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