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.
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.