Teachers face a never-ending conveyor belt streaming negative news and new initiatives straight to our desks, each new thing vying for our attention and time. What are we to do?
Do we focus on the latest research on literacy or the changes to teacher appraisal? Do we read the news story about the sacked Principal or the one about the latest Novopay cock-up? Do we attend that great PD session being offered, or go to the union meeting? Do we scan over the figures for what charter schools are being paid or spend the time trying to persuade our own students’ parents to pay a donation?
We can’t keep up with it all, because on top of all that there are actual students that need our time. And they win out, always.
As an example of things bombarding NZ educators just now, we have:
- another Novopay debacle affecting thousands of support staff
- heated debate about the robustness of NCEA literacy and numeracy requirements
- public schools strapped for cash
- Ministry and NZEI still haven’t agreed on the primary teachers’ collective agreement (employment contract)
- Kindies in Wellington just had to cut staff due to funding shortfalls as government prioritise funding private ECE
- NZ School Trustees Association speaking at select committee against increased paid parental leave (!)
- The Education Act being updated (again)
- Redcliffs School fighting to move back to its site and remain open
- teacher appraisal changes
- changes to how teachers are certificated (so they can work)
- new Communities of Schools and Communities of Learners
- the slow but insistent push for schools to take up PaCT
- Peggy Burrows has been sacked from her job as Headteacher for no apparent reason.
- charter schools receiving higher funding per student than public schools
- no news yet from the select committee on people’s requests to change to the inadequate special needs/ORS systems
- Playcentres are facing tough decisions as their funding decreases
- a freeze on Speech Language Teachers in Wellington. (It may be more widespread but their code of conduct forbids them to tell me about it!)
- Changes to teachers’ code of ethics, potentially to a code of conduct that gags us from speaking out/speaking up.
There are more things but, really, I think you get the picture.
This is a teacher’s lot. We are trying to focus on planning lessons, marking, differentiating, learning about this or that disorder we think may be affecting a student in our class, attending meetings, collecting evidence that we are doing our job, up-skilling, organising trips, taking after-school clubs, and – yes – actually teaching. And on top of everything, there’s this pile of stuff pressing down.
I’ll say it again, it’s exhausting. And stressful.
I wonder whether, just for a while at least, the powers that be would consider just letting us leach?
Too much to ask?
~ Dianne Khan