A teacher writes:
I love teaching, I love the spark in the eyes of the learners, I love to challenge myself and the kids to achieve the best they can.
I try supporting my colleagues as best as I can, I try hard to be the Teacher I wanted my kids to have. I am not perfect, but I extend myself, I learn, I try to take on board new ideas and new ways forward. I try hard to have an open mind.
I work in a supportive environment, with kind and wonderful people. I am not unhappy in my job.
I am saying that before I write the following because I want to make it clear I am not negative about education. I think there are amazing people out there, I think there is some, new and amazing stuff going on and I want to be a part of it, but…
This week I was at a union meeting again, and again I left angry and disappointed.
Not for myself, but for our students.
The real issues, are being swept under the mat.
The agreement we were presented with was toothless, there were some small steps, actually tiny steps.
The Rep was keen to point out the gains-the small victories, I feel the negotiating team no doubt had a hard job getting any sort of agreement in the current climate. The issue though is increasingly that we are presented with information and told to accept it, that there is no alternative.
Being told that we would be ‘hauled back’ (words of the rep) to more meetings if we didn’t agree to the settlement – sounded like a threat. As did ‘we will lose the back pay if it is not passed immediately’.
To be honest, if their was an alternative-such as fighting for the rights of students, I would gladly give up the pay.
Being told the one day in 2017, was a bargaining chip for further improvements in terms of release time, will be no good to the increasing number of teachers suffering from physical symptoms of stress now. There is not another day in 2018. This is a stepping stone we were told to help further negotiation in the next round. I have a feeling, many of my colleagues in the room may have left the profession by then.
Where is the union’s responsibility to protect its members from undue stress and workload?
So when do we fight the real issues, the reduction of the Teachers in Early Childhood, measuring kids in core subjects before they have truly settled into school, setting unrealistic targets, manipulating funding to make it look like an increase, when in real terms it is a reduction.
Increasing the paper workload due to the nature of the changes and expectations, but not giving teachers time to do this.
Teachers who are so exhausted and stressed they are breaking down. How many high quality teachers will we lose as they burn out? How many have lost the passion they had?
I would gladly forgo pay increases to secure release time benefits for our Teachers and Senior Staff to protect their health.
I would again give back pay increases, to see clear provision of professional development that schools can afford in areas that they need, or that enhance expertise in areas beyond the ‘core’.
I would give back the small ‘gains’ we secured to see my colleagues able to cope again.
Sorry for the rant.
We need the Union to stand up for us and our students and be prepared to help us get the parents on side. It looks as if our union has lost its teeth.
Unions are so important; they need to represent and present, galvanise support and be prepared to go the distance.
The whole point of paid union meetings being in school time was to acknowledge that Teachers needed time to discuss issues in an open forum.
We now have these in our non contact time as a norm. We do not want to disrupt our pupils and their families, but our time is very precious too and it is time we use to support the learning of the students.
A meeting should be about discussion and a level presentation of the alternative to accepting the agreement, and a chance to validate how we are feeling.
I resent being stood over as I consider my vote and being asked for it before I was ready; there was an assumption that there was nothing to consider.
Teachers are too tired to fight, they can barely meet the demands of their jobs. In 10 years of teaching in New Zealand and after 27 years in the profession I love, I am seeing more newly qualified Teachers become disillusioned after a few years, and excellent high quality teachers considering their future in the profession.
Teacher Burnout is a huge issue. The union needs to study it, help us present evidence, and to assist the fight to stop it.
Sorry for the rant. Frustrated.”
What are your thoughts?
Notes: Original post shared with the author’s permission; Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net