How are you feeling?
As a teacher of many years experience (pass me the air brush please!), I am constantly reminded of the challenges faced by teachers as they strive to provide each of their students with the optimal environment and the most effective experiences to advance their learning.
Research consistently shows that in a school setting it is teachers that have the most influence on student learning. Teachers could be described as a student’s and therefore a school’s most valuable resource. Do schools look after their most valuable resource? Most teachers would say no, considering the findings of three different research projects that are highlighted below.
Please don’t get me wrong – I am not taking the ‘glass half empty’ perspective here – I am a passionate educator and would choose teaching as a profession all over again. However, I see teachers struggling with their workload each and every day, which is what motivated me to ask them;’How are you feeling?’
A typical day at school for a classroom teacher can involve parent meetings, yard supervision duty, teacher team meetings, facilitation of interest based classes and lesson preparation. Each of these events usually occur before school, after school or during lunchtimes. Then of course teachers spend the rest of the school day managing the learning of each of their students who present with individual talents, difficulties, behaviours and their own preferred learning style. Responding to and catering for the learning needs of each student is not easy, but is so important. All day, every day teachers are juggling several balls in the air at the same time.
My conversations with teachers reveal that many feel isolated and stretched too thinly as they attempt to manage the day to day tasks involved in classroom teaching. My sense is that many teachers, particularly teachers new to the profession may not feel well supported. I investigated these issues further and discovered that many teachers across the globe are feeling the same. It seems that whilst many teachers love what they do, their ever increasing workload is taking a toll.
American educators leaving the teaching profession who participated in a National Centre Education Statistics study claimed dissatisfaction at the lack of planning time they were allocated, they felt their workload was too heavy, and that class sizes were too large. These factors contributed to their decision to leave teaching.
The Guardian Teacher Network surveyed educators teaching in the United Kingdom last year to find out how they were feeling about their chosen profession. Eighty-five percent of teachers surveyed felt that they had less respect from UK society than in some other countries. Most teachers surveyed claimed that they had experienced bullying and that education was inadequately resourced. Nearly half of the teachers surveyed indicated they would consider teaching abroad.
I recently undertook some research involving educators teaching in elementary classrooms in Australia and some areas of Asia. Most teachers involved in this project indicated that whilst they love to teach, they often felt stressed by the day to day demands of classroom teaching and not supported ‘because everyone is so busy, I don’t like to add to anyone’s workload by asking for help or advice’.
The teachers I spoke to during my research project indicated that they ‘would jump’ at the opportunity to join an online network where they could interact with like-minded educators, access the resources they needed and chat to educational experts. They felt belonging to an online community of educators would offer them support both professionally and personally, which would genuinely help. This encouraged me to create Optimise Learning, an educational organisation that is committed to supporting educators as they strive to assist the young people in their life to achieve, and maybe even surpass their potential.
Teaching young people is a privileged profession and such an important job. Whilst teaching can be most rewarding, at times it can feel overwhelming. We need to look after each other!
Let us know how Optimise Learning can support you.
Optimise Learning Australia