‘teacher hid loss during exodus’

By clicking on this link below, you can visit the Sydney Morning Herald website and read an article written by Kim Arlington on October 19 2013.

But before you do, I want you to decide in your mind what this article might be publicising.

Okay, you can read it now….

Teacher hid loss during exodus

(NOTE: Congratulations to the teachers in the article, but the rest of this blog post has nothing to do with fire affected schools, the headline was a platform for my thought processes).

RETURN TO THE POINT……

When I first read the headline, I assumed that it had negative connotations. An English teacher would say that these negative connotations stem from the use of the words ‘hid’ and ‘loss’ because they imply deceit and neglect respectively. But I think that the  reason for my assumption is the amount of recent media articles that condemn the teaching profession as incompetent and ‘lazy’.

There have even been  pushes to increase the ‘quality’ of teachers by  accepting only university applicants who surpass certain bands across a range of subjects in their matriculation exams. This quality assurance is necessary, of course, but from my personal experience I feel that this underemphasises the role of the university in producing a competent teacher. Much of the knowledge I apply daily was learned either at university or from other teachers on the job, not during my HSC. I also regularly learn from my own failings. However, as a new teacher, there are things I am still learning on the job that should have been a part of my university degree.

Some examples:

Educational Psychology is all about theories surrounding how the brain grows and develops, its capabilities (in general) at different age groups and all of the problems that can occur with brain development. We also learned a little bit about how learning occurs. Very very helpful, but the course had a fatal flaw: lying. Teachers need to be human lie detectors, and I am terrible in this area. I always believe the kid who cries or looks sorry. (I hope my students never find this blog). Kids who become angry when unjustly accused draw the short stick if they’re up against me and a kid who’s crying!

I also have no idea how to comfort or give advice to a group of girls ‘sexting’ ‘cyberbullying’ or experimenting with sex and drugs at school. When it comes to boys, I don’t know how to assert myself as the ‘alpha’. Do I blow in their nostrils? Urinate on something in front of them? Stalk around growling and puffing out my chest? Do I hold my ground? Raise or lower my voice? Explain my reasoning or stop at “I’m the teacher, that’s why!”

Teaching degrees should also incorporate a class called Social Interactions where you learn to pull rank on a parent, assert yourself in the staffroom, and communicate with teachers from other faculties, other decades and other cultures. Our behaviour management courses were heavily focussed on understanding why a student would be performing a particular behaviour, rather than on how to stop that behaviour from occurring. There is also one hard truth to learn that is carefully protected from you at university: some people are arseholes and kids are people. That means that some kids are just arseholes and they will not suffer you to manage their behaviour. Think about it, if a kid doesn’t care about learning, pleasing adults, getting a job or having friends, then you’re left holding no cards. You can also put money on getting a a stream of abuse from the parents of this creature should you be bold enough to call home.

In conclusion, the media does not have the right to label our profession as lazy, and the incompetent teachers who are infiltrating the system are a product of their university education. They are also a minority that is equivalent to the incompetent members of any profession or workforce. Lastly, I have learned  that without the support of parents and community, teachers have limited power to influence the final achievements of most students.

Support the kids in your community and thank a teacher. Yesterday, 25 October, was International Teachers’ Day! Trust me, we earn it!

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