Content warning: this post deals with issues of family violence that some readers may find triggering.
I am a teacher. I have been teaching at my current school for multiple years now. I have taught different ages, different cultures, different backgrounds. I have dealt with the dreaded NAPLAN, the helicopter parents, meetings that go over time by two hours. I’ve had numerous ‘Code Browns’ where students haven’t quite made it to the toilet.
It has brought me great joy to teach children and share my passions with them. I can deal with poo and reports, what I can’t deal with is kids coming from homes where family violence is as common to them as the Wiggles and fairy bread are to others.
I remember my first year on the job. I came in on my first day with rose coloured glasses, bright eyed and bushy tailed. I had illusions of grandeur, I wanted to be the “John Keating”/“Dead Poet’s Society” type teacher who inspired her students and focused on creating a rich learning environment enjoyed by all. The worse I was expecting was a missed sandwich now and again, maybe a forgotten diary.
I remember first learning about one of my students whose mum quite often went on drug benders, who would have abusive boyfriends stay over and beat her in front of my student. I was then expected to teach *Kane how to read and write. How could he possibly cope with ‘I before E’ when he knew what was waiting for him at home?
Mandatory reporting is a blessed thing. Kane got taken out of that situation and is now living with his dad. He comes to school each day with a smile on his face, ready to learn, a bright future ahead of him. Kane is a success story, but one not often repeated in others.
I started my second year, slightly less cocky but still optimistic in my profession. I was then introduced to *Ben. When Ben’s mother was pregnant with him and his other siblings, she was on every drug under the sun. Ben was born with Foetal Drug Syndrome. He was born a drug addict. It affected him from the very first day he was born. He lived with his mother and her many partners, surrounded by drugs, alcohol and misery. He was then sent to live with a different family member and attended my class.