During a lecture in the first semester of my teaching degree, my peers and I were told that 50 per cent of new teachers leave the profession in the first five years.
The lecturer said this not to scare us, but to prepare us, and to ask us to look after ourselves as we embarked on our new career.
The warning stayed with me. When I first heard it, I made a silent promise to myself not to be part of that statistic.
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Throughout my first four years of teaching, I have periodically remembered that promise. These days, I have a daily, internal fight about my place in the teaching profession. I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life, but the NSW public education system seems like it could crumble at any moment.
Today, I walked past the canteen during lunch, and one of my Year 9 students asked whether I had a lesson next period.
"No", I said. "Why?"
She asked me if I could take her class. You see, the whole year group was being placed under "minimal supervision" next period. Not for the first time this term, either. That means we can’t staff their classes with separate teachers, so instead the whole year group spends the period in the hall, or on the playground, without set work, under the supervision of a single teacher.