It is common knowledge within the education sector that a high number of new teachers don’t stay in teaching after three to six years.
What’s less common though, and what is happening more and more, is that teachers with decades of experience are leaving too.
I’ve watched it happen all around me this year in my school, and the same scenario is playing out in schools everywhere.
I suspect the demands of teaching during this pandemic have accelerated what was already happening in schools, which is an ever-increasing workload, constant shifting of the goal posts, and societal pressures and changes in expectations of students, parents and the community about what school is for.
I’m in my 16th year as a public school educator in New South Wales. I’m experienced, passionate, not looking to be promoted (I just want to be a classroom teacher), valued by colleagues, and respected by students and their parents.
Watch: The things teachers never say. Post continues below.
I often hear from parents at interviews, "We were so happy when we found out you were their teacher this year". After any absences, my students tell me how happy they are that I’m "finally back".
One of my sporty, not-super articulate (but smarter than he likes to admit in front of his mates) students said during a lesson earlier this year: "Your whole face and body changes when you’re teaching us this stuff [this 'stuff' being Ancient History]. You look so happy."
And I am happy.
Any teacher reading this knows what a rush it is to have a class full of students learning for the first time something that you know is important. Watching students develop the same interest and start critically engaging with complex ideas in their own unique and wonderful ways.
These moments are what teachers live for. It’s worth putting up with being spat at, sworn at, heckled, having parents yell at you, and spending hours writing reports for kids who have made your life a misery all year, that you know their parents won’t read.