career

Teaching has never been more challenging. 6 teachers share exactly why they keep coming back.

Commonwealth Bank
Thanks to our brand partner, Commonwealth Bank

There are not a lot of things in life I’m certain of.

But the one thing I know to be true, above anything else, is that teachers are some of the most hardworking professionals in our community. 

And I can say that with very little doubt because for five years, I was one. 

I worked alongside some of the most generous, hardworking and compassionate people I’ve ever met. 

However, two things can be true at the same time. I also know that teachers aren’t recognised enough for the generosity, hard work and compassion they continuously display, every single day. 

But thankfully, there is a particular group of people that see the amazing work teachers do in our schools and are actively recognising it. 

Each year, the Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards – in partnership with national no-for-profit Schools Plus – reward 12 outstanding teachers with a $45,000 teaching fellowship that goes towards their school and professional growth. 

This year, they’ve also added a new category for teachers who are in their first five years of the profession. The ten winners of the new Early Career Teachers category will receive $10,000 towards their own development.

"The Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards recognise outstanding educators who go above and beyond to nurture young minds for a bright future. Teachers and educators play such a vital role in preparing the next generation to meet the demands of an evolving workforce, economy and society,” Luke Schepen, the Head of Community Investment Commonwealth Bank, told Mamamia

Inspired by the Awards, and every educator I’ve ever had, known and worked with, I decided to ask teachers in the community what they love most about their profession, and despite the challenges, why they keep coming back to the classroom every single day.

Trent, teacher of 20 years

Principal of Kingston State School, QLD and winner of 2022 Winner of the Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards

“When I was in high school, specifically Year 11, I had many amazing teachers, however, one day, I found myself sitting in a particular class that just felt rubbish. I remember thinking to myself that we deserved better. I made the decision then and there to become a teacher and be the best possible teacher I could, every day.

“I feel fulfilled when seeing students engaged in the learning and they are able to describe to me what they are learning and why they are learning it. As a principal, this affirms to me that our teachers are engaging our students in learning and what they are teaching is working. 

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“This, and the simple hellos I get when I walk around the school at lunchtimes, and before and after school, is what I love most about the profession. I love seeing the happy, smiling, optimistic faces of our amazing students.”

Trent. Image: Supplied.

Phoebe, teacher of 4 years

“I can confidently say that I love my job. Of course there are moments when I question myself, yet, despite the challenges, there is always one moment in the day that makes me smile and reignites the passion inside. It is the simple interactions with the students in the classroom that makes every day worthwhile. 

“The best part about my job is the unpredictability of it. No day is the same and you are dealing with inquisitive, funny and energetic kids. Their way of seeing the world can be all at the same time endearing, life-affirming, unique and inspiring. 

“Being a teacher isn’t just a job, it is a vocation, and it is part of my identity. I am a teacher and I am proud of it.”  

Michelle, teacher of 7 years

“I became a teacher because I really believe in the power of education in helping people to reach their most authentic self. That old adage, ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’, is something that was really drummed into me growing up and so I thought the best way to share that with the world was through teaching. 

“It’s the small moments that happen on a week-to-week basis, sometimes they’re not obvious, but they always happen – seeing a student who never speaks up help a classmate with their work, students rallying behind a classmate who has lost a family member and supporting them through a tough time, and those everyday lightbulb moments when a student finally understands what you’ve been going on about for an entire term. That’s what really makes me love my job.”

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Koren, teacher of 6 years

“What teaching is to me can be summed up in one quote. 'Find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life.’

“It's a tough and tiring gig, certainly not for everybody, but the kids make it worth it. Their jokes, their quirky antics and the unexpected banter is what I love the most. I'm fortunate to be working with amazing, supportive colleagues and hilarious teenagers who feel they can come to me when they want help or need a laugh. 

“I fell into teaching when I took a school holiday drama class for a friend and I remember standing at the train station after the first lesson thinking 'I could do this for the rest of my life and be so happy.'”

Koren. Image: Supplied.

Bronwyn, teacher of 38 years

“Considering my first teaching position was in 1977, I am hardly a novice. However, I have not taught continuously during this time with some time spent raising a family, working in a private business, and teaching in the adult sector, all before returning to the high school realm after missing the classroom. I suppose I am a ‘boomerang’ teacher returning to the sector where I started. 

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“Returning to the classroom, I thought I may stay for a year or two – and that time has now become 22 years at the same school. 

“The complexity of working with teenagers has never ceased to amaze me. To watch students embark on their high school journey as they make the leap from primary school and then to see them emerge into the adult world is primarily what makes me return year after year.

“There are plenty of challenges – especially around admin and parents who can become defensive when receiving feedback about their child — however, the reason I find it hard to even contemplate hanging up my pencil case still lays fundamentally in the dynamics of teenagers. The joy that a “thank you” can bring and to know you may have made a difference – even a small one – continues to draw me back, day after day.”

Joyce, teacher of 7 years

“My first two years of teaching English and HSIE were overwhelming and exhausting, to say the least. I did have many moments during these two years where I had questioned if I was really ready to do this career, however, I had a turning point due to an unexpected opportunity to teach a few classes as a Diverse Learning Teacher.

“It was this opportunity that had completely reinstated my love and passion for teaching. Working with students who had special and diverse needs had given me a new perspective on teaching and ignited a fire that I didn't know existed. 

“There are still many challenges and I still have moments where I question if I am able to recover from the constant administration work, struggles and challenges of remote learning, and lack of time to plan quality lessons for my students.

“Although I do have these thoughts, it’s the moments where I have my students with diverse needs can lighten up my day with a smile after they finally understand how to spell a word they have been struggling with for months, or when a student says they have a newfound love for a subject I teach because my approach has meshed naturally with their way of learning.”

Each year, Australian Schools Plus in partnership with Commonwealth Bank recognise excellent teachers and school leaders who are making a transformative and measurable impact on their students and school communities. 

Visit here to meet this year’s inspirational Commonwealth Bank Teaching Award winners.

Feature Image: Canva.

Commonwealth Bank
For more information on the Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards visit www.teachingawards.com.au