When Jane Caro visited Canley Vale High School in Sydney’s south-western suburbs to film ABC TV’s The Staffroom, one question in particular struck a nerve with the teachers there, ABC News.
That question was about the common myths about teaching. Here’s what she learned:
‘Teachers only work from nine to three’
The groan that went around the jam-packed room Canley Vale staffroom in response came from the gut.
Teachers are involved in face-to-face teaching for five hours a day plus supervision at recess, lunchtime and roll call.
That can mean anything from four to eight classes a day, depending on the length of the period.
But that is only one part of the work they do.
Teachers must prepare every lesson they teach — up to eight a day, remember?
Another myth is that the curriculum provides the lessons. It doesn’t, it simply prescribes what outcomes students must meet within two years. It’s up to teachers how they get there.
They must mark every task they set. Given that most classes contain 30 kids, that is 140-240 pieces of work. They must write reports and keep parents informed, and plan excursions, student performances and presentations.
They must prepare for and attend staff and faculty meetings.
They must research and keep up to date with their subject, not to mention account for everything they do in the classroom to keep the Department of Education satisfied.
Plus, because they care about their students, they often lie awake at night wondering how they can help any that seem to be struggling.
One teacher who features in The Staffoom has gone part-time because she could no longer work until 1:30am while rising at 6:00am.
‘Everybody is a teacher’
Unless putting a band-aid on your kid’s finger makes you a doctor, this is nonsense.
Professional teachers must inspire, guide and educate hundreds of children every week, all of whom have different home lives, values, abilities and interests.
This is what separates the professionals from the amateurs.