What is the reality for NSW teachers?
Primary and secondary school teachers agreed to walk off the job for the second time this year, following a unanimous decision by the NSW Teachers Federation. Approximately 10,000 teachers have left the profession since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Professor Penny Van Bergen is the Head of School of Education at the University of Wollongong (UOW). She says there are two main misconceptions about the teaching profession.
“First, there's a misconception that teaching is a 9am to 3pm job. Teachers work before and after school to plan and design new lessons, review student work and provide feedback, connect with families, support school governance, and undergo continued professional learning. It is a highly professional occupation” she explains.
“There is a more recent misconception that teachers have had an easy run during COVID. Teachers have gone to extraordinary lengths to pivot their learning activities, redevelop materials, and connect with students, parents and carers, and the community during lockdown. COVID hasn't yet finished, but they are also now facing a strong teacher shortage. They have really gone above and beyond, in a very skillful way.”
Dr Ken Cliff is a lecturer and Head of Teaching and Learning in the UOW School of Education. He believes that universities can help be part of the solution, by preparing the next generation of primary and secondary teachers.
“Principals, teachers, unions and governments all agree that teachers have been stretched thin during COVID. We’re all working together to support our wonderful new graduate teachers into the classroom as soon as possible. We’re also working together to upskill current teachers in innovative classroom approaches. Together we can ensure strong outcomes for students while also supporting the great teachers we have in NSW,” he says.
Professor Van Bergen and Dr Cliff agree that teaching is a rewarding and viable career option, and encourage those thinking about a future in education.
“Teaching quite literally has the power to change lives. We can all remember a teacher who has empowered us, supported us, given us new skills or confidence, or helped us find new passions we didn't know we had,” says Professor Van Bergen.
“In return, teaching can be extraordinarily rewarding. At UOW we pride ourselves on developing competent, passionate, skillful teachers, educational leaders, and researchers who are capable of drawing on scholarly evidence and practice to support the learning of every single student.”