Tuesday , November 24 2020

The culture runs teachers like me from the profession

It is the most wonderful time of the year. Well, sort of. For some people. People with an unnatural (some can say unhealthy) love for stickers, children's books and pastel light holders. For teachers, the new school year awaits as a tightly packed Christmas gift – full of potential, full of surprises. The promise of a year of new learning, new professional growth and new opportunities for door deco in the classroom is the joy of a career in education.

School teacher Erin Canavan.

School teacher Erin Canavan.

But all the hype over the start of a new school year passes me. At some point in my career, when I need to feel more comfortable, and when my passion for the profession is to increase, I feel anxious and devoured by self-confidence. Not for the first time, I wish I had the confidence, unremitting passion and confidence to go into my job and really enjoy it.

The problem is, I don't know how to find them. Statistics show that 40-50 percent of Australian teachers leave the profession within the first five years of their employment. I can't be part of that cohort (yet), but I admit that in my two years in the profession I've considered leaving it behind. Because while passion or personal experience or an unfulfilled dream can lead individuals to the education industry, a fundamental and harmful cultural shift drives us away.

The scale of Australian education is becoming ever narrower. Many of the teachers
Professional decisions are driven by expectations of student performance in high-stakes, national tests, and the need to meet school-wide and national performance benchmarks. In the constant pursuit of academic results and evidence of quantifiable student achievement, opportunities for making autonomous decisions about our teaching are rare. While I see that my students achieve and experience success is a good feeling, student growth and professional autonomy are almost excluded.

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