How far can you stretch a piece of elastic before it snaps?

We may be of different strengths and thicknesses - but there is a point at which each of us will finally snap!
We may be of different strengths and thicknesses – but there is a point at which each of us will finally snap!

Each year since I have been back teaching I have been stretched. I enjoy being stretched. Challenges help me to grow as a teacher and to keep motivated. I choose to attend Pilates and Yoga classes, after which I feel great – stretched and stronger. But, I have to be careful that I am in a position where the right muscles are engaged and my joints are in the correct positions or I will harm myself. I rely on my instructor to protect me.

At the moment I am very concerned that my colleagues at all levels are being stretched to their limits and perhaps too far with the extra demands that are being put on them. I feel that too much is being asked of them with regards to taking the time to provide data. Time is being taken to fill out data on students with disabilities that range from severe to very minor. Time is being wasted on trying to work with computer systems that won’t talk to each other. Data has to be entered every 5 weeks on every student across the literacy and numeracy continuum to monitor the support that we are receiving. Personalised learning plans have to be written for a substantial number of students in our classes, not in teacher’s own time but with a team. That is just the start – don’t get me going about planning and recording my own career trajectory and the fact that I don’t fit the mold!

Conscientious teachers are becoming anxious that too much time is spent off class fulfilling the desires of bureaucracy rather than attending to their core business – that of promoting learning for their students. Add to this, twice yearly reports that are thousands of words in total for each child for parents who have trouble reading English, running extra-curricular activities for students in their lunch hours, dealing with behaviour issues and reporting on these as they happen, as well as fielding phone calls from parents who have no concept that their children are no more special than every other student in the class.

We always seem to rise to the occasion. We somehow manage to ‘get there’. But at what cost? With all the balls that teachers are expected to juggle inside and outside of school hours, is it any wonder; they feel they are not doing their best for their students, that their own families feel neglected, their health breaks down, they learn to live on less than eight hours sleep a night because they go to bed late and wake up at three in the morning with ideas and thoughts that won’t go away?

The question is, where and when will it end? At what point will someone say “Stop! Enough!”?

6 thoughts on “How far can you stretch a piece of elastic before it snaps?

  1. Dear Anne, I am so glad that your blog showed up in my WordPress Reader tonight, and I that I found this piece. It breaks my heart that teachers have to go through what you describe, but it gives me courage to meet teachers who speak up like you. Thank you for writing this.

    I also wonder when it will stop. It is a mystery to me and the only way I have been able to make sense of it is to take care of myself, just like you and Fiona describe here. I don’t want to take anything away from your request for outside change, but I’d like to invite you to write for my new blog where teachers write about how they find peace among the stresses of their work.
    https://redthumbforlove.wordpress.com/category/teachers-talking-about-self-compassion/

    If this interests you, please let me know.

    In gratitude,
    Josette

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Josette, it would be an honour. I will think carefully about this and send you my draft when I have pondered.
      Unfortunately the demands on our staff, because our students perform poorly on the standardised tests that compare all students in Australia, are huge. We are submitting enormous amounts of data regularly and are being called to explain when students’ levels are not improving.
      Shan’t say more 🙂 Effects of this on students summed up nicely by Dr Linda Graham @drlindagraham in her latest blog aware.edunerds.au/blog/?p=1121
      All the best, Anne

      Like

      1. It sounds incredibly tiring and frustrating! Is there any hope that things will change? Are there advocacy groups working on this?

        And thank you for the blog suggestion. Although sad, this topic fascinates me.

        I am happy to hear you are interested in submitting a piece! But I of course don’t want to load you up with more work. 🙂 When you are ready, fee;l free to send me an email at josette.leblanc@gmail.com.

        All the best!

        Like

  2. Anne….
    Perfection.
    If only teaching involved just teaching. It’s that time of the year/term when all of these reports/assessments are coming to a head.
    I spent 45 on the phone the other day to a mother who was certain her son was not receiving the adequate amount of attention, extension, praise, encouragement…you name it, I wasn’t providing it. I felt exactly like that rubber band you are talking about!

    Like you, I participate in yoga. I hope it brings you the same benefits that it does to me. Good luck!

    Fiona

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Fiona.
      Loved your last post. Have been thinking hard about SMART goals since.
      I prioritise going to yoga, Pilates and Body Balance classes no matter how busy I am. They help to relieve tension and they seem to help me to sleep better as well. All the best with those reports!
      Anne

      Like

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