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!”?