Victorian teachers have decided to keep rolling out the strike action in Term 2 to fight against the increase in contract work, wages and the future introduction of ‘performance pay’.
I observed on social media as many were frustrated at having their children home or having to find care for them so they could go to work. Some people were also happy to have their children at home and supportive of the strike action taking place.
I can only speak from what I’ve experienced and the teachers I’ve met. I can tell you the answers to some of the most common questions I receive and what I say back to people who jest about the amount of holidays teachers get.
Here are some facts from what I know…
Teachers don’t get paid overtime
They don’t get paid to attend camps, long meetings, parent teacher interviews, overnight conferences or excursions that run into the evenings. They don’t get time in lieu the majority of the time either, which often leaves them having to catch up on their planning time.
They bring it home
Sometimes they bring their emotions home, sometimes they bring their frustration home and a lot of the time they bring their corrections, things to laminate and planning sheets home. This isn’t because they aren’t productive during their day. It’s because in between teaching times there is a ridiculous amount of interruptions that occur within one’s day. From resolving disputes and offering assistance in areas other than their classroom to staff meetings, catching up with parents, offering an ear to a child (or parent) and the list goes on. Teachers don’t resent this. It’s just what they do.
Teachers need their holidays
Teachers only ‘turn off’ teaching for so long during holidays. They don’t just walk in on the first day back and teach. They are usually planning during their holidays, popping into work, doing it at home or coming up with new ideas for their classroom.
Teachers often take on unpaid extras
Not all leadership positions are extra pay. Sometimes (particularly in smaller primary schools) you just become the IT person or the Physical Education person and before you know it you are also organising and updating sports equipment, arranging interschool sports and ensuring that all staff are up to speed with future events.
Teacher’s pay doesn’t get very far
As a graduate, the pay seems great. But as the years roll on and so does marriage, mortgage, families or all of the above and the pay doesn’t adjust to that. The amount of experience you gain as you grow as a teacher doesn’t match in growth of pay.
Too many teachers are in ‘contract’ positions
Schools are limited to the amount of ongoing positions they are able to provide. Thus, many teachers are in contract positions, meaning their job is not guaranteed year after year. This can be particularly difficult for women going on maternity leave as they can be left without a job to return to.
Teachers love what they do
I haven’t met many that don’t. We all have a different reason as to why we love it.
For me, it’s when I see a child having a ‘click’ moment. That’s when all of a sudden, they get whatever it is you’ve been teaching them.
I love it when they get excited about their success and when they are enthusiastic about learning.
I love that I can instil a love of reading and encourage them to run away into their fantasies when they write.
I love that they are all unique and that even the most challenging child can succeed in their own way – academic or not.
Teachers don’t want to be a hassle for parents by striking. They just want what they deserve so they can be the best they can be for their students.
Image Source: The Age