A Facebook friend shared a fabulous ad which appeared a few weeks ago in The Age – My Career section:
It’s a classic – no?
Apart from making me chuckle, this ad made me pause to consider the role of teachers: what it is we aim to achieve in our role and why we decide to go into teaching in the first place.
While passion and a love of kids are essential ingredients to being a successful educator, the role of a teacher is complex and demanding. Most often, the full complexity of the job is not understood until working in the field. Learning, mastering and perfecting a myriad of skills and techniques becomes a lifelong pursuit for all who work in the education sector.
Following the results of a recent OECD survey of 106,000 teachers from 34 countries in which 2059 Australian lower secondary school teachers and 116 principals participated, it was somewhat dismaying to learn that only 39% of Australian teachers included in this survey believed that society valued the teaching profession.
In a press release of The Teaching and Learning International Survey which was conducted last year, it was stated that “Most teachers enjoy their job, despite feeling unsupported and unrecognised in schools and undervalued by society at large…”
The OECD’s Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) finds that more than nine out of ten teachers are satisfied with their jobs and nearly eight in ten would choose the teaching profession again. But fewer than one in three teachers believe teaching is a valued profession in society. Importantly, those countries where teachers feel valued tend to perform better in PISA.”
It’s encouraging to read that “teachers who engage in collaborative learning have higher job satisfaction and confidence in their abilities” a fact that lends support to my belief about the incredible benefit to teachers of Personal Learning Networks (PLNs).
Teacher feedback on the value of formal appraisal programs however, may well come as a surprise to the many schools who are implementing stringent programs. While around 80% of teachers get feedback following classroom observation and 64% from student feedback, it seems appraisals are not necessarily translating into valued recognition of teachers’ skills.
But formal appraisals have little impact on career advancement or financial recognition, according to most teachers. Annual pay rises are awarded regardless of performance in four-fifths (78%) of schools and 44% of teachers work in schools where formal appraisals have no impact on career advancement.
Around half of teachers also report feeling that most appraisals are carried out merely as administrative exercises and 43% say they are not strongly related to how they teach in the classroom.”
It is interesting that this comment was echoed in a feature article published in the Education Age a few weeks prior to the OECD press release. The article “A tick of respect keeps good teachers teaching” written by Emily Frawley, a Melbourne based secondary English teacher, reflects on the significant amount of time given over to teacher appraisal:
A lot of my time at the moment is being taken up with filling in performance development plans, documenting course outlines, having students fill out surveys on me, going over the data from my VCE student’s exam marks, having other staff observe and provide feedback on my practice, visiting and critiquing my colleagues, and attending meetings to discuss how to standardise the way I teach, assess and provide feedback to my students.”
Underlining this requirement to be accountable, Frawley states that it is the lack of respect shown to teachers as a profession which undermines the societal value of the teaching profession. Her article is hard hitting and impassioned – well worth a read.
My awareness of the OECD report came from a recent article in The Age by Michael Preiss “Australian teachers feel undervalued: OECD report” (June 25, 2014). Rather than highlight the valuable role of teachers in society, this article instead focuses heavily on the amount of time teachers spend disciplining students who interrupt.