Time Changes Everything… Or Does It?

Classroom in Iowa, USA, 1919. https://www.flickr.com/photos/uiowa/8407650795/
Classroom: 1919. https://www.flickr.com/photos/uiowa/8407650795/

“How has teaching as a job changed for you since you began?”…

A colleague asked me this impromptly the other week and initially I was a little stumped. A difficult question to answer off the top of your head. For me anyway! My reply…  Well, that i’ll leave until the end!

Overall, this question has had me thinking on and off since it was asked regarding  all aspects of what I have been involved in since I began my illustrious teaching career in 2003.

My initial teaching appointment was at a small rural school in Victoria located between Geelong and Melbourne. The school was small, consisting of 90 students, 5 teaching staff, a business manager and a Principal. All students at the time were from large acreage and farming properties and loved nothing more than being outside and active. My current setting, and which was/is my second teaching appointment, is now just 10 minutes away from that first school, consists of 1800 students, 210 staff, and students who are extremely varied in their interests and backgrounds.

What resonates with me is a Keynote Presentation I heard from Greg Whitby (Executive Director of Schools in the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta, NSW, @gregwhitby) at the 2012 VITTA Conference. One thing Greg said that day  has stuck with me, and I suppose it has become a bit of a driving force for what i do;

“We can reflect over the past 150 of education here in Australia, and even up until now teaching itself has not changed greatly in that time, but lets NOT base where we want to head to, on where we have come from!” 

I will say that’s not a ‘quote unquote’ from Greg, however it was the best I could do and interpret from him speaking and me frantically mashing my iPad keyboard! I’m confident it’s pretty close.

I would say that I now have more patience with my students, something that being a father has taught me greatly. The time to sit, respond, talk, TEACH, discuss, etc… now has a great meaning and purpose, not that I want to take anything away from teaching early on. My craft has developed and changed as have the kids I teach for all varied reasons.

The one undeniable driving difference however between now and then, is undoubtedly all other areas of the profession other than the teaching itself. The administration, the protocols, the diplomacy, or lack there of, the planning, assessment, and so on all for me personally take away from what I want to do and that is teach and teach well. I believe I do teach well and am a good teacher, however, teaching as a profession now just seems… busy. There is never any down time.

I can and will never forget teaching in my first setting. The fact that I predominantly spent every recess and lunch for the best part of 3 years kicking the football and or playing cricket, basketball, downball, or chasey made teaching a fun and great profession to be in! There is NO better way to get know your students than through interacting with them in THIER time.

RANT WARNING: The whole notion of teaching, pedagogy and the education system in general, and here come MY thoughts only, need to be radically rethought. The profession is breeding administrators, not teachers. People who are managers, not teachers. People who place teaching behind other areas of working in a school and that to me does not sit well. RANT DONE.

I believe that I have the capacity and knowledge to lead in a school, and I do, however I am very concerned that one day becoming an Assistant Principal or Principal, if that’s a path I choose to take, will remove me from making the difference I am in the profession to make.

So has it changed…  Well, baring my experience, no. Not really. In saying that, come to think about it, I am both a little concerned and a little surprised by that. The craft of what I do in the classroom? Perhaps. A little. My practice is more… refined. As I have said though it is the other, the external happenings that have changed. And not for the best I may add.

Anyway… Enough from me! One big waffle on!

Watching this will put things in perspective… I think…  😉 Enjoy! 


One Comment

  1. This is such a difficult topic to reflect upon. I too spent hours with the students kicking the football and if it wasn’t for my Koori kids then I’d still be kicking it wrong. However, I think that a ‘grad’ starting now is different to a ‘grad’ starting 2003. Personally, I remember starting out and doing everything myself. There was no sharing. Every class did their think and this was not necessarily about individualising the learning practise, it was simply about looking after number one. You could find ‘stuff’ online, but it was patchy. Now, when you search online you not only find ‘content’, but you find people. I would like to think that this is different and that this has markedly changed my teaching. Although people might help each other, there was not the same sense of sharing ideas and resources in my view.

    What does not really change is style or personality. I feel that I was a effervescent passionate teacher then and still am now. However, I would hope that teachers change based on their situation and scenario. I think that is what I was trying to get at with my idea of a ‘Pedagogy Cocktail’ (http://readingwritingresponding.blogspot.com.au/2014/03/so-which-pedagogical-cocktails-are.html).

    What concerns me is that you still hear about teachers ‘going solo’, looking after number one and that number one is not the students. Although quality teaching might not change. A point that Bill Ferriter made in response to my post ‘What DIgital Revolution?’ http://readingwritingresponding.blogspot.com.au/2014/04/what-digital-revolution.html I would hope that more people are made aware of what this quality looks like maybe.

    I know what you are saying about things getting busy. However, I would hope that it is also a good busy. A busy focusing on supporting all and improving the learning of all, including teachers.

    Anyway, like you in your blog, I think that I have let go of my threads. I think that this is going to be one of those posts that lingers with me for some time.

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