As the mum of a kindy kid, I spent a lot of time in parent forums and groups during the first term of this year. I gained some valuable insight into school life and how best to support my child in his first year of school. But there was one thing that bothered me – so many parents were quick to criticise teachers and complain about the job they were doing and often this criticism seemed unfair.
It often seems teachers can’t win – we expect them to play key roles in the development of our children, but only when it suits us. We send our smalls off 5 days a week, their teacher in charge of their learning, their behaviour and supporting the development of their values. We hope that the teacher has an approach we like and when it is, we often say nothing, but the minute we disagree we are quick to criticise, to get on social media demanding support as we complain about the chocolate cake that got sent home as inappropriate lunch food or that our child was reprimanded again for talking in class or that our child wasn’t given an award that we feel they deserved. We are quick to dismiss the skills of the teacher, ignore their experience and often fail to look at the bigger picture.
The bigger picture is that your child’s teacher is invested in his or her learning. Teachers want our smalls to succeed, they want to support their development academically, emotionally and socially. They know that the skills we get from school are not just about reading and numbers. We develop knowledge; confidence; an understanding of others; negotiation skills and an appreciation of team work plus more. The lessons we learn contribute to our sense of self and our view of the world. Our time at school supports our development of empathy and understanding and gives us the room we need to explore approaches to the challenges life throws at us. We won’t always get it right but that’s ok, our teachers are there to support and guide us. The impact of a teacher is often underestimated.
I think of my teachers and the support I received during my school years. Some resonate more than others – from Katoomba Primary School, Mr Colin Semmler (librarian); from Orara High School, Mr Keith Jervis (librarian), Ms Christine Robinson (AEO) and Ms Noelene Usher (my roll call and humanities teacher). Each of these people and their influence has stuck with me for life. I probably didn’t say thank you enough. If any of you are reading this, thank you.
It is likely that most teachers don’t get the appreciation they deserve. We don’t consider the hours they spend outside of school hours planning, marking, or considering out of the box approaches to support their students. Wouldn’t it be great if we started recognising this effort?
The importance of Aboriginal education is often overlooked by teachers, parents and students. But there are many teachers who are working every day to make Aboriginal perspectives an everyday part of school life, advocating for a better future for all our kids through a reconciled Australia; for culturally inclusive schools; more comprehensive education; and recognition of Australia’s real history.
Wingaru Education is honoured to get to work with many of these teachers and we think these teachers deserve more recognition so we are introducing Teacher of the Month!
Each month the Wingaru team will choose a teacher based on their contribution to Aboriginal Education. We will consider how they are using the Platform; their interactions with the Wingaru team including our social media accounts; and feedback from their school community. The selected teacher will receive a special gift just for them as well as having their good work recognised publicly.
Our first Teacher of the Month will be revealed on the blog next week.
We all have a list of teachers we remember fondly for the influence they have had. Your child’s current teacher could be one of their life long influencers – have you thanked them lately?
Wingaru Education believes that all children should have access to quality education about Aboriginal people and culture.