Inquiring Minds

22 Oct 2020

The shift to online learning during the COVID pandemic opened the door of classrooms around the world in 2020. What the world saw was a glimpse of the diverse nature of the work teachers do and the incredible dedication teachers have to ensuring their students flourish. 

Earlier this month, the independent inquiry, “Valuing the Teaching Profession”, commissioned by the NSW Teachers Federation, began hearing evidence from a range of stakeholders on the nature of teachers’ work in the 21stcentury and how it has changed in the last 15 years. In this time, the profession has undergone unprecedented change. As the diversity of student needs has increased, so to has the demands placed on teachers through the introduction of changes to curriculum, increasing compliance requirements, technology and parental demands. In addition to supporting the academic development, teachers are also increasingly facilitating the physical, social and emotional development of their students. 

The fundamental role schools play in communities has never been more obvious. Recently, the NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian acknowledged this, saying that teaching was “one of the most valued occupations on the planet”. Indeed, research affirms the correlation between high quality teaching and improved learning outcomes. According to Professor John Hattie, director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute, at the forefront of academic achievement is the development of a positive student-teacher relationship, which takes time to foster. 

And yet the attrition rate among early career teachers and the burnout rate amongst our principals attests to the increasing demands placed on teachers, and indicates that more needs to be done to support our schools to continue to provide the highest quality learning experience for our students. Teachers struggle to balance increasing bureaucratic demands with planning high-quality learning experiences for their students and engaging in essential professional learning to develop their skills. 

This unique time in history provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to reflect on the nature of teaching and learning and what matters most. We look forward to hearing the findings of the panel, and trust they will hand down recommendations that will improve the status of teaching,  provide incentives that attract and retain the best and brightest to this noble profession, and suggest ways the government can support teachers to continue to provide the high quality educational experience all students deserve. 

Written by the Director of Learning and Teaching (7-12), Mrs Lisa Peterson.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald