News

Teachers need more than our recognition; they need support

EDITORIAL: When Canterbury was rocked by an earthquake in 2011, teachers evacuated classes, then calmed and reassured students until they had somewhere safe to go.

In the aftermath, they relocated to damaged or temporarily repaired classrooms, tents, community centres or church halls.

While some teachers had also lost their homes, they showed up for their students.

Teachers are feeling burnt out after two years of Covid-19

Quentin Jones

Teachers are feeling burnt out after two years of Covid-19

“We put on that teacher smile, took a deep breath, and carried on,” a Christchurch teacher said at the time.

It may sound trite, but in times of crisis, teachers too easily slip into the role of the quiet hero.

READ MORE:
* Government unsure how many guidance counsellors $75.8m fund has hired
* Teachers back Covid-19 vaccine mandate: ‘It’s our role to model safe behaviour’
* Violence, long hours, and stress: The state of New Zealand’s teaching workforce

As schools break up, and families enjoy the first week with children at home, we mustn’t forget the part teachers have played during the past two years.

Lockdowns and homeschooling have had a significant impact on students – especially those in Auckland. They’ve dealt with complex family situations, while trying to participate in online learning. Some students have disengaged from school and are yet to return.

Schools are the heart of our communities. And in uncertain times they act as a place of connection, support and continuity.

neon brand/unsplash

Schools are the heart of our communities. And in uncertain times they act as a place of connection, support and continuity.

Parents and caregivers have had to juggle homeschooling, working from home, financial pressures and the threat of the virus.

Among all this, teachers have kept on working. They’ve adapted to new systems and created different learning models. They’ve kept students settled during an unsettling time – taking on additional pastoral care.

Schools are the heart of our communities. And in uncertain times they act as a place of connection, support and continuity.

An ERO report has found young teachers are faring worse than their older colleagues, and are also the most likely to leave for overseas jobs when the borders reopen.

Martin Hunter/Stuff

An ERO report has found young teachers are faring worse than their older colleagues, and are also the most likely to leave for overseas jobs when the borders reopen.

But that comes at a cost.

A new Education Review Office (ERO) report found teachers and principals are increasingly struggling with their workload due to Covid-19 disruptions.

Only a third of teachers and a fifth of principals feel their workload is manageable. Meanwhile, young teachers are struggling the most – 27 per cent of teachers under 35 say their workload is unmanageable, compared to 16 per cent of teachers over 46.

Things are worse in Auckland, with principals more likely to report staff wellbeing has not returned to pre-Covid levels. During the current outbreak, Auckland teachers have felt high levels of stress and exhaustion, especially those with their own young families or those living alone.

During the same period, student behaviour has worsened.

As is the case in many sectors, Covid-19 has exacerbated existing problems.

In 2019, after a year of negotiations, primary school teachers signed a new collective agreement, which guaranteed them pay parity with secondary school teachers. But the issues of workload, wellbeing and teacher supply were never resolved.

A tripartite accord was created between the primary and secondary teacher unions and the Ministry of Education, in an effort to tackle these long-running issues ahead of the next round of contract talks.

When teachers head back to the negotiating table next year, it’s hard to imagine a situation where workload and wellbeing don’t become sticking points.

Teacher workload and wellbeing issues were a sticking point during the last round of collective negotiations, and are likely to be again next year.

ANDY JACKSON/STUFF/Stuff

Teacher workload and wellbeing issues were a sticking point during the last round of collective negotiations, and are likely to be again next year.

At the same time, the ministry’s teacher supply forecasts for next year highlight the uncertainty surrounding the profession.

Retention rates have been high through Covid-19 – a secure paycheck and closed borders played a big part. But as the effects of vaccine mandates are felt, and borders reopen, teachers could be lost.

The ability of young teachers to go overseas for work could be the difference between a surplus, or a shortage of nearly 1000 teachers.

After being the constant for so many, teachers are burnt out, and the union says starting teachers will be the first to leave.

As we mark two years of the pandemic, and brace for the possibility of an Omicron outbreak, we should recognise the part teachers have played in Aotearoa’s Covid-19 response. And hope the Government follows this up with tangible support, if we’re going to avoid another workforce crisis.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

close