I suspect that 2020 has been a year where many parents have gained an insight and a greater understanding of the work of teachers.
There have been more than a few parents who have commented to me on their improved understanding and appreciation of the role of a teacher having had their children at home working and learning between April and October.
October 30th is celebrated as World Teachers’ Day. It is a day where we celebrate the work of teachers at The Knox School but also the teaching profession more broadly.
What teachers do, what teachers say each day influences the knowledge, the understanding, attitudes, and the mindset of young people. They are the most influential person in the life of a child, outside of the child’s parents.
The dedication and professionalism, the adaptability and resilience that have been exhibited by teachers I know this year is nothing short of incredible; bordering on the amazing. The shift in professional working habits has been profound, yet the four pillars and five values we work with at The Knox School do not vary, albeit they have been manifest in different ways.
I have been reading some articles recently reporting research into teachers’ COVID experiences and they seem to support what I would have thought was apparent to many of us. That is, the demands of remote learning have fostered greater collaboration between parents and teachers as schools and families communicate to manage changed circumstances.
The evidence clearly shows that Australian teachers take personal pride and satisfaction in what they do. Yet many teachers in Australia do not think they are highly valued by their community, yet we know that teachers contribute to the wellbeing and success of future generations.
Results from the 2018 OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) indicate that only 45% of Australian teachers in lower secondary schools believe that the teaching profession is valued by society. This is a 6% increase from 2013 and it is higher than the OECD average. It shows that Australian teachers generally do not feel appreciated for their work.
However, The Australian community does appear to value the profession more highly than teachers realise. School teaching is viewed as a profession with high levels of honesty and ethical standards by 81% of the sample of Australians aged 14 and over in polling undertaken by Roy Morgan in 2017. The figure of 81% was up 4% from 2016, the year before and was a new high for the profession since the survey was first conducted way back in 1976. Teaching was ranked fourth out of 30 different professions polled by Roy Morgan in 2017, above engineers, dentists, police, High Court judges, Supreme Court judges, and University lecturers but below nurses, doctors, and pharmacists.
The discrepancy between how teachers perceive they are valued and how the public perceives them was shown again in a 2019 study by researchers from Monash University. In their study, 29% of teachers felt the Australian public appreciated them, whereas 82% of the public felt that teachers were respected and 93% of the public felt that teachers were trusted. Overall, the Australian community generally agrees that teachers are valued, respected, and trusted albeit that teachers do not seem to feel the ‘warmth’.
These data sets represent surveys across the country. From our parent satisfaction survey data, the teachers I work with are appreciated and valued. They know this and value parental feedback and family context.
World Teacher’s Day acknowledged the work of teachers. It is great that this work is acknowledged on a day set aside for that purpose. However, we all know that the focus goes on, day in and day out, year in and year out, in partnership with parents.
It takes a village to raise a child and it also takes a long time!