Sunday, January 30, 2011

Being proud of those making a difference

I'm the first one to say, teachers have a pretty good wicket to play on. The pay is getting better, the holidays aren't bad and when you have a supportive administration, teaching is a lot of fun. There are a lot of teachers taking advantage of this, it's true.. but there are also many going way past what is required, doing what is necessary.

I'm one of those that is very proud of what my school is and does; and I refuse to be negative about what we achieve. Our kids do not come to high school ready with all the skills they require. They have parents that work 2 jobs, many are abused or neglected, have poor nutrition and health, have few positive role models outside of school, have strong negative peer influences, have access to little help outside of the classroom, have few aspirations, no career guidance, already work long hours to help families make ends meet, have low expectations of their own ability and performance, limited access to resources, few options for subject selection.

Yet every year, up to half of our year twelve cohort goes to university. Not just goes, but are ready and skilled to perform at the highest level. Another group enters TAFE, starts apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships. Another enters the workforce and starts the gradual climb to owning their own home and financial independence.

There's also the hidden statistics, the kids that are the first in their families to get to year 10 for the first time. The kids that raise their attendance from sporadic to regular. The parents that gain an interest in their children's performance. The kids that succeed despite low expectations (or ability) through the intervention of a teacher or two. The kids that get that positive work ethic and attitude that will carry them through hard times. Those that conquer substance abuse in their homes and turn their backs on criminal activities. Those that succeed despite physical and mental handicaps.

As a teacher, I look at the results of year 12 and take pleasure being a part of an education equation. If my kids get opportunities as a result of finishing school, staff at all levels of the organisation should take pleasure, no one teacher made the difference. We as a school have achieved something.

The Aussie battler is not just a person in the bush, it's kids and organisations that do things despite the odds, with limited resources and where others are trying to take advantage of them (yes I'm looking at you IPS staffing!). Our principal, administration and teaching staff are giving it a good go, and for my mind last year succeeded in many areas. If we keep our eye on the ball and support each other, we'll do it again.. and again...

Cheers to that!

Oh, and DoE take note.. support your low socio-economic schools or you will end up with these kids unsupported in large mid socio-economic schools with teachers that cannot cope nor want them. If you create a permanent underclass be prepared to be named as the cause when it happens.

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