It’s Time To Stop Bashing Teachers

The understatement of the year will be that has been the strangest and most unexpected year most of us will probably (and hopefully) ever experience. When schools closed to the majority of pupils in March, I don’t think anyone really thought they would still be largely empty until September. As a result, this has been a very stressful time for students who have missed the interaction and security that the school afforded them. Moreover, it has also been a stressful time for teachers adapting and redoing schemes of work for home learning and compiling the Centre Assessed Grades that would stay with young people for the rest of their lives.

Teachers and school staff have continued working throughout the pandemic attending sessions in school, overseeing and marking home-learning, continuing pastoral commitments and much more alongside often caring for others at home. Despite this, in recent months there has been much debate about the ‘value’ of teachers, whether they have done enough during the crisis and the need just get on and get back to school in September.
Twitter can be a great tool, but some of the comments directed to teachers and the education sector over the last few months are indicative of the poor and ill-conceived perceptions people seem to have come to about teachers. In May, I remember seeing discussions about what teachers had actually been doing all this time and how they were ‘lazy’ and ‘didn’t want to go back to work’, in comparison to private school teachers who had been doing ‘live lessons’. There are many things to unpack here. Despite the media perceptions, teachers are not lazy and I urge anyone who thinks they are to spend a few minutes genuinely listening to what we have to do on a daily basis, the hours we work even in those really long holidays people go on about. Teaching five year-groups a day, marking their books, pastoral duties, extra-curricular- the list goes on.

Secondly, teachers in state schools have been setting and marking significant amounts of work, even if they are not ‘live lessons’. Besides, research by Education Endowment Foundation suggests that live lessons are no more effective than an audio or video recording that students can refer to that aids their learning. The denigration of state school teachers is probably part of the reason why people leave the profession within the first few years, alongside the significant workload and stringent levels of accountability.

The other hot-topic on social media in recent weeks was the announcement of a MASSIVE PAY RISE for teachers for their hard work during the pandemic. This has been totally misrepresented by the media. The 5-6% for new teachers was agreed back in January, way before we knew what Covid-19 was so it has nothing to do with the pandemic. Moreover, every time there is any talk of a teacher or school staff getting a pay rise people talk about how easy we have it due to all the holidays. To annoy these people more, I would like to point out we are not paid for the summer holidays.

How do we move on and improve the reputation of teachers in the media and social media? This has been going on for so long now that I think it will be hard to change a lot of people’s perceptions. However, what we can do is continue to be our positive, hard-working, ambitious and inspiring selves to try to change the attitudes of some people. If the last week has shown anything, it is that teachers and those in schools know far more about education than any computer system and certain politicians.

NQT Self, Teaching

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