It’s Time to Raise The Bar And Narrow The Gap

In my first teaching job, I worked in a school that had the goal of raising the bar, and narrowing the gap.
Through the persistence and hard work of students and teachers, and the support of parents we were able to start achieving this ambitious goal.
But this is not the same everywhere. And it got me thinking.
Why is it so hard to raise the bar and narrow the gap in education?

The Global Teachers Status Index Report 2018

Over the weekend I read the 2018 Global Status Index Report.
And it didn’t surprise me that in the United Kingdom and the United States, teaching as a profession isn’t highly valued.
It’s the same story in Australia. Although at least in Australia, the pay is better.

Teachers Do Work On Their Holidays

Most teachers work really hard.
They work after hours, on weekends, and yes, on holidays.
It’s true, they get up to three months off, fully paid each year.
But most teachers I know, work during those holidays, correcting, catching up on admin and up-skilling.
When I was teaching I was grateful for the holidays. Not so that I could take time off, so that I could catch up.
I used the time away from students and colleagues to develop curriculum, review my teaching resources, continue my education (a Postgraduate Certificate in Middle School Literacy and an Masters of Education), and spend time taking time correcting work so that I could give useful feedback.
I’m not sharing this to blow my own trumpet, only to illustrate that this is a typical teacher experience.
Yet, teachers are often criticised for complaining for wanting things to be better for their students and themselves, for asking to be paid more and for wanting respect.

These Statistics Might Surprise You
  1. There is a correlation between the status accorded to teachers […] and student outcomes in their country. In other words, high teacher status is not just ‘nice to have’ – increasing teacher status can directly improve the pupil performance of a country’s students.
  2. In recent years OECD countries are experiencing a shortage of teachers, especially in STEM subjects.
  3. The recruitment and retention of teachers in the United Kingdom and United States has continued to fall.
  4. Teachers in the UK and US work some of the longest hours of teachers around the world. In some cases clocking up over 60 hours per week. Yes, 60 hours. I can confirm that estimate to be accurate from the teachers I’ve worked with and of course myself.
So What Can We All Do?

Let’s acknowledge that teachers work hard.
Let’s treat teachers like professionals. (I know I’ve said this before).
Let’s pay teachers appropriately.
And finally, let’s appreciate the important role teachers play in society.

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Published on: December 17, 2018

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