My early teaching career was not what I had hoped for or expected. It left me defeated. I persevered for years at what was an extremely difficult position, with little support from the organisation as a whole. I know I’m not alone in what my experiences have been and when we come into the profession, we bring our own ideals, background, abilities and emotional intelligence (among other contributing factors and traits). I was young, too close in age to my student perhaps. I was inexperienced and I was not emotionally ready. However, whilst these early years and the negative things that occurred have shaped the direction of my career, I am choosing now to join in the quest for increased support for new teachers and for all teachers at all stages of their careers.
The NSW Government, a few years ago, started to initiate the implementation of large-scale educational reforms, the most significant in the State’s history perhaps. These reforms are intended to increase teacher quality and thereby increase student outcomes. But at what cost? Familiarising myself with all of the reforms and formal documentation regarding the changes being implemented to policies and procedures, I started to ponder the ramifications that these could have on the key stakeholders for the reforms… the teachers/educators and the students. My key question has been: Will the reforms and the implementation of them, have a negative impact on the stakeholders because of the scale of them and the nature of how they are being, or are to be, implemented?
Teachers’ day-to-day duties are already so significant, its not a 9-3 or even a 9-5 job, its a vocation that is quite consuming. Most educators go into this profession knowing the enormity of the duties involved, however, the reforms being implemented are changing the role of school leaders from that of educational leaders to managerial change agents and business executives, without the administrative background and training to support them. This is just one example.
In pursuing my PhD, hoping to start my research in the new year, I have considered these things a great deal. Reflecting on my own career has been a huge catalyst that accompanies my contemplation on the reforms and my passion for education. I don’t wish for new teachers to come into a career they have possibly dreamed on entering for most of their life, only to have those dreams shattered and obliterated by pressures and stresses that crumble their capacity to create successful teaching and learning experiences. I support the reforms intentions and desired outcomes, however, I just worry that the support mechanisms are not there for staff and that what is intended to produce positive outcomes will perhaps do so, but at the expense of teacher morale, self-efficacy and so much more.
My career pursuits have often been driven by a desire and passion to assist fellow educators to be at their most effective, equipped with resources, knowledge, understanding and skills to deliver teaching and learning experiences that let them thrive, as well as their students. I hope my PhD can continue to help me enlarge my perspective and impact on educators, especially during this critical phase in the educational context of NSW and Australia. Education for me has played a fundamental role in who I am in a way but more so, the experiences I’ve had as a learner, only serve to continue spurring me on to new heights of lifelong learning. I want to inspire and instill that passion for greater lifelong learning in others too.