In discussing the factors that determine positive student outcomes, School Principal Deborah Kenny stated that: “If you had an amazing teacher who was talented and passionate and given the freedom and support to teach well that was just 100 times more important than anything else.”
Indeed, most of us can remember the teacher or teachers who most influenced us to be the people we have become. While this may have been through out-of-the-box ideas, a passion for the subject matter or a unique teaching approach, in most cases this was likely to have come from something far simpler – through taking the time to make us feel noticed, understood and cared for.
While not quite “100 times more important”, a 2017 comprehensive study into the efficacy of Australian schools, produced by Deloitte Access Economics, also found that teachers are enormously influential and “the effect of teaching practice is estimated to be twice as significant as the next most significant driver of school quality.”
Yet despite the fact that we know how vital our teachers are in supporting our students to thrive, Australia is sadly lacking in the level of respect afforded to teachers in public discourse. Australia was not included in a 2018 global survey of 35 countries which compared levels of teacher respect. This found that China and Malaysia topped the scale where teaching was revered in relation to other professions. Right at the bottom end were Israel and Brazil. Yet local research indicates that Australia has a long way to go in offering teachers the respect that they deserve.
A 2017-2018 audit of all Queensland media coverage regarding teachers found that over the twelve months, in eleven of these, negative coverage outweighed positive coverage. Teachers have been criticised for perceived slipping standards, poor work ethic and long holidays when in reality, almost every study indicates that teaching practice in Australia is improving while our teachers are working harder and longer hours than ever before.
Did you know that it is estimated that 30 to 50 per cent of graduate teachers in Australia leave the profession within the first 5 years? In addition to this, we have seen a significant decline in tertiary enrolments into teaching courses and this has contributed to what is now being referred to as a crisis in teacher supply.
At King David we value the wonderful impact our teachers make on our students’ lives. We employ passionate educators who are invested in our students’ successes. We recognise that the teacher-student relationship is the key one in ensuring student success and so we invest time in developing our teachers’ capacities to support student wellbeing though our conferences, professional development and programs. We know that our teachers work hard and are always striving for better. We try to take notice, offer support and celebrate their contributions in many ways.
I am hopeful that the above discussion has led you to the conclusion that our teachers are your children’s most important resources at school. With this in mind I ask that you take heed of the following important public service reminder – please take the time to let your child’s teachers know how much you appreciate them!