A teacher is so much more than just someone who teaches a curriculum 126



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This week it was announced that Australian teachers were undergoing an overhaul to improve the quality of teaching right across the board. The first measure introduced by Christopher Pyne earlier in the week is that teachers will now have to pass numeracy and literacy tests before they can finish their degree and enter the classroom.

Australia has reportedly had declining success in terms of international rankings when it comes to maths and reading skills and this is something that we once were internationally renowned for. There’s no reason why Australian’s shouldn’t be some of the best in the world when it comes to education as we have all of the resources.

But right now I want to put the quality of curriculum teaching aside and instead look at the quality of our teachers. Being a teacher is a complex task. Not all of us may consider it so but for so many children, their teachers are the role models and adults they learn most from. With more and more parents working full time now than ever, the role of the teacher is becoming more important – not just because they teach the curriculum but also because they play such a critical in shaping who their students are.

The most remarkable teacher I ever had was in grade nine. He was a gentle man and he was great at teaching us maths but the thing that made him so special, so unique was that he made us realise our potential – whatever that was. If we were good at sport, he would talk to us about it and help us to work on ways to improve. If we were good at English, he would ask us what our assessment for that subject was and would talk to us about it and give thought provoking discussion that helped us to expand our thinking.

He gave every student his time and genuine thought. He wanted us to succeed, he wanted us to be able to realise our potential and achieve it. It wasn’t about the curriculum or teaching us algebra, it was about making us better people.

Another teacher I had earlier in my schooling didn’t care how we completed our work in class as long as it was always collaborative. We always had to work in teams and no one could be left out. If there was someone without a group he would change every single group around until everyone was included and we were always with new people. He taught us to work with all kinds of people, to cooperate and collaborate. Our work was important but the skill of always including others and working together was by far the most important thing he gave to his students.

My senior teacher was completely different to any others. She openly told us that our marks wouldn’t define our future. They might for a year or two but they wouldn’t determine our life path. She made sure that we all knew that while academics were important, the person we become is the only thing that will matter and so she helped us to become the best person possible. Although she held a senior role in the leadership team of the school she had an “open door” policy for all seniors and we could go to her with any problem big or small and she’d give us guidance.

You see, the teachers I am most thankful and appreciative for weren’t the ones who taught me the most or gave me the most knowledge. They were the people that helped me to become the best person I could become. The ones that I remember now are the ones who contributed to making me the person I am today and it is my hope that although we focus on the curriculum our grandchildren are taught and although we rank teachers on the marks their students achieve, we don’t forget the other things that truly make a teacher great.

Tell us, what memories do you have of your teachers? What were the most special ones like? What did they teach you? What should our grandkids be taught?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I went to the dandenong girls school and we had wonderful teachers our headmistress was miss board man strict and very nice

  2. Have such respect for teachers these days, it’s not a profession that many of us would take on, with little support from parents, government & very average wages, I think most of them do a fantastic job.

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  3. My favourite teacher was Mr Walmsley. He was our Principal and such a lovely man. Not sure he was a highly effective teacher in academic terms though.

  4. Teachers do it very hard with some pupils having no respect at all for them, no more straps though.

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  5. I totally agree with your article. As a teacher so many years ago, my main purpose was to help students believe in themselves and become their best selves. It was always a thrill to watch those that flourished – often in spite of huge obstacles.

  6. Who teaches the children if it not the teachers..

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    • Their parents for a starter parents should be responsible for the teaching of..good manners…acceptable behaviour..puntuality..anti bullying..and hygiene. Parents need to reaffirm their rights to being their childs teacher guardian and behavoural arbitor…not teachers.

    • Agree… Every adult is a teacher… Lead by example… Teach by example … But I didn’t read the whole post just that teachers are under scrutiny over failing maths etc… So I’m wondering does that make it the parents fault if their children don’t pass their maths etc tests. Is it inattention at class. Bad manners or lack of respect not listening or teacher skills… Don’t know…. I know in my grand daughters year 11 class she an A student.. But she told me half the class paid no attention and the teacher didn’t know how to teach the ski of maths either by talking to the black board where no one could hear and when told student didn’t understand was told to listen … Just tricky times now a days… Parents teachers grandparents everyone are teachers of both accademics and living skills and mannerisms

  7. Remember older teachers came from the top end of the spectrum and were tested for their knowledge of literacy and numeracy before they started. Not from the lower end. They also spent more time studying how to and not all the frilly stuff

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    • Mike here-had a friend who, when she started teaching, started at grade 5, SA level.She wanted to teach infant school which she achieved after a couple of years of ptoving she had the right stuff.

  8. I applaud your article and agree with your sentiments, but this does not remove the need for all teachers to attain minimum standards of literacy and numeracy. This needs to be the foundation upon which all other pedagogical skills are built.

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  9. Mike here-believe that one of the biggest problems is teachers trying to be BFF’s. Mr. Phillips, (grade 7 SA) was a good teacher, honest, proud of his class but nevertried to be mates with students & we didn’t expect him to.

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  10. Young teachers I know work on average between 50/60 hours a week. They take work home, they prepare their classes for the following week on the weekend or after school. They are smart, well educated people and at the same time they manage to put in quality time with their own family. I am not a teacher, I’m a parent.

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    • So true Jan, I have teachers in my family & the hours they put in outside of working hours can be huge & they can’t claim over time, Teachers are back at school before school holidays finish, at night & weekends they do lesson planing, marking research, paper work for the education dept, parent teacher interviews, after school coaching & training for sport events, organising school events & camps & trips & staff meetings, the list goes on & on but most people don’t see that side to their jobs.

    • it’s not just the young teachers or the full-time ones that work their tails off. As a relief teacher (of some 40 years experience in full and part-time employment) I am often at work an hour or so before I need to officially be there and often don’t go home for at least an hour after school finishing marking and leaving notes, etc for the class teachers.

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