A calculator goes flying across the room and smashes into the blackboard. A young girl points her fingers in the shape of a gun and shouts “bang bang” has she ‘fires’ at the man standing at the front of the room. This are not a scene from movie or a teenage boy’s video game. This is the modern classroom and the kind of behaviour our teachers are dealing with everyday.
Remember when we used to sit up straight in class, when teachers were treated with respect by their students and when they had a steady level of support from the government? Well that’s all changed according to many teachers around Australia who are throwing in the towel after years of stress and disappointment.
New research has found between 30 and 50 per cent of our teachers are resigning within their first five years on the job. They are citing a complete lack of support to deal with the issues in modern classrooms and the demands that come with it.
While teaching has never been an easy job – indeed the pressure and demand on teachers to live up to expectations and reach certain benchmarks has always been high – it seems these pressures have finally become all too much.
It’s not just happening in Australia either. Teachers around the world are dealing with unruly and disrespectful students without support from schools or governments. One American teacher even wrote a book about his experience in a New York high school where he had a large metal sharpener thrown at him by one student and was constantly berated and sworn at during class by others.
Australian primary school teacher Kimberly Crawford said she was exhausted by the challenges she faced in the classroom everyday.
“I was keen to stay in the education sector to a certain degree, but just really felt that I was emotionally burnt out from the demands of a classroom environment,” she told the ABC.
“There were a large amount of additional needs, I taught children with behavioural difficulties and a wide range of special needs.
“A lot of the time it was dependent on seeking out support yourself.”
Where teachers once received funding and support to go to professional development, now they are struggling to even find full-time roles. Coupled with the attitude problems from some children and the pressure to ensure students achieve high grades in exams, we have to wonder: is it all too much for a teacher to handle?