A Reflection on World Teachers’ Day

Last week we celebrated World Teachers’ Day. This day encouraged our community to take a moment and show…

Last week we celebrated World Teachers’ Day. This day encouraged our community to take a moment and show gratitude for our teacher’s dedicated efforts, passion, and unwavering commitment to St Hilda’s.

When education systems worldwide are facing a global shortage of educators, the importance of celebrating World Teachers’ Day is even more crucial.

Educational news is dominated by global headlines about countries struggling to recruit and retain teachers. Put simply, there are not enough teachers to meet the schooling demands in nearly all developed and underdeveloped countries. Some schools in the Netherlands have been forced to transition to a 4-day week model to accommodate their shortage. An exodus of teachers in Hong Kong has created great unrest, with class sizes reaching an all-time high. A week before the school year commenced in France, they faced a shortage of 4,000 teachers before 12 million students returned to school. The UK and USA are leading the global trend, reporting the highest percentage of teachers leaving the profession. Some schools in the USA have resorted to employing parents as relief teachers because they can’t resource relief teaching. In the UK, the severe shortage continues with larger classes than ever before and more subjects being taught by staff without a relevant degree. Sadly, but not unexpectedly, Australia and Perth are now part of this ‘teacher shortage’ conversation with The West Australian recently publishing an article on 24 October titled “Hundreds of teachers with limited registration in WA schools.”

Celebrating the incredible job that our teachers do every day and expressing our gratitude for their dedication is one small positive step in ensuring they know they are valued and treasured. Our teachers can have a transformative influence on our girls.

We are incredibly fortunate to be in a position where we can still attract and retain incredible educators who, together, shape the minds and hearts of the future generation of St Hilda’s girls. But we must remember to be kind to them. My role as principal is to ensure that St Hilda’s provides a work environment in which all staff are treated with respect by all members of our community, even when members of our community are emotionally heightened. There is never an excuse to be a keyboard warrior. Problems and issues can always be resolved respectfully.

One of the positive outcomes of transitioning to online and home learning throughout the COVID years was the insights that parents gained into what it takes to teach children. Teaching is an incredibly rewarding profession; however, it is also a very challenging and demanding profession. Many of our parents were in awe of what our teachers do, creating learning opportunities for various personalities and learning styles while considering different emotional and academic needs and wide-ranging levels of attitude and aptitude, all in one lesson!

As parents, we can be so quick to respond when there is an issue, or something has occurred that we are not so pleased about. Teachers are often on the receiving end of these issues and complaints. We are all human. As parents, it’s important to consider whether we would like to receive the communication we have crafted. If not, perhaps it might be worth reconsidering before we press send. Teachers are important in helping, guiding, and assisting parents and girls at St Hilda’s and are committed to working in partnership. Respectful communication makes our partnership a far more positive one for all involved.

Our girls took time to thank a teacher who has positively impacted their lives. This simple act of gratitude goes such a long way. There is nothing more joyful for a teacher to receive a thank you note, or an email, from a student thanking them for the extra care that they extended outside of hours, or for giving up their weekend to attend a camp or trip, or coming in over the holiday period in the lead up to exams, or simply waiting back late at night, if a parent is running late for pick up.

Time and time again, I see our staff sacrificing their family time to support our girls. Every day I see staff checking in on our girls, guiding our girls, inspiring our girls, laughing with our girls, and motivating our girls. I also see our staff setting high expectations and holding our girls accountable for their actions. Our teachers play an indelible role in building the character of our girls and shaping their lives. This often goes beyond the traditional role of the teacher. They are also mentors and role models.