Teachers are the foundation of our future!

Teachers. We’ve all had them. We’ve had many of them. Sometimes we might know a few teachers who were not our own. Friends and family members. We might have non-school teachers; of dance, or sport. But between the ages of 6 and 18, teachers have been a part of our lives whether we’ve liked them or not.

Fortunately, my own mother is a teacher herself and so I have come to learn a lot about the behind-the-scenes of the profession. I have been taught by both my parents about the important value of education (to the point where it has become a particularly passionate subject of conversation of mine) and have personally discovered the benefits of being lucky enough to have some of THE BEST teachers this country has to offer.

And let me clarify, when I say; ‘THE BEST’, I’m not necessarily talking about their prestige or personal education level. I merely mean the best at what they do – which I will get into in a minute.

I want to firstly point out that I don’t think teachers receive enough credit for what they do. Students will bag their teachers when they get the chance or complain about the homework (guilty), and even parents are not fully aware of the effort that goes into teaching and supporting their kids.

It is my absolute belief that a teacher is not merely there to teach a student what needs to be taught. A good teacher builds relationships with his or her students. They encourage students to be the best version of themselves. They teach their students values outside of the curriculum. They build a community within the classroom and (this one’s important) they contribute the foundation of a student’s future!

Without teachers, education would not be passed on. without education, we would not receive skills and qualifications to get jobs and establish career. Without employment, the economy would not ‘go round’. Essentially, teachers are the foundation of our economy.

Now I know, I know, it’s not as simple as that. But you do see my point. Yes, some of us are lucky enough that we learn from many people in our lives. Non-teachers. Friends, family members or other caregivers. All of these people are absolutely vital. But you cannot deny that a teacher does teach us the bulk of what we need to learn when it comes to being a contributing member of society and for those students who don’t have positive role models in their lives, a teacher can be all they have left and the importance becomes even greater.

But like I said, it’s not just about learning the curriculum. Life is not all 1 + 1 = 2. Our teachers teach us values both in the classroom and out in the school yard. Values like inclusiveness and friendship. And of course, work ethic is a big one you learn in high school.

I don’t know about other schools but at my high school, between year 7 and 10 we had an entirely separate subject called pathways dedicated to teaching us anything that didn’t fall under the other subjects of; Health, Science, History, English and Math. It was essentially the subject that focused on community values as well as looking at our own futures. What we planned to do, where we planned to go, and who we planned to be. Then devising strategies on how we planned to achieve all of this. it was a subject thought up by our school and the pathways program – I believe – did a lot of good for many students.

If you’re really lucky, you will come across a great teacher. A teacher who was both able to do his or her job properly and all the while build terrific personal relationships with students and create a fun and safe environment to work in. They might be someone who made you and other students laugh. They be someone who helped you sort out personal difference between you and other students. Or they might simply be someone who noticed you. Someone who saw you when you felt invisible and encouraged you even when you doubted yourself. Those are just some of signs of a good teacher, but you’ll know one when you meet them.

I myself have had many incredible teachers in my life. I wish I could tell you about them all but today I’ll just mention my all-time favourite. Mrs Petridis was my grade 5 and 6 teacher. It was the year I had finally moved schools after being bullied for quite some time at my first primary school. Now I could write an entire article on this amazing little school – Dinjerra Primary – but I will save that for another time. Mrs Petridis was probably the school’s best teacher, so I was lucky to get into her class both years.

Right from the get-go Mrs Petridis introduced me to the class as if I was already one of her own students. I distinctly remember her urging the famous chant “good morning [Claudia], you gorgeous creature, have a lovely day” (a school traditional greeting which I found most delightful and the inspiration for my sign off).

Mrs Petridis and I got along like a house on fire. Perhaps it was our shared birthday (which we each celebrated on Sunday… 19, we are!). But she and I were so alike it was hysterical. We both loved to sing and dance and most of all have a good laugh. Mrs Petridis knew how to entertain a room full of kids and she always made every day fun. She had a real flare for creativity in the classroom in everything she taught us.

One time we had the annual book parade for… literacy week, or book week I think it was. anyway, she decided that our class would each go as a character from the Mr Men series (you know those little books with the colourful characters). Anyway, it was extra special because she tried to give us a character based on our personal traits which (because she is such as good teacher) she had come to learn very well. I, of course, got Little Miss Chatterbox. We each then made our own cardboard cut-outs of our characters to take to the parade.

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“Mr Men & Little Miss character parade. My class rock!!!” – Angela Petridis

She also fuelled a lot of the friendships I made during those years which I will forever be grateful for and most importantly she taught me about believing in myself. She also brought back in me my spark of confidence which had slowly been taken away from me during the time that I was bullied. That’s something incredibly powerful and it was done by a teacher!

Of course, there are so many other influential teachers past and present in my life including my dance teacher and many other high school teachers. But I also know the hard work that goes into preparing lessons and planning entire terms or assessments, reports as demonstrated by my own mother. A woman who works tirelessly every single night and goes above and beyond when it comes to preparing for her classes, making sure that each lesson is fun and interesting while being appropriate and incorporating all the required content. I understand the hard work so well that it has deterred me from ever wanting to become a teacher myself.

BUT… I absolutely, without a doubt, have tremendous respect for all teachers who go home every night to the same work load, all for the benefit of us students and our own futures. That is why teachers deserve more credit and should be valued.

I’ll admit, some teachers can be grumpy, boring old duds who either hate or show no interest in the lives of children. And it is unfortunate if you happen across one of those. But all I can say is those teachers shouldn’t be teachers. You have to really love and understand children to be in that kind of profession and so I would hope that the duds are a rarity.

I guess all I wanted to say today was that a. we should give our teachers more love and credit for what they do for our futures and for our wider community. And b. gosh they need a pay raise. I’m not just saying that for my own mother’s sake, but I genuinely think teachers are not paid enough for the work they do, and then there’s integration aids too!

I hate to say it, but I do think that the reason for the low rate of pay in this profession is due to the simple fact that it is a women dominated profession. The question is, when are we finally going to close the wage gap between men and women?

Oh gosh, I’ve just opened up a whole other can of worms. Better leave it there.

Have a lovely day! Xx

P.S; Ang and I still keep in touch to this day!

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