Teaching’s in my DNA, I am a teacher with almost 10 years’ experience. Also, my mother is a Deputy Principal, my wife is an early childhood educator and my sister is also a teacher. I have worked with many inspiring and dedicated teachers. I love teaching – when you have one of those great “teaching moments,” there aren’t many better feelings than knowing that you are actually having an impact on a young person’s life.
Yet, due to the draining nature of the system and frustration at not being able to put more time and energy into teaching – I felt the need to leave the education system. Check out Gabbie Stroud’s memoir for Griffith Review to get the gist of why so many teachers are leaving the profession.
I embarked on a journey of opening a kid-friendly cafe, Hide and Seek Cafe in Leichhardt. It was a life-changing experience and the highs and lows of running a small-business were exactly like being on a roller-coaster – one moment you feel like throwing up and the next like you are on top of the world! I might go into the reasons for its closure another time, but for now, I want to talk about how the experience has led me to pick up that whiteboard marker once again!
The Return to teaching
Failing can be an extremely humbling experience. I went from having so much drive and purpose to lacking direction. After 12-months of self-reflecting and educating myself, the same reason that I opened up Hide and Seek Cafe, is also the same reason why I am returning to teaching – my daughter. I created the cafe due to the lack of proper kid-friendly cafes and I now feel the need to return to teaching because of the need to ensure that every child has every chance to become the best version of themselves!
Despite all of the shortfalls of the education system in Australia, there are still small pockets of hope! There are a number of extremely wise people such as Sir Ken Robinson, John Hattie, Geoff Masters and Jane Caro pushing to ensure that our young people flourish in the future. After hours and hours of research, I worked out the need to put my ego to the side and to help education get on the right track.
Why I am transitioning into primary teaching
In my previous life as a teacher, my speciality subject had always been PDHPE (Personal Development, Health and Physical Education). However, after making the decision to return to teaching, I also realised that my skills and knowledge may be better suited in a primary school setting.
One of my frustrations with teaching in high schools is the over-emphasis on the HSC and the amount of tick-a-box administrative duties (I know this still exists in primary schools). Numerous worldwide studies have shown how poorly Australia is travelling academically. It is terrible news for many Indigenous students, those from rural communities and from low-socioeconomic backgrounds.
Changes to the way that we learn, socialise and exercise all contribute to the fact that young people are experiencing more mental health issues than ever before. Mission Australia’s Youth Mental Health Report found that one in four young Australian’s are at risk of serious mental health conditions.
In Year 7, they roll-in with 200 other young whippersnappers who all have their own stories. Their teachers want to get to know them, however, they are struggling themselves. Inundated with programming, assessing and reporting. By the time the first parent-teacher interviews come around, most teachers struggle to remember the name of the child sitting in front of them, let alone how they are actually travelling academically.
I am hoping that by teaching in a primary school and using evidence-based practice, I can help close the disadvantaged gap and help my students fulfil their potential. There will be many challenges – heck I have been getting stressed out just walking into K-Mart to set up my classroom. However, my intentions will always be to ensure the best for my students.
I no longer look at teaching as a job, but rather my chance to give back. If I can help mould my students to be collaborative, respectful and hard-working people with a love of learning – then I have been successful.