The soft echo of isolation… In my opinion, one of the greatest reasons that teaching is a very hard job, and one that people are on the edge of leaving, is because we are so isolated from our professional peers.
Association of Teachers and Lecturers which showed that in 2011 only 62% of newly qualified teachers were still teaching a year later – a sharp drop from 2005, when 80% were still teaching after a year. The reason for these 62% leaving the profession? Stress? Parent engagement? Challenges with students? Low-pay? Low status in society? All have been offered, and all represent very real challenges that we face as teachers.
But the depth of each reason, I feel, is that we are isolated from professional colleagues. We arrive in the morning, look around an equally stressed staff room, then come across professional colleagues again later in the day as they wolf down their lunches. While I am sure that we aren’t unique in this regard of being busy, it is that we are completely isolated from our colleagues.
Over the past four weeks I have been working with a pre-service teacher who has changed my outlook. Not so much for the rigour of professional discussion, but that I am immersed in analysis of curriculum and pedagogy again. A joyful experience, and an inspiring one!
Maybe the most important change we can make to the profession is to set up a system where the professionals can actually communicate?
A few things to read if you’re interested…