Today, 27 October marks World Teachers Day – a poignant reminder of the powerful role that educators play in shaping the young minds of the future, and by extension, the world.
As the unsung heroes behind every student’s success, educators tirelessly persevere, often facing long hours, enormous workloads, and at times, low morale. Yet, their unwavering commitment to ensuring young people succeed well into the future is a testament to their indispensable place in society.
‘The impact of great teaching is remarkable and lifelong’
Mark Grant, CEO of The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) said students, parents and carers, teachers themselves, and communities have the chance today to “recognise and celebrate Australia’s amazing educators”.
“It’s an opportunity to ‘tip our hats’ to teachers’ expertise, dedication, creativity, commitment and professionalism,” Grant told The Educator.
“Each day they inspire, teach, guide and support four million students – helping them to realise the best of themselves. For some teachers, those students will be in the middle of their final exams, for others, their students have just started their learning journey, or are somewhere in between.”
Grant said the educational success of students, regardless of where they are on their path, is not possible without the knowledge and skills teachers share with them every day.
“So, on this World Teachers’ Day, AITSL will be leading everyone across the nation to share their recognition of the great work of our teachers by sharing a ‘Hats Off to Teachers’ moment – because the impact of great teaching is truly remarkable and lifelong.”
Big challenges overshadowed by ‘power and passion’
NSW Teachers Federation acting president, Henry Rajendra said while the past year had its challenges, these were “overshadowed by the power and passion” of teachers campaigning successfully for a salary agreement with the NSW Government.
“This agreement recognises the immense value of our teaching workforce and delivers for our students as a significant means to addressing the teacher shortage,” he said.
“We are all driven by an unwavering belief that public education changes lives and allows kids to make the most of themselves and contribute to a stronger, fairer society. Today, and every day, we celebrate you – the heartbeat of our schools.”
Rajendra said the impact that teachers have on shaping the next generation “beyond the classroom walls” is “profound”.
“Thank you for standing strong and making a significant difference.”
‘Teachers play the most crucial role in our community’
Former Australian Secondary Principals’ Association (ASPA) president, Andrew Pierpoint acknowledged teachers’ invaluable contributions and growing challenges amid some of the most dizzying changes that have been witnessed in Australian education.
“Our community celebrate many milestones each year – often by the dedication of a ‘day’. As I am on Long Service Leave, leading to my retirement, after 40 years as a teacher, I have a different view of the most important of ‘days’ – World Teachers Day,” Pierpoint told The Educator.
“Teachers play the most crucial role in our community day in and day out. The conditions that teachers endure to fulfill this role are becoming increasingly complex and challenging.”
Pierpoint said the changing nature of the teaching community has led to a reduced emphasis on education and, consequently, on the value placed on teachers and teaching.
“It is essential for all of us to stand shoulder to shoulder and celebrate teachers and the incredible work they do.”
‘More than one day of thanks is needed’
Pierpoint’s successor, new ASPA president Andy Mison, acknowledged the resilience of Australia’s teaching workforce through the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Teachers across Australia have endured much in recent years. They kept our schools running through the pandemic and have not stopped since,” Mison told The Educator.
“The pressures have intensified due to consequential impacts in our society, along with increased stress, disruption, and workload due to teacher shortages. If you want something done though, ask a teacher. They are the backbone of our education system and the heart of our communities. World Teachers Day is a chance to recognise them.”
Mison said more than one day of thanks is needed to properly appreciate and recognise the transformative role that teachers play in the betterment of young peoples’ lives, and society more broadly.
“Australia needs to properly invest in all our kids and the educators that work so hard for them every day,” he said. “That’s the best way we can show our respect and gratitude for the vital work our teachers do, every day.”
‘That you are influential is not by accident’
Angela Falkenberg, president of The Australian Primary Principals Association (APPA) described teachers as “the original influencers”.
“That you are influential is not by accident. You are highly credentialled, skilled professionals that embrace the joy of lifelong learning,” Falkenberg said.
“As your student’s needs change you do too, finding new ways to engage, inspire and amaze children and young people. You awaken curiosity and help students to be courageous in their learning.”
Falkenberg, who commenced teaching in 1983 was inspired to the profession by the extraordinary teachers I benefitted from during my schooling in the Barossa Valley.
“I have been privileged to spend 40 years in this marvellous profession. In that time, I have been inspired by and grateful for my teaching colleagues. They have mentored, shared ideas, motivated and even consoled me along the journey.”
Falkenberg said teachers need to remember the profoundly positive impact they have on young people’s lives, even if this is not something they hear in their day-to-day role.
“As a teacher, you may not get the specific feedback in your day-to-day job that tells you of the difference you make, the hearts you have healed and the futures you have shaped, but that’s what you achieve. Each and every day,” she said.
“That’s impressive work; so, stay fabulous and thank you to each and every teacher for all you do, and at APPA we say, ‘hats off, to teachers.’”
‘The best way politicians can celebrate World Teachers’ Day is to fund schools equitably’
Correna Haythorpe, federal president of the Australian Education Union (AEU), said World Teachers’ Day is “a great opportunity to recognise the extraordinary efforts and achievements of Australia’s teachers, who are giving 100% every day teaching and learning across Australia.”
“Research released today shows that teachers are working far longer hours for far less money than those who work in comparable professions,” Haythorpe told The Educator.
To coincide with World Teachers’ Day, the AEU has launched a ‘National road trip’, driving across Australia to give the PM thousands of postcards calling for the full funding of public schools.
“Only 1.3% of public schools are funded at the Schooling Resource Standard – the minimum amount governments agreed a decade ago was necessary to meet the needs of all students,” Haythorpe said.
“With full funding we can address unsustainable workloads and uncompetitive salaries which is critical to attracting and retaining the teachers we need.”
Haythorpe said while principals, teachers and education support personnel are delivering a great education for young people in public schools, “they are being asked to do too much with too little.”
“The best way our politicians can celebrate World Teachers Day is by funding public schools to a minimum of 100 per cent of the SRS.”