TEACHERS SHOULD NOT BE PROFESSIONALLY MALIGNED

This item was published in the NT Sun on Tuesday 12 February under the heading Teachers under fire.

TEACHERS SHOULD NOT BE PROFESSIONALLY MALIGNED

A lot has been said and written about the need for teachers to be professionals who meet an expanding raft of the developmental needs of students. Educational expectations held for teachers seem to be constantly expanding.

Teaching is more minutely inspected by the community than any other profession. It seems greater responsibility for the bringing up and development of children is placed on teachers and schools rather than on parents and homes. It has become the done thing for some parents and primary caregivers when things go wrong for children, to vent their displeasure on teachers.

The bullying of teachers by a cohort of parents is an issue of growing concern. The Sunday Territorian (Teachers’ bullying crisis, January 27 2019) confirmed that the Australian Education Union (NT) is worried about this trend and its impact on teaching staff. Union secretary Adam Lampe said he was aware of incidents “ … where parents scream and harass teachers constantly in person and online … that can really take a toll … teachers leave their jobs, transfer and even fall into depression – it pushes people to a breaking point.”

Stories from media outlets within the Territory and around Australia are increasingly reporting on matters of teacher abuse. The way in which the personality and character of teachers can be misrepresented and maligned is extremely alarming.

Expectations held of teachers from selection and training through to their delivery of educational outcomes in the classroom, are subject to increasing scrutiny. However, respect for them in personal and professional terms seems to be diminishing.

The Department of Education is on the record as upholding the fact that “ … wellbeing and safety of all … staff is paramount. … The department takes all incidents seriously and does not condone bullying, harassment and violence of any form in schools.” (Op cit)

I believe that teachers are at times reluctant to report matters of bullying behaviour to school leaders because they may be considered as not able to manage unpleasant situations. Contract, limited tenure and relief staff particularly, may feel that raising the issue will adversely affect their future employment opportunities.

It may well be that some school principals, who are on end-dated contracts, feel the same way about reporting these matters to the department. The Teachers Union maintains that a significant number of teacher bullying incidents go unreported.

Most parents are people who develop respectful relationships with their children’s teachers. However, the actions of the minority referred to in recent reports, negatively misrepresent that majority. Bullying and abusive behaviour should be consigned to history.

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