An Australian teacher has written an open letter to the Premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, saying she’ll never forget ‘the lack of respect’ teachers have been given throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
The teacher, who wishes to remain anonymous but gave Yahoo Lifestyle permission to republish her letter, said she’s ‘hanging on by a thread’ as schools around NSW opened up full time again yesterday, following weeks of online teaching.
Read the full letter from the teacher below, which was written last week, just after she claims the principal of the school where she works found out about the return to school changes on the 6pm news.
As a teacher in New South Wales, this week I feel broken. I’ve never felt so unsupported or unseen by an employer.
Why? Since this global pandemic started we’ve done what you wanted. We continued on with ‘business as usual’ when you said schools were open because it was safe and students needed somewhere to go. We changed the way we taught in a matter of days because you made an announcement for parents/carers to keep kids home if they were able to do so.
We adapted to this new way of teaching and learning as best we could given the circumstances. We provided support to our students in any way, shape or form possible. We returned to school after the holidays, in which many of us teaching away from home were stranded alone in lockdown, to a document that explained how a phased return was going to be implemented.
We planned work for our students based on this phased plan. We started back with face-to-face lessons in Week 3 while also teaching online. We’ve cleaned desks, sanitised hands and have done our best to make the learning environment for our students as safe as possible.
We’ve taught the same lesson multiple times in order to adhere to social distancing measures that we were asked to implement. We’ve worked hard to ensure learning has continued and the transition from each phase would be as seamless as possible.
Then, this week you announce that students will be returning to the classroom full time from next Monday despite us only being in Phase 1 of the released plan, and our principals saw it on the 6pm news.
This has been decided with little to no consultation with the stakeholders involved. Throughout this pandemic the lack of communication from our employer, the NSW Education Department, a government organisation, has been, in no uncertain terms, appalling. The fact is that your staff -- teachers, support and administration staff -- have had to find out about every change that directly affects them through the media, not their employer.
Both Federal and State Governments have consistently talked about how schools are so important to the fabric of society yet we don’t treat the people working in them with enough respect to actually advise them on what is happening.
We turned ourselves inside out to accommodate and adapt to all of the changes occurring based on the phased return that was released because we at least had a way forward; we had a plan that towards which we could work, and then just like that, it all changed, again, but this time it wasn’t due to the global pandemic.
Don’t worry though, staff working in schools are resilient and we will once again adapt to what is happening, but understand this --q your staff matter. We’re not simply just a number (although we feel like it). The mental health of your staff matters (although we feel like this is never taken into consideration). We will not forget the way we have been treated through this ordeal, the lack of respect that is so overwhelming apparent and the way that our leaders have forgotten us in such an important conversation.
From a teacher holding on by a thread.
Yahoo Lifestyle has contacted the Department of Education for comment.
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