Why They Leave

There has been more exposure in the last week, in the broad media, regarding the increasingly high numbers of teachers leaving teaching. One such article suggested that 53% of trained teachers are no longer working in the field. They always focus on the young teachers. Older teachers are leaving or taking extended periods of leave too. Like me. 

The reporters state that there is not enough data about why teachers aren’t teaching. I scoff at this. The Department has our details. Call them. Or continue reading …

When I decided to be a teacher, I felt the calling. I was only 5 so I couldn’t articulate why, I just knew teaching was what I was meant to do. Initially I wanted to be a primary school teacher but by the time I was seventeen, I had moved into a calling for high school teaching. I loved English, so high school English became the dream.

My home experiences during my adolescence also impacted this change. After my parents divorced when I was in Year 8, and fighting in both homes became the norm, culminating in me moving between my mum and my dad’s houses, and ultimately living in a caravan in a friend’s backyard for a few months after receiving the beating of a lifetime, I didn’t want any child to feel as alone as I had during my high school years. I vowed that whilstever I was in a school, kids would have an adult they could turn to for support, whether I taught them or not. For me, it was the responsibility of the adults to protect the children. 

When I was in my first year of teaching, 1993, I was interviewed by a local newspaper. They asked why I wanted to teach. My response was simple, “To change the world.” 

Over time this idealism has tempered itself. I still want to change the world, and believe education is vital in this, but have settled for changing the children’s lives I teach so that they are empowered and enabled to change the world. 

So, why am I on leave, initially hoping to leave teaching (but not so much today because I miss it from my core)? 

Because teaching is run by bureaucrats and politicians who have absolutely no idea about what teaching is, and why teachers teach. 

As a result, the art of teaching has been seriously compromised. 

Administration duties have taken over from the magic of programming, preparing lessons and units, and actually teaching. Stupid behaviour and clothing restrictions have been mandated to ensure that teachers are “professional” (pfft, please, professionalism is an attitude not an appearance). 

Data collection, which only serves to demoralise teachers and students, and takes away from the magic of teaching by taking time from preparing resources, has become the most recent catch cry; let’s take time from teachers teaching to collect data do that the results for kids stay low. 

Teachers, young and old, to stay on top of everything that is required, lose the precious work-life balance, lose time with their families, lose time to exercise, lose time full stop, and begin to resent the career they so nobly entered. 

Not only that, but teachers are no longer respected by society. Parents think nothing of abusing teachers, of telling them how to do their job, and of enabling their child’s poor behaviour choices to continue. All the while, belittling the teacher’s knowledge of children and pedagogy. The media, politicians, parents, the average person on the steeet, all think they know better than the people at the chalk face. I shake my head. 

And then, there is no protection for the teachers who find themselves facing an investigation, or accusations of misconduct, or being bullied by other teachers/deputy principals/principals/students, because the child comes first. And whilst they should, it shouldn’t always be at the expense of diligent teachers who are doing the best they can under hopeless circumstances most of the time. 

As a classroom teacher, throughout the last twenty four years, I can’t tell you how many mandatory referrals I have made to principals with students who have suffered some type of heinous abuse. I can tell you how many times the system has supported my welfare needs at these times. Nil. We are expected to listen to the crimes of others, deal with the results of post traumatic stress in our kids, refer them so that the system can continue to let the kids down because the system is under resourced and under funded, WITH NO SUPPORT for us. 

At the end of the year before last, I faced an excruciating decision: immediately refer alleged misconduct of another staff member possibly setting the kids up for reprisals without ongoing support, or protect the welfare of myself and the kids and build resilience so we could cope with the fallout. I waited to refer, I did refer, but not straight away. 

Investigation. 

I could cop that except that it was months of not knowing before I found out why I was under investigation, and then more months before I had a chance to respond, and then because other people lied in their reports and the investigators did not ask me for evidence (dodgy investigation at best), I was labelled as a self-serving liar.

Teachers are leaving because it is not the profession it once was, and because they are not protected from ever increasing workload, attacks from every angle, and dodgy investigations. Because they receive no support to do their job. Because society is disconnected and kids embody this disconnection and teachers deal with the impact of this every day. Because the system doesn’t cater for changes in the way kids learn in the 21st century. 

Because it is just too hard … 

and no one cares. 

Crisis of Confidence

I finished last year on such a high. My Indian experience truly transformed my life by empowering me to integrate the different aspects of self and identity roles. I was unable to return home and not make significant change. This was a process. By following the signs and saying yes to different opportunities, I finally opted to take leave from permanent full time teaching this year. A massive decision. My identity as a teacher has sustained me for many years. 

During the last four weeks, my identity labeling has shifted. I am now considering myself as more than a high school English teacher. And man, that is terrifying. 

But today, interestingly and ironically, Mike Baird has resigned as Premier of my home state, New South Wales. He has cited the necessity to spend more time with his family as his main reason. I hope there isn’t a scandal waiting in the wings because his reason has impressed me. 

As a people, we seem to have surrendered the important things in life for work, addiction, fear. It doesn’t seem that many of us are living our best and most authentic lives. Most people I speak to feel a yearning, irrespective of how small, for something different. And most of us use fear as a reason for not seeking it. 

I am feeling that fear every day. I am so worried that I won’t have enough money for all of my adventures, then not enough time for everything I want to achieve. Bloody fear. It won’t stop me from walking this path. I have paid many deposits for a variety of travels and have paid in full my flights to Perth and Minnesota/Las Vegas. I will write my book and I will empower my business to do what it needs to do, but I am scared. 

Today I pulled out a Butterfly Affirmation Card and I giggled: 


I have faith that all will be well and that I am exactly where I am meant to be. I just want to acknowledge out loud that it isn’t easy. I am hoping that disclosing it will calm my mind and pacify my fear. 

You have to laugh. 

Mike Baird answered questions at the end of his resignation speech. The journalists attacked him, expectedly. Why did you promise to continue as recently as December last year? When did you make this decision? Where were you? Why are you doing this? 

It takes courage to stand against expectation, to walk a different path, your own organic path, to put yourself first, to create a new reality for your life, but I think it costs the soul more if you don’t. 

Kudos to Mike Baird today, for his resignation has reminded me that my choices are right for me. As a result, this upcoming year of transition, transformation, and discovery will continue to permit growth, and enable me to live fully and authentically. 

Scared but infinitely blessed. 

đŸ™đŸ»

Today in Notes 

Sometimes …

Just being here is amazing. 

Smell of smoke combined with exhaust slightly. Warmth of the sun on the skin; cool without the sun. A crispness. Blue sky. Jagged outcrops, pine covered hills. Foreign tongue, mostly male. 

Dressed up driver – contrast to yesterday. Big broad smile. 

Birds gliding. 

Little English. I’ve had breakfast. They are all confused. Trying to please. Completely unnecessary – I’m sold on this place. Toilet paper in a bin. Heating up the water. Mould everywhere. Construction sounds. Birds. A breeze that has no touch on the skin. Seen in the flags fluttering. 

Always, dogs barking, many dogs. At what? At whom? 

Madam. No Tina. When did I become this old? A tickle in the throat, sometimes escaping into a dry cough.

Four old Tibetan women walking, laughing broadly. Contagious. Freedom of spirit. Colour. Acceptance? Western interpretations with western bias. 

Dalai Lama’s Temple. Serene. Incense. Injustice of Tibet. Tenth Panchen Lama still missing. Tribute to fallen, to sacrificed. Tourists loud – request for silence dismissed. Reverence for those praying. 

Tibetan community. No words. 

Monastery. There is a different way to live. I think the west has its wrong. We have sacrificed our spirituality for materialism. Did we ever have spirituality? Or only dogma? We have lost the simplicity in spirituality. The ritual. The meaning. I feel it’s loss here. 

Signs on the roadsides:

Fast drive could be your last drive

Slow drive jolly drive 

Drive carefully avoid accidents 

Every accident is an act of negligence 

Drive slow and enjoy the scenery; drive fast and join the scenery

Mountains are pleasure if you drive in leisure

Water Temple: not knowing what to do, looked at- only westerner, offerings made, hair, selfies, Facebook and instagram, koalas (thanks Mel), shoe protectors, ringing of bell? Touch feet –> head and heart on own self, more monkeys 

Note: cricket stadium rules 😂

St John of God’s Church – Anglican not catholic, gothic architecture, prefer the temples. 


A Divine Closing

Our time together has ended. Mel and I are on the plane to Delhi, where I will stay overnight before heading to Dharamsala, and Mel will continue home. There have been more than a few tears. And there will be more. 

I packed last night so that I wouldn’t feel the pressure of having to this morning. I relaxed through breakfast with Lynn, Michelle, Jade and Mel; my original tribe excepting Elizabeth. Bliss. 

I picked up my dress and shawl. Beautiful. Even though the shawl had to be sent back to the tailor for cutting and overlocking. 

Then to our last group session, our closing of the retreat. I am misting up just writing that. This time last week we did not know each other. Now, bonds have been forged that will withstand physical limitations and limited communication, if any. Our hearts have blended and entwined, locked together in memory of this transformational and magical week.

The most bizarre thing, which will possibly sound wanky, is that those we connected with, we connected with at a very deep level. And very quickly. There is an easiness in our contact, our love for one another, and our ability to communicate it. It is very much a soul blessing and a soul kiss. 

The energy in the ritual of closing as we retrieved our items from the altar grew larger. When I retrieved my item, a pendant, it was pulsing and hot. My hands grew hot just holding it. And that heat coursed through my entire body shooting out into the room and into the earth, far below us. Complete and unconditional love and acceptance. 

Namaste đŸ™đŸ»

Hugs of goodbye; tight and enduring. 

And, a mad rush for the airport. And time stops temporarily. Something happens in airports. Waiting seems to force time to stop so that you are shocked when all of a sudden it is 2 o’clock. 

My sprained ankle is up. There is no one next to me. The snack has been had. Water consumed. Bladder filling. 

Recommendation: do not use the toilets at Varanasi Airport. Ooh, and if you are female, account for extra time going through the security checkpoints. 

Why, you ask. Because women’s needs fall second to the needs of men here. 

There is no judgement from me. We are each of us on our journey, as is each culture and country. India has achieved some things so much better than Australia, and the rights of women have progressed from what they once were, but India is still very much a patriarchy. So, leave extra time for security clearance. 

Suffragette

We have the right and responsibility to vote. But, I am not sure we have equality. 

We are still shackled by patriarchy. 

We must look a certain way or we are dismissed. 

We must behave a certain way or we are beaten, slut shamed, dismissed. 

We must still do as we are told, all under the illusion/delusion of freedom. 

I don’t think we were meant to stop fighting. But we did. We believed we had achieved equality and we dropped the fight. As a result, society is moving backwards. 

Young girls are sexually violated; the toys of men who make no attempt to control their animal urges. Young boys, too, violated to be controlled; the way to ensure the gender stereotypes.

Young women are raped, controlled, beaten; subjected to humiliation and degradation through music video clips and foul lyrics, their intelligence undermined by the social need to belong by not rocking the boat. Treated as sexual exploits by men who do not know themselves, and make no attempt to resolve their own inadequacies. 

Older women are ignored, dismissed, non-existent, unless they are sexually desirable. Only then are they seen, but only as a sexual toy, to serve the pleasure of men. 

We had a female PM. Mainstream media ridiculed her, reduced her, denied her. She was “barren”, “unmarried” and “big bottomed”. Her partner was demeaned, his masculinity questioned. The people bought into this rubbish. She was never judged by her merits, just her appearance and lack of sexual desirability. 

Teenage girls believe they must look a certain way, behave a certain way, think (or not think) a certain way, to be desirable, to be accepted, to be okay. 

To succeed. 

As what. Hmmm. 

We still have to fight harder to be heard and to be taken seriously. Society functions following male rules, male justice, male reasoning. Facebook refuses to block users that demean women with a voice. Social media perpetuates the mysogynistic fabric of our society. 

We have forgotten the women who came before us, those who started the fight for equality, and as a result, we have compromised their success. 

Feminist has become a dirty word and women shy away from describing themselves as one. 

Devastating. 

There is nothing wrong or dirty or less than in being a female. Nothing wrong at all. 

Institutions That Bind 

It’s been a while. The power of the institution has eclipsed me and I have felt bound. I am currently loosening the ties. 

However, yesterday a sportsperson has found themselves in a world of trouble for associating with an ex footballer, now known for their membership in a bikie gang and facing prosecution for crime. The sportsperson hasn’t commented at this point. What could they possibly say?

I’ve been told that I’m not allowed to choose my own friends even though I’m an adult. Or, perceptions are more important than reality or truth. Or, because of my community profile I’m not a person permitted the same freedoms as others. 

I don’t know the context of their relationship. I also don’t care, as long as no one is being directly hurt by it. If Haynes’ friend is a criminal, well, our justice system will take care of that. 

I do not understand why the institution of public scrutiny is given the power it has. It is absolutely ridiculous. People should be permitted to live their own lives, free from institutional intrusion, as long as they are not compromising the rights of others. This higher level of accountability and scrutiny is absolutely ludicrous. 

The binds of the institution likewise. 

For most of this year (seven months almost), I have felt bound. A circumstance I find myself in has changed me. It has instructed me to be someone I am not. It has forced me to question every choice that I have ever made. I do not walk this earth freely as a result. And I am filled with irrational fear and anxiety. 

And that is attracting like energy. I find myself feeling shame, feeling guilt, feeling fear. I second guess almost every decision, choice, action. I have silenced and castrated myself. Not a healthy way to live. 

But, the institutions of our society have power. It isn’t real power. I still have free will. Fear represses the urge to manifest it. 

I think it is similar to how victims/survivors of bullying, abuse, violence, addiction feel. That loss of freedom and trust in the self. 

I am moving through this. My core essence is still with me. The witch is trusting that magick will win. After all, persecution is not new here. This is not the first time she has felt silenced. But, this will be the last time. 

Some of our institutions have passed their usefulness. In this day and age, in this western world, we can choose freedom. It just means sacrifice. I am now preparing myself for that. 

New paths await. My soul is singing to soar. I will not disappoint it. 

Grave Concerns 

The notion of democracy is really being challenged in the UK, Australia and the US in recent days. Such insanity. 

Donald Trump supporters proudly walking the streets with massive weapons strapped to their bodies. Yes, it is their constitutional right to do so, but what sort of idiot would show so little sensitivity and compassion to the context in their own country at the moment and do so. It achieves nothing. 

In Australia, we have politicians, democratically elected, preaching hate and inciting hate against others. And justifying their right to be ignorant because we live in a democracy. 

And then, there’s Brexit. 

Yes, in a democracy we have certain rights. Predominantly, voting in our elected officials. 

To be a responsible citizen though, surely we also have the responsibility to be informed and to educate ourselves, and as an elected representative, surely this responsibility is even more important. 

We have the right to express opinions, but for fuck’s sake make sure they are informed and not coming from fear, ignorance or hate. 

And yes, in the US, unbelievably and unconscionably, citizens have the right to carry arms, but engage your brain and think about others before you exercise that right. Show some responsible and compassionate thinking first. 

What a disgrace this world has become. 

What a horrible place we are leaving for future generations.

Individuals, organisations, governments, so selfish that the aim has become, solely personal gain. 

What a travesty! And where the fuck are our superheroes? 

Apologies for the language but this is my blog and I am frustrated with this world and our collective apathy to do and to be right. 

I blame George Orwell. 

Dear Steve …

In the interests of full disclosure, there isn’t much that you say that I ever agree with. However, you have been on one of my favourite shows The Project for a long time and as a result I respect you. I definitely respect your right to express your opinions. 

Again, in the interests of full disclosure, I also don’t necessarily agree with everything that Van Badham says, or the way that she says it; however, I also respect her right to say it. 

I am also a feminist. I am not anti-male and I don’t hate men. I believe that historically there have been significant inequalities in opportunity for and treatment of women. I believe that some of these conditions still exist today. And not just for women, but for minority groups too. 

As an intelligent person, I have tried to educate myself. One of the areas that I have educated myself in is the history of the treatment of women with regards to mental health and autonomy. 

To call a woman hysterical, as Waleed pointed out to you, is historically loaded and associated with the dumbing down and silencing of women; taking away a person’s right to autonomy and self-expression. Historically, women were burned at the stake, beaten, raped, publicly shamed, shocked, drugged, im prisoner, stoned, and killed for fighting against the labels of woman and hysterical

Van was not hysterical. I thought she was well reasoned and calm. I think that you were concerned that she had grouped you in a behaviour that you would not partake in; this is not how what she said came across to the audience. 

Unfortunately, your response was a response typical of many people when their ego is feeling attacked. You came out swinging. And your blows supported the argument she was making and worked against what you were trying to convey. 

You attempted to silence Van, consciously or subconsciously, by talking over the top of her, not letting her finish what she was saying, and ultimately, by calling her hysterical. You attempted to dominate and let your ego do the thinking. 

Van did not say that men couldn’t feel as deeply as women about issues around Donestic Violence. She wasn’t attacking you personally. She did attack your friends. And as you acknowledge, their behaviour was highly inappropriate. And she did refer to those men as your friends as you had

Please, rewatch the footage in full. With a clear head. Research hysteria in the context of women. Understand that your response towards Van, a response that was demeaning in context, is not right and was your responsibility. 

Please don’t continue to blame Van for your response. Own your own behaviour and choices; convey your own evolution. 

Using the description of a woman as hysterical or aggressive does nothing to support decreasing the rates of DV in Australia. Instead it fuels mysogynistic attitudes towards women and fuels the cyber bullying strong women are subjected to hourly in this country. And that just isn’t right. Nor is it something I think you would like to be known for. 

Cheers, 

Tina 

PS. If you want to see the incident my letter refers to watch Q&A from Monday 11.7.16 on the ABC and then The Project’s interview with Steve Price tonight (12.7.16). Form your own opinion. 

Raised To Fight 

We all know that I love aging. I say it often enough. I love the wisdom that comes with lived and processed experience. However, something we lose as we age is our ability to believe in a better world that we are responsible for fighting for

When I was younger, if I saw something wrong, I’d fight. Immediately. No regard for the consequences for myself. I’d just stand up. Alone. And fight. 

These days I’m more reticent. More fearful. 

When I was younger, I possessed a blind faith that if I was fighting the good fight, everything would work out okay. These days, that faith is gone. 

My dad reminded me this morning that when I was five, every time I was asked what I wanted to be, I would say, “A teacher.” For years, this was my response. I flirted with other professions from time to time, but always came back to teaching. 

As I grew older, I wanted to only ever be a public school teacher, and from there, only in ‘disadvantaged’ communities. My belief is that all children deserve quality teachers in front of them. 

I am a quality teacher. 

I can finally say that I believe that I am one of the very best quality teachers. My students inspire me to want to be better every day. I am always reflecting and always learning. Because I want to be the very best. 

Still, after all of these years. For forty years, public education has been my priority. 

And this year, well, there is a fight to be fought. 

I have mostly healed from a traumatic childhood. I have mostly healed from my journey through infertility and miscarriage. I have mostly healed from ongoing bouts of depression through my twenties and thirties. 

I say mostly because you never know when a trigger can be pulled. But I am mostly happy, content, fulfilled, passionate, committed, evolved. And I am strong. And my whole life has prepared me for this fight. 

But I am scared. And so I sit, waiting for signs. That’s what I tell myself. I think I’m really waiting for courage. 

Twenty seconds … 

Dear Ombudsman, Premier, Minister, MP, and the list goes on … 

Twenty seconds … 

Finding Courage Within 

It’s so bizarre. My whole life I’ve had battles to fight. Childhood trauma, gaining permanent employment, being the teacher I want to be, lifestyle choices, infertility, work issues. There has always been something. 

You would think I’d be a fierce warrior by now – no fear, just go into battle and do my best. But, no. Fear still comes first. Overcoming fear may be becoming a faster process but it is still a process, and a process to be reckoned with. 

I think even at my strongest points there has been an underlying base of fear within me. I guess that might be healthy, and might stop me from being unaware of consequences and impact. 

It’s so much easier to give advice to others. Lol. 

I woke up this morning and said, “Tina, if someone was in your position and they asked for your advice, what would you say to them?” 

And my answer was unsurprising. 

Take control. Write a letter. Tell your truth. 

And so, now I am lying on the lounge, about to put a load of washing out, if I can move, drafting the letter in my head, and fighting the fear of the first step. 

I will write the letter. 

Just being human … Definitely feeling more myself.