So 2015 is going to be a new beginning for a lot of reasons, some of which I’ll write about and some of which I am not going to. One of the biggest is that I’ll no longer be in the classroom: instead, I’ll be working as a union organiser for the Independent Education Union, based in Parramatta.
It’s a big change, and I must admit that I’m more than a little bit nervous about it. For the last decade and a half, for better or worse, I’ve been a teacher. I like to think that I’ve been a pretty good one, and I’ve certainly loved some of the things that I’ve done, but measuring the impact is not easy, regardless of what governmetns will tell you. There are no more lessons to prepare. No more extracurricular clubs to run. No more tests to grade, teachers to counsel or initiatives to follow. No more compliance reviews. No more frustrated parents or sulky children. And no more joyful, talented children, either.
Instead, I’m entering the professional world. It’s not like I’ve always been a teacher – I’ve done other things, but nothing like this before. But I’ve been working towards this for a while. Since I started teaching, I’ve been a member of the union. I believe in unions – not that that puts me in a minority, these days: the Pope, Barak Obama and Bruce Springsteen have all come out in favour of unions recently, so that puts Tony and his rabble of a government seriously in the minority.
It’s traditional for teachers leaving the profession to write a blog post about why they’re leaving. Normally in this kind of article, teachers cite reasons like increasing workloads, implementation overload and lack of vision from districts. I’m not disagreeing with any of that – I know as well as anyone how painful it can be, and I’ve thought about leaving for that reason too. But that’s not what I’m doing this time.
Instead, I’m off to join the IEU as an organiser. Instead of being an advocate for students – which I have always felt has probably been the most important part of a teacher – I’m going to be an advocate for teachers.