The plight of first-year teachers

I ran into 2 former students yesterday on campus, who told me about their life as a first-year teacher, or more precisely, their lack of a life other than working. Every day, it’s back-to-back lessons, and then meeting after meeting, and then piles of marking to catch up with at home, not to mention dealing with ‘enquiries’ from parents, training students for competitions, and preparing special school functions … They admit that lesson planning keeps staying on the back burner, because it is not the most ‘urgent’ item on their immediate agenda.
Yet, when I asked them whether all this was sapping their energy to teach, and their determination to be a good teacher, their answer was an immediate, resounding, no.
I couldn’t help letting out a sigh of lamentation. Many people enter teaching because they want to do something meaningful to students, and useful to society. Yet, the crushing workload, and the actual duty list, keep eating away their drive and spirit. When will administrators and policymakers remember the true meaning of education, and redesign school in such a way that will enable teachers to do meaningful work, and students to receive meaningful education?

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