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Here's What Teachers Do When They're Not 'Lesson Planning'

Camps, night school, parent interviews, formals, discos, graduations, Saturday sports. The list goes on.

16/01/2017 12:01 PM AEDT | Updated 16/01/2017 12:01 PM AEDT
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Why have they changed the curriculum again?

Andrew Laming has angered me. I realise that this may fail to rouse any sense of dread in him, given that we've never met and I am but a humble educator. But his questioning about teachers being back at work this week has left me incensed.

The government MP posted on Facebook last Tuesday, asking: "Are teachers back at work this week, or are they 'lesson planning' from home? Let me know exactly." And boy did we let him know exactly. Over 220 unhappy replies had been posted in the afternoon, and who knows how many more were added before the initial post was deleted.

Laming's baiting shows a clear lack of understanding about what teachers do. His use of inverted commas around the phrase 'lesson planning' suggests that he either doesn't think this is a real thing, or that his grasp on this profession is so limited that he needs to use a catch-all phrase to cover his ignorance. But I'm here to help.

Teachers aren't just in front of a class, but are also in the playground, sitting next to the struggling student and finding new ways to challenge high achievers.

Before Laming criticises, he should investigate. Appreciate that teachers aren't just in front of a class, but are also in the playground, sitting next to the struggling student and finding new ways to challenge high achievers. They're often the first people students turn to in times of need. Even in Australia, the issues faced by young people can be heartbreaking.

I marvel at primary school teachers who also provide guidance concerning bodily functions. Teachers take on prac students, passing on their knowledge, and face routine criticism in the media. We write units to keep up to date with an ever-changing curriculum (less than 10 years after the initial Australian Curriculum, we're already up to version 8.3) and we attend camps, night school, parent interviews, formals, discos, graduations and Saturday sports. No day is ever the same.

To be honest, I doubt that I have an exhaustive understanding of Laming's role as an MP, despite being nerdy enough to enjoy question time, but at the very least I refrain from having a go at him without provocation. I'm sure that we could all give a general summary: represent constituents, scrutinise bills, make speeches... but there are no doubt myriad other duties.

It seems to this humble teacher that unless we spend a day (probably more) in someone's shoes, we won't know about everything that goes into being a [insert job here]. I and countless others have offered to host legislators in our classrooms whenever they'd like, although, to be fair, these offers were more exclaimed at the TV during morning show interviews than written formally.

If only we could take a little bit of time to think before we pass judgement on these necessary individuals and professions.

The same applies to virtually every other role in our society. Young children dream of being police officers, without considering that along with the excitement, this will one day lead them to standing in the middle of an intersection directing traffic. We see scientists in laboratories on the news, thoroughly engrossed in transferring pink liquid between test tubes, but who knows what they do for the rest of the day? I know it's fantastically important, and I'm not advocating stopping them from going about their business, but it's not my field of expertise.

Two of my aunts once told me that they couldn't imagine themselves doing my job. They're nurses. The feeling and admiration was mutual.

If only we could take a little bit of time to think before we pass judgement on these necessary individuals and professions. I solemnly swear that I will consider the rubbish that people go through before suggesting that they're lazy, or should be out of a job. I hope Andrew Laming will do the same.

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