Sacha Spurrier has lit up Facebook this week. In an open letter to David Seymour, this first year teacher shuts down why pay performance cannot be measured.
Dear Mr Seymour,
I would like to invite you to take a small glimpse into my world and the world of my fellow teachers across New Zealand.
First of all, yes, I called you a twat, and I apologise for that personal attack. However, you attacked something that is very, very personal to me and my colleagues around the country. The massive amount of negative comments disagreeing with your ill-informed ideology and judgments surely speaks volumes. Your reply to me that I am probably “one of the ones who wouldn’t do too well under ACT’s policy” was outright wrong.
I work hard. Tremendously hard, just like other teachers everywhere in New Zealand. I spend 10 to 12 hours a day at school, to go home and spend another couple of hours working. And then there are the “weekends” which are spent at school or at home working. Not to mention our “holidays”, which you are under the impression that everyone who commented on your post has too much spare time during holidays. Wrong again. I am currently at school working and have been all week. You might think I have too much spare time writing this post, but I just cannot hold myself back to protect what is so important to myself and every other teacher.
We spend hours looking for resources, making resources, planning, testing, marking, entering data, writing reports, publishing our children’s work on the walls, cleaning and organising for the following day, observing other classrooms to better our own practice, having mentors observe us in our own class and appraisals done by principals throughout the year, attending PLD (professional learning development) – which sometimes we pay for ourselves – keeping up to date with the paperwork that is required by the teachers council in order to be registered, having meetings with our staff and syndicates, collaborating and working with outside agencies for students with special educational needs, creating resources and plans for students with special educational needs, doing morning tea and lunchtime duties, communicating with family and whānau via face to face before and after school, texts, phone calls, emails and social media, conferencing with family and whānau at interviews, coaching and supporting sports teams and being involved in other extra curricular activities, spending our own money on resources for our students and classroom, providing food and comfort to those students in need, and the list goes on and on and on.
How is there ever enough time in the day? There’s not, hence the long hours at nights, weekends, and holidays and still we can’t complete everything that we would like to. What was that word you used again, accountability? I think that what we do goes further and beyond.
The high demand and level of pressure this job has can be all-consuming. No matter how drained, stressed, and overworked we are, we still turn up to school the next day with a smile on our face greeting our students with love and care. Because we care. We care about our students beyond any job description. Most nights I can’t get to sleep because I can’t stop thinking and worrying about the students in my classroom and what I am going to do for them, and the massive to-do list that waits for me the next day.
And as for your pay performance policy, it simply cannot be measured. We each have our own strengths and weaknesses, but that is perfect because how boring would schooling be if children experienced no diversity among their teachers and learning experiences? If there was some way of doing it and making it completely fair, it would include a massive amount of work for leadership on top of their already heavy workload. Not to mention a lot of drama and upset among our schools, which would damage our collegiality.
The practicing teaching criteria cover what is required to be registered; we put a great deal of work into providing evidence as to why we are fit to teach and should be in the profession. It is up to leadership within each school to make the final decision based on what we provide them and what they see in our classrooms and when we teach. If there is good leadership, there are good teachers. Good, hard-working teachers.
So no, me calling you a twat was neither a reflection of who I am as a person, a teacher, or the pay that I should receive. It was a late-night burst of frustration as you attacked thousands of us whose lifestyle, not job, is teaching. Quite literally sweat, blood, and tears go into what we do every single day.
Please do not fear for our students. We fear for them enough ourselves, and we invest our entire beings to do everything that we can for them. Don’t you think that that much responsibility (and accountability!) deserves a decent pay rise? I could spend more of my own money to resource my classroom!
A tired, hard-working, yet passionate teacher.
Source: Sacha Spurrier’s Facebook
This has been published with Sacha’s full permission.