Teachers doing the best they can

By: Todd Muller

Todd Talks
By Todd Muller

The great privilege of this job is the diversity of local people that you get to meet and listen to in any given day.

Over recent times I have listened quietly to the stories of our primary school teachers. Hushed and measured reflections over a cup of tea in the staffroom, often emotion bubbling close to the surface, only held back by professional pride.

They share their day-to-day challenges of the demands of trying their best for their kids in classrooms few of us adults would recognise.

Te Puna School, in the late 1970’s, brings back memories of bullrush, kicks over the goals posts, and Mrs Roan’s after lunch reading, taking me and the rest of our class into a wonder world of creative imagination.

I cannot recall one single behavioural challenge, although no doubt we had our moments. As for my parents, they met the teacher formally to discuss me once a year.

40 years on, we have classrooms across our city packed full with challenges. Most will have a number of acute behavioural issues. Every class has kids with some anxiety. There is limited-to-no resources to help children that need close to full-time support to bend their personal arc towards the light, mixed with kids that cruise who could be stretched and those unsure, who can be turned on to learning for the rest of their life.

A remarkable crucible of New Zealand potential and damage, often in the same kids. This is overlaid with frequent parental interference, and a compliance load that, to this layman, has long moved beyond the rational.

They are giving the best of themselves in an environment that few would choose if aware of what they are walking into. These stories have had a profound effect on me. I raise it not to score political points. What I have heard goes beyond any shallow one liner and it needs to be fixed and the solution supported by successive Governments. In the meantime, can you thank them. A little respect can go a long way.