"I have a girl in my class who cut her hair last week and sold, reaching almost $ 3,000 for a foundation for children with cancer. This is huge. It has also a little boy in my class who earlier this year created a fundraising program, he got $ 400 to help victims of a cyclone. So I think those kids you can inspire are a great hope. I want my children say: 'I can make a difference in the world'.
I have the most wonderful job in the world because I can inspire people to do great things and that, to me, is doing a wonderful thing.
I loved school, was a good student, liked to learn, enjoyed being in school, liked my friends and my teachers. I always tried my best to be top of the class. I had four teachers I remember: two in elementary school, they were wonderful, kind and careful. One on Junior High that had such a pratical way, but he saw things differently and caused us to question, making me see the world differently. And a teacher in high school who challenged us constantly, always pushing us to our limits. Whenerver we thought we had done our bests, he gave us a metaphorical 'kick' and you would be further ahead. They changed my view in why I wanted to be a teacher, it was not because of a class full of students and an apple on my desk. They showed me that the world is a big place and opened my eyes to it.
I think I ended up imitating a bit of each of them. I always try to lead my students when they conquer things, questioning what else can they do. I think I have a good sense of humor as they had, I try to make the grade to be fun. I am teaching my students to be critical and to think about things differently.
The educational system in New Zealand is going through many changes in recent years. There is, politically, a Liberal push to privatization, standards and national targets. We are judging our students, comparing them to each other. Creating expectations of where they should be after a certain time at school. And that's a change, definitely.
But we teachers have strong unions, most teachers are members, so we try to raise our voices, but often, especially at this moment, things seem to be happening to us and not with us. It's sad, I wonder how doctors receive instructions should do their jobs without being able to say anything about it. But that happens in education. I think that in schools there is a very collegial atmosphere, a lot of collaboration, many conversations and sharing ideas, we have support from colleagues. I feel supported by the group of teachers in my class, I feel this support. Even the newest teachers. I'm in this school for only three years, and I feel very welcome. I think this collegial atmosphere helps a lot. We do many things together and try to support each other. In this school, especially, we shared our plans.
For my students, I expect the world. I hope they're amazing. I expect them to be problem solvers. I expect them to challenge, to question and ask. I hope they do not accept things at first. I hope they make a difference in the world and want to make a difference. I expect everything.
About us teachers, I would say there are two kinds of vision. I think there are a lot of people who think that teachers are glorified babysitters, who spend the day playing with children and have three months of holidays a year, and that don't really do much at all appart from complaining about how hard our job is. I also think that there are people who know teachers or that have teachers in the family and understand that we are really making a difference. The children in my class today are the children who will be your doctor, and your nurse, and your dentist, and the person that fixes your car or your toilet. I mean, they are human beings, they are people, and it is my job to educate them, to teach them how to think. So I have a massive responsibility to mold and shape them as little people, that is huge.
It is a huge responsibility and that is why I consider to be a teacher as one of the most stressful jobs in the world, because the weight of this responsibility is massive. These are the children that will grow up and change our future and it is my job to teach them. It makes us sad to know that many people do not value teachers and don't take the effort to know everything that this profession entails, but I still think that being a teacher is a valued profession and reasonably respected by society. I think the political nature of teaching and some political elements can make all be harder, creating many negative reviews. But you have to let these things go. There are many other professions that go through the same problems.
Teachers, do not lose your passion! What we do is wonderful and our children are wonderful! We are making a difference. No matter what country, what the political system. That's amazing. Do not stop!"