I feel very fortunate to be involved in a leadership program working towards ending educational disadvantage in Australian communities. The aim of the program is to inspire, equip and support teachers to lead positive change in their schools and communities. I highly recommend checking the program out and connecting with the Changemakers team; Dave and Aaron.
Since beginning the program 4 months ago, I have struggled to find clarity around what it is I hope to change. We were asked to identify what we find unacceptable in our teaching context. I found it easy to answer this when phrased as “what keeps you up at night?”. Below are some of my initial thoughts:
- It is unacceptable that students are disengaged from and uncommitted to education – that students don’t love learning
- It is unacceptable that year 4 students cannot read or write in Pitjantjatjara (their own, 1st language) or in English
- It is unacceptable that students behaviour significantly impacts on each others opportunities and ability to learn
- It is unacceptable that there is minimal family involvement, presence and support in the school
- It is unacceptable that the basic needs of some students are not being met at home
From this point, I identified an end goal, what it is I wish for. Thankfully, four awesome educators from my school and our neighbouring school are also involved in this program so we were able to collaboratively discuss, debate and define an end goal together.
I then thought about what, in my opinion and experience, needs to happen to reach this point. I have outlined these ideas below. Still big ideas that need more thought, input, discussion and reflection. But I wanted to put it out there as my initial thought processes so that I can see how they progress over time.
I do realise that achievement of these goals will be impacted by a multitude of factors, many of which are completely out of my control as an educator. These factors are consistent across many low socio-economic environments and include, from my observations, family and cultural obligations, generational unemployment and welfare dependency resulting in minimal motivation to work or aspire to a positive future, substance abuse, domestic violence, poor health, child neglect, abuse and poverty. It would be easy to succumb to these real challenges and at times, it takes every ounce of energy we have as educators in challenging contexts to keep going.
But wanting to see my students experience a future where they have fair and equal access to anything they want in the world, despite the challenges they face, is what inspires me to continue working towards creating positive change for my students and their families to come.