The teaching profession has been making headlines of late – for all the wrong reasons.
Schools around the country are facing unprecedented teacher shortages due to a perfect storm of low completion rates of teacher degrees and early-career teachers dropping out of the profession en-masse.
In 2020 a staggering one in six early career teachers left the profession after just one year, and studies show that 40% of young teachers will abandon their careers within five years.
It’s a pretty heartbreaking thought considering the incredible impact teachers can have on young people.
We surveyed thousands of school students for our After the ATAR III report, and here’s what some had to say about how teachers inspire and support them as they navigate some of the most challenging formative years of their lives.
“There were the few teachers who actually cared and were passionate about the stuff they were teaching,” a 17-year-old female from Victoria said.
“The energy that exuded from them energised and convinced us that it was worth listening and learning about.”
A 19-year-old from Tasmania told us how all the teachers she was fortunate enough to have were extremely passionate about the subjects they taught.
“This was reflected in their everyday teaching in the classroom and in one-on-one chats,” she said.
“Being surrounded not only by people passionate about their job but also incredibly motivated to guide students into discovering their own passions sets an example and demonstrates how work can be meaningful and enjoyable if it is something an individual truly feels an affinity for.”
A 19-year-old from Queensland told us how his drama teacher changed the course of his life.
“I can say with near certainty that when my drama teacher handed me ‘All My Sons’ and ‘Blackrock’, told me ‘read them by the end of the week’ and ‘hey I think you should be an actor’, I knew then and there I should be following this,” he said.
“She believed in me, I needed that.”
An 18-year-old from Queensland also said how her teacher had given her the boost she needed to forge a career in science.
“My absolutely incredible chemistry teacher inspired me with her amazing and very infectious enthusiasm for the subject,” she said.
“I’m now just about to embark on a chemistry degree with a plan to go into research, and she’s almost as excited as I am for it.”
And one more here from an 18-year-old male in NSW.
“My favourite English teacher sat down with me one time when we were rehearsing our speeches,” he said.
“She was the only teacher I ever had who had a serious conversation about my potential. She told me that I should aim high because she thought that I could.
“We started talking about challenging university degrees like medicine and health-related careers. From that day on, I decided that I was going to try my hardest to get into medicine.
“I went from a C student in her class to an A+ student in the matter of one year. I still owe all my motivation to that initial spark. She pointed me in the direction that I now am exceedingly passionate about.”
Too often these expressions of gratitude from students go unheard of by teachers as they leave school behind in the rear-vision mirror. But make no mistake, their efforts don’t go unnoticed.
We hope this serves as a reminder about why you would want to be a teacher today.