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”Just” a Teacher – World Teachers Day 2022

”Just” a Teacher – World Teachers Day 2022

This episode is a little different – I call out the notion that you are ‘just’ a teacher.

Screw that up, throw it in the bin. Yeet it, if you will. Far out the window.

There is nothing ‘just’ about being a teacher…

The messages in todays episode from the community should convince you otherwise!

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Show Notes

From me to you, here are 100 thank yous!

From our lovely message, here is the Lowdown with Bravemumma Podcast.

And you can find Adam at Real Schools.


Emily: Hello my friends. Just before we dive in today’s episode, just a note that it is raining here in quote unquote sunny Brisbane while I’m recording this episode. So you may hear some lovely relaxing rain in the background.

Hopefully it doesn’t lull you into sleep, but it is quite loud rain at some times. So just be aware of that today. I also need to give a shout out to all of your amazing people listening in. Looking back through the statistics, the listenership just keeps growing. In fact, it’s actually doubling month on month.

And it’s just growing and reaching more places and it’s really humbling and feels so amazing to know that these stories are getting out there. So I wanna give a shout out to our international listeners. Now, obviously this podcast is Staffroom Stories of Australian Teachers because that’s where these stories are coming from.

However, I do know that they are applicable to so many teachers in other countries, and also so many non-teachers. There are so many life lessons to be learned from these stories. So I would like to give a shout out to all of the people listening, of course in Australia, g’day, but also to all of our international listeners.

Now I’m going to read down my statistics list here. So this is in order of percentage of listenership. So hello to the people from Australia, the us, the United Kingdom, Canada. Cambodia, New Zealand, South Africa, Norway, Russia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ireland, India, South Korea, Vietnam, Spain, Romania, Mexico, Bahrain, Cape Verde, Germany, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Pakistan, Singapore, Ukraine, and surprisingly, we have six people from an unknown location. So to those six people who have been listening from wherever you are listening from, because the, uh, the podcasting apps can’t tell me where you’re listening from your sneaky buggers. Thank you for listening.

This little podcast passion project of mine just keeps growing and it wouldn’t be at all possible, obviously if it weren’t for you lot listening in. So if you have time, I’d love for you to leave a review through your podcast player if it has the capability, or even just a star rating if that’s how your podcast app works. That just helps other people to find us.

All right, so onto today’s episode. So here in Australia, we celebrate World Teacher’s Day on October 28th. At least this year, the rest of the world is on earlier in October, but for some reason we like to be a bit different. So we celebrate on the 28th of October, which is at the end of the week that this episode’s going to be published.

So the story behind the staffroom door today is a tale as old as time. We don’t ever get enough thanks, do we? Every staff room or online community I have ever been in has been full of discussions about the feelings of being unappreciated, unrecognized, feeling like an invisible workhorse. We are the butt of all of society’s issues with itself. Just ask the media. We cause all of the problems we’re expected to solve all of the problems But here we are at World Teachers Day, a day of thanks, even if it’s just largely within our own community. You will see some companies, of course, doing World Teachers Day discounts, some places will do shout outs, but generally this is a self celebration for us.

So I thought we could do things a little bit different today. I do have a story that I’d like to share with you, and then towards the end of today’s episode, I’ve actually got a heap of messages for you from various parts of our community. So first I wanted to start off with a conversation that I overheard years ago, and it has stuck with me ever since.

It’s really been a bit of a thorn in my side, and I reflect on it all the time. So I was out for dinner with my husband and there was a lady sitting at a table close to ours, and I could hear parts of their conversation. And one phrase really struck me to the core. This lady said, I’m just a teacher.

She didn’t say it in a sarcastic way, as I’ve done many times when others degrade our profession. She didn’t say it in an apologetic way as I’ve done when explaining my lack of time or income. She didn’t even say it in an angry way as I have done when feeling overworked and the stress and anxiety kicks in.

She said it in a completely conversational way. That single sentence really brought me to a standstill, so much so that my husband actually commented that my face twitched. I wanted to go over to her and say so many things, but obviously I didn’t wanna intrude. She was a complete stranger having dinner out at a restaurant, but I wanted to tell her that I too am just a teacher.

I wanted to tell her that there is nothing just about being a teacher. And of course we’re not talking about, just in the context of good talking about just in the context of only. There is nothing just about being a teacher. We work so damn hard for our students. We only, according to everyone who’s not a teacher, work nine to three.

But then we also work. 7, 7 30 all the way through till five, six o’clock most days. Obviously we spend the extra time on the evenings and weekends as well. We get air quotes here, so many holidays during which we mark assessments. We rearrange seating plans, we plan lessons. Sometimes we even plan whole units of work. We catch up on our emails. We go through our behavior data. We get lunch breaks when we are not flat out, and even then they’re usually interrupted by students and colleagues asking for a multitude of things. It is very, very rare to have a lunch break where you just get to sit and have a lunch break. We’re always working. When we do get to sit and eat in peace, the conversations will, I’d say 80 to 90% of the time.

Be about our work. It’ll be about our students. It’ll be about our lessons, It’ll be about our meetings, our data, our resourcing. We are continually doing professional development to keep on top of our game to better ourselves for our students, we are constantly sifting through endless data about personalities, assessment, results, educational needs, health needs, behavioral issues, sporting abilities, previous year level results. Reading abilities, the list goes on, and that’s just to make sure that we are adapting our lessons and our own teaching styles in an appropriate way for the students that are in front of us.

We are a bit chameleonlike in that we are changing our personalities on the fly, as necessitated by the mood of our 20 to 35 ish young people that are in class that lesson. Those personalities and the moods could be a complete 180 on what was happening in the previous lesson or the previous day. We are pretending to care about minor issues, like, Oh, miss, he keeps looking at me, or we are pretending to care not quite as much about larger ones. Like acting nonchalant about some conversations because otherwise the students shut down. Or perhaps they’re disclosing something that is going on in their life that’s a bit traumatic and we have to, for the moment, almost brush it aside because now is not the time and place.

So we are adapting our outward show of care level based on the situation at hand. We are the ones who are mentally, physically, and worst of all, emotionally burnt out by the end of the term, but we still keep it going so that the students can get an great education. Sometimes we are the only responsible adults in the student’s lives.

Sometimes we are the only ones who will stop and listen to what they have to say, answer their questions. Read through their written work with any form of genuine interest. Sometimes we are the only ones who ask them how their day has been, what their favorite show is, what they dream of doing when they finish school, and make sure that they have something to eat at lunch.

Sometimes we are the only source of truthful, nonjudgmental, and helpful information that they might be getting outside of the internet. Sometimes we are the only adults in their lives who know how to push aside our own emotions, pretend to be in a good mood for them when they need it or not take out our frustration on them.

Sometimes we are the only ones who will sit them down with their group of friends to discuss friendship issues, or deal with bullying issues, or comfort them through a personal crisis. Sometimes we are the only ones who teach them how to deal with their emotion. How to be patient and caring, how to accept rejection and being told no.

We are the ones who are teaching the next generation how to deal with the world at large. As more and more families move into a every parent working situation, that’s resulting in, and this is an unfortunate truth of our society, there is no judgment behind this comment at all because I myself am in a duel working full-time parent household, but the more time that us parents are spending working, the less time the children are having with that familial

care at home. And traditionally that type of care is where a lot of, you know, emotional regulation would happen. A lot of calming at the end of the day. A lot of social emotional skills and intrinsic motivation, all that sort of thing used to be taught at home because there were parents there who were able to do that.

Now, with the way that our society is moving and, you know, everybody needs to work and that’s everybody. It is falling on us as teachers to fill a lot of those gaps. And this again, is no judgment on the parents. It’s just a reality of the time that we are in. So for us teachers, we are raising these children, especially if you work as a primary school teacher. You may see the students in front of you for more waking hours than their parents see them at home during the week So we are, we are raising them. We’re we’re teaching them about the world. We are teaching them about how to be a good human. We’re also, of course, on the academic side, teaching them how to learn, how to think about their actions and words and yes, even how to do stupid maths equations that they might never use again.

We are shaping the next generation for our world, and we’re also shaping the world for the next generation.

All of the doctors, lawyers, carpenters, fry cooks, cleaners, astronauts, makeup artists, stock counters, changing room attendance, chemists, film directors, they all come through our hands and we shape them. We help them some less than others. Sure. But as was said to me a few days ago, we have to take every opportunity, even when they turn out negative. We are teaching these young people, There can be no noble profession than teaching somebody how to do something I wanted to tell that lady how wrong she was. I wanted to thank her for also being a teacher. I understand you. I see you. I accept you as a teacher and as a person. This is a hard job. Thank you for doing this hard job. You are not just.

And because of all of that, it can be so hard to see the way our profession is treated in the media even so hard to see the way that we speak to each other. In a lot of the online teaching Facebook groups in particular, Conversations can turn really nasty really quick.

And it surprises me every time. There can be so much judgment and vitriol even within our own profession, like, come on, don’t we get enough of that from the media and from the public? Do we really need to be laying it onto each other as well? We are all in this together. This is the profession that we are choosing right now.

May not be always. May not have been always, but we are in this together now, and I think now more than ever, it’s really important for us to be supporting each other. Let’s take a step back on that vitriol. Let’s take a step back on that criticism and just support each other. We should be celebrating the work that each and every one of us is doing every day.

And of course, we all know sometimes a successful day is just a day where everybody was in the classroom. Sometimes a successful day is the day where everybody completely excels in their work, but sometimes it’s just having everybody there. Sometimes it’s having everybody happy. Success is different all the time, and I think we really need to remember that.

That’s particularly lovely when instead of all of. This vitriol, this negativity. We see reports of teachers being celebrated, and that’s why I particularly like World Teachers Day and other days like it. For some people it can come across really on the nose or really patronizing or condescending, but I look at it as a time to say thank you and to celebrate each other because if we don’t do it, who.

If we can’t look around at our colleagues in our staff rooms and say, You know what? Thank you for being here with me. If you can’t say that to them, who will?

And if you can’t say that to yourself, no one will. Each and every one of you listening should be thanking yourself for the job that you are doing.

I particularly love the stories that we get around this time of year of celebrities celebrating their teachers. I’m sure you’re all familiar with a little while back when Adele was doing her concert and her teacher was in the audience and they brought her up on stage and Adele was crying, which made me cry.

There are so many stories like this out there. And I love when the media takes that happy focus on the celebrities celebrating and thanking their teachers. And I think it’s, it’s a really good reminder of the ripple effect that we can have. I talked about this a few episodes when I was talking about the re-lit conference.

If you haven’t listened to those episodes, definitely go back and listen. But we do need to recognize the ripple effect that we can have. We directly impact the students that are in front of us, but that impact then flows on. Especially when you’re seeing them day after day. But even better than the messages of celebrities celebrating their teachers is when real members of our community have words of thanks for us.

And I don’t mean the politicians who put up their necessary thanks on social media. I mean the little notes that come in from parents or from the students themselves. If you are listening to this and you have a child of your own that has a fantastic teacher, one of the best things you can actually do is send an email directly to that teacher’s principal and tell them how great that teacher is.

You are probably a teacher yourself given that you’re listening to a teaching podcast. But if you do have a child or children with fantastic teachers, email their principal and just say, Hey, I really wanna shine a light on this teacher for these reasons. They are absolutely fantastic and they deserve some recognition. I can guarantee you if a principal is getting emails from parents about how great their teachers are, that’s gonna flow. Of course tell the teacher themselves as well, but passing that message straight higher up has so much more impact. And is really lovely for the, the senior leadership teams to hear that their staff are appreciated by the community.

So I have a collection of messages for you. These are from guests of the podcast. They’re from friends of mine, family, colleagues, strangers, and all of these people wanted to help you see how valued, needed, and loved you are. So I hope you get a bit of a kick out of these messages.

Adam: Hi everyone. I’m Adam. I’m the founder and the CEO of Real Schools, and I just wanted to, for World Teachers Day, make sure that every teacher that hears this knows that they are seen, that they are valued, that you do ridiculously important work.

That we know it’s hard. But teaching was never meant to be easy. It, it’s always been taxing. Hang in there. Celebrate today what you’re able to do as an individual, but also, uh, what you do collectively in your school and across your schools because you, you, you’re propping up this country at a time that we need it propped up.

You’re amazing. I honor you and I thank you so much for the incredible work you’re doing. Keep at it.

Harry: Hey teachers, Happy World Teachers Day. I’m Harry. I’m a teacher too. And I just wanted to say, never underestimate the positive influence and effect that you can have on your students. A lot of what we do is more subtle than a final report card mark, and it takes time too. You know, from the student’s point of view, a lot of them won’t really appreciate the work that you do until they’re your age.

Stephanie: Happy World Teachers Day, everyone, to all of the amazing educators who are listening to this message right now. I’m sending a heartfelt thank you from me as a mom of two small children, but also me, Stephanie, who has been in this education space for over 20 years. I am now the host of the Lowdown with Brave Mama Podcast.

My shift in career came in 2015 when the injuries that I endured during my birth did not allow me to return to my career in teaching. And while at the time it was heartbreaking and soul destroying because I think as teachers, when you go into this career, you really have this vision that you will be there and make this impact until the day you retire.

Now, let’s call the elephant in the room. We know that teachers, they’re talking about leaving and droves, and that teaching is not a sustainable career anymore. On your World Teachers Day today, I just want you to give yourself permission to think about you personally and professionally where you are in your career right now, and then where you want to go?

Do you want to go into leadership? Do you want to be a classroom teacher until the day you retire, or do you want to explore careers outside the system? This is your day to do exactly what you wanna do with that. I just want you to know that you have an amazing skill set that is sought after in every single industry.

I just want you to know as a human being, you are valuable, you are important, and you yourself deserve to feel inspired by your own career. Take the time today, reflect on all the amazing things that you do. Celebrate all the amazing things that you do, and Happy World Teachers Day.

Cam: I appreciate teachers and all that they do, particularly during Covid, which would’ve been a challenging time for both teachers and students alike.

Eden: Thank you to all the teachers who always let me be myself and encourage my passions in school.

As children, the first people we come to learn to trust are those that look after us. So thank you to all the teachers who looked after me when I was a child and continue to look after all the little ones of the new generations.

Heather: I would like to throw out a special thanks to a very special grade one teacher who went against the rules by digging through the dusty stores to find the old discarded books and provide a grade one with home readers. She also refused to accept the word of the head, who back then said it was the fault of the clientele that the school’s grade average was so poor. She allowed the children to learn at their own rate and extended as they could where the other classes refused extension on the basis of what will they learn next year. That was then, and things have changed there for the better. Now, I often wonder how much her example had to do with the eventual cultural shift at that school.

Nick: Teachers, I’m married to one of you, so I get to see your little snippet of your lives every day and you really do change lives and make the world a better place.

Emily: Thank you so much for tuning in today. I hope this episode has raised your spirits a little bit. As we dive deeper into term four of 2022, can you believe it’s almost the end of the year already? Some people probably say that’s not coming quite fast enough. Hopefully next year will be a little bit calmer.

As always, if you liked what you heard today, please make sure that you’re subscribed so that you don’t miss any new episodes. And if you could leave me a rating or a review or even better, share this podcast with your friends.

If you have other teacher friends that you think need to hear these messages or would enjoy this podcast, share it with them. Or if you have people in your lives who. Perhaps don’t quite understand the intricacies of teaching as much as you would like them to share the podcast with them too. I think it’s about a third of my audience are non-teachers, so there you go.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your week and Happy Teachers Day!


Emily is a secondary science and math teacher in Australia. She enjoys sharing the real and human teacher life, facilitating the ‘light bulb’ moment in her students, and drinking tea and wine.

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