Resigning from the profession in 2015, in ‘Teacher’ Gabbie weaves together the anecdotes of her life that sadly brought her to the point of leaving her career of 17 years. Memories from childhood, her studies through university, teaching experiences in the UK, Canada and New South Wales, together with delightful observations of the ‘teacher’ moments in her daughters’ lives are strung together like the overhead criss-cross display wires from her kindergarten classroom.
Familiarity with Gabbie’s experiences will strike a chord in the hearts of educators across Australia. Expect to reminisce about your childhood games of playing school, recall the influential teachers who inspired you to be the same and remember the feeling of being ill-prepared when graduating from teacher training.
Unfortunately, you will also understand the burden of trying to manage high-level student behaviours while keeping everyone else in your charge safe. You will relate to the anguish of knowing a child is in dire family circumstances, the helplessness of being able to do so little, and the frustration with authorities who should be able to do so much. Familiar too, will be the feeling of overwhelm from the mental, emotional and workload demands of the job.
This isn’t one woman’s story. Tragically, this is replicated in classrooms and the lives of teachers across our country.
It should be mandatory reading for every educator, teacher-in-training and the HR teams who support them.
Worthy of a five-star rating (gold in colour, lick-and-stick from the tin on the teacher’s desk) for shining a light on the current state of education in Australia.
‘Teacher – One woman’s struggle to keep the heart in teaching’ written by Gabbie Stroud, published by Allen and Unwin is available:
I was privileged to receive an advance copy of ‘Teacher’ for the purpose of writing this review.
Being all too aware of the mental health status of many teachers, I believe it is essential to remind fellow educators if ‘Teacher’ raises issues for you, please speak to a counsellor through your Employee Assistance Program, call Lifeline or see your doctor.