It’s World Teachers’ Day in Australia. The 2020 school year has been like no other, with school communities quickly adapting to ever-changing circumstances. We asked a few rural teachers what they learned from this landmark year, and what being a rural educator means now.
Tessa Demaria | Kerang Technical High School
Tessa, how long have you been teaching?
I’ve just clicked over four-and-a-half years.
And, what subject areas do you teach?
I studied Outdoor Education at uni but in my current role I teach physical education (7-12), and health education (7-11).
What do you love most about being a teacher?
I’d have to say, for me, it’s all about the relationships and rapport you can develop with students, your fellow educators, and the wider school community. And, after the year we’ve had, I’d equally say what I love most is face-to-face contact with students. I think we’ve shown what can be achieved with online learning when it is required, but we’ve equally established just how special and important it is to get in the classroom each day with our students.
Really, it’s all about the day to day things — they all add up and make our profession what it is. I love seeing students accomplish things that matter deeply to them; that’s always heart-warming. And then, at the other end of the scale, with some kids it’s just that they turned up on time, or that they completed an assessment on time, because I know what that required of them.
As a teacher, what will you take from 2020?
Oh, 2020! It has highlighted just how much time, effort and care we put into our students. If you think about it, when there’s not a global pandemic we spend more time each day with our students than their families do. For this reason alone, we play a critical role in their personal development. When you take that time away — when you remove the face-to-face contact between students and teachers — it becomes very evident just how much they value us, even if they don’t always say it.
How much have you enjoyed getting back in the classroom in Term Four?
Well, I’m actually on maternity leave now but getting back at the end of Term Two, after the first lockdown, was extremely refreshing and rewarding. You don’t realise how much you enjoy seeing each other until it’s taken away from you! Seeing the relief and gratitude in their eyes when they came back, that’s something I won’t forget.
Tessa Demaria: Educator.