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Treading Water in a Sea of Expectations

by Rebecca Thomas

That spark hasn't died - it's still there, buried beneath layers of exhaustion, bureaucracy, and endless demands. But oh, how the waves have battered you…

Underfunded, overworked, and treading water in an ocean of expectations – you are the heroes of our education system. Darting between admin blocks, staff rooms, and classrooms, you are the magical human beings who somehow juggle the unique needs of your students whilst navigating the treacherous waters of curriculum changes and political games.

The life preserver of relief teachers remains frustratingly out of reach; gasping for air in a flood of responsibilities you cry out for learning support - so many complex issues.

Defiantely you speak up - you can no longer tolerate changes for change's sake. 

"We are sick and tired of every government making changes that feel like swings and roundabouts," you say, your voice trembling with a mixture of frustration and determination.

And who could blame you? The constant flux is enough to make even the strongest swimmer feel like they're going under.

Yet, despite it all, grappling with exhaustion, you keep swimming. You work yourselves to the bone, striving to be better, to do more, to close impossible gaps. Even as you feel the undertow of exhaustion pulling at your ankles, you reach out to that struggling student or whānau, offering them a lifeline of understanding and support.

The growing wave of neurodiversity needs crashes over you daily, and still, you stand firm.

You hang your head at the loss of public confidence in education, feeling the sting of undeserved criticism, yet you return each day, ready to prove the cynics wrong.

As you desperately search for a moment to catch your breath, to declutter your mind and create coherence amidst the chaos, your main desire remains pure and untarnished - to focus solely on quality teaching and learning experiences. This, while trying to keep your own head above water.

Sound familiar?

You are not alone in this tempest.

Look around you - your colleagues are treading water too, each facing their own raging seas. Reach out to them. Form a chain of support and solidarity. Together, you are stronger than any current that threatens to pull you under.

As we move into Term 3, it's important to take a moment to acknowledge why so many of us feel like we're drowning. The challenges we face in education are immense and varied, often leaving us feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. 

Political and administrative challenges, lack of support and resources, complexity and evolving needs, testing, curriculum issues, exhaustion...

So as you stand at the edge of another term, toes curled over the precipice, ready to dive back into those turbulent waters, remember this:

You are valued.

You are appreciated.

You are making waves of change that will reshape the landscape of our future.

Take a deep breath. Square your shoulders. You've got this. And we've got you.

Together, we'll weather this storm, and emerge stronger, wiser, and more united than ever before.

Keep swimming - you are the light in the dark!

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