As a second-year teacher, Marlee Peck says she’s learned no-one can explain how much of an impact a teacher has on each child’s life and what an impact they have on you in turn. “Spending the time teaching, encouraging and laughing with your class is easily the best part of the job,” she says.
She’s the Fed Rep for Bundanoon Public School and a member of the Southern Highlands TA. Marlee is also a New Education Network (NEN) representative and hopes to attend the New Activists Conference in October.
“I’m in the Federation because I’m passionate about the future of teaching. Unfortunately, many younger teachers don’t realise what past and current teachers and Federation [members] have done to improve our working conditions,” she says.
“Through persistent campaigns and standing up for what’s fair, today’s teachers benefit from things such as the release from face-to-face (RFF) teaching initiative and the creation of temporary teacher positions. Now it’s up to us, as future teachers, to continue to make improvements and to protect conditions.”
When Miss Peck was asked last year to take over as Fed Rep when the existing Rep retired, she did not hesitate to say yes. “You can be part of the change that helps improve the teaching profession,” she says.
She’s found it great to help and support colleagues by providing information or contacts and through obtaining a deeper understanding of what’s happening in government and how that affects teachers.
This year, Bundanoon Public established a committee with four staff members, including Miss Peck, who gets time off for Fed Rep matters as required. “It’s wonderful to have their support and help for all things Federation, whether it’s attending meetings or campaigning on current issues. It is also beneficial having colleagues to discuss Federation and other matters that affect our school.”
She enjoys being part of campaigns such as Gonski. “I thoroughly enjoy knowing that I can help the cause and in turn, help schools, teachers and students in the future. And like most teachers, I believe Gonski is our biggest issue at this time. I cannot understand why some politicians are not agreeing to the last two years of funding. Politicians need to spend some time in classrooms and schools across the country and see what a difference Gonski is making for students,” Miss Peck says.
“I also believe that workload and teacher stress is an important issue for everyone working in schools. Teachers are speaking up about their immense workload and I think we need to make some more noise about it. The increasing amount of paperwork is putting pressure on teachers and I’m repeatedly hearing about educators struggling with work-life balance.
“This does not just affect teachers. At my school, administration staff are working much longer hours and feeling the pressure of implementing Learning Management and Business Reform (LMBR). The Learning and Support Team are also working with a complicated system as they fill in form after form to help our students.”
The camaraderie between teachers motivates Miss Peck. “There’s a strong connection between teachers as we understand what we go through each day — the physical, mental and emotional energy you put in spending a large portion of a year with a group of little people.”
In her spare time, Miss Peck loves to cook, read and travel. “Any chance I get, I’m on a plane! I’m very fortunate to be able to see the world and experience different cultures. My passion for travel and teaching has resulted in a lot of research on overseas teaching methods.”
— with Shelley Dempsey