By Melissa Tinkler 

This Friday marks Australian Teachers’ Day, a day to recognise and appreciate the faces at the school gates, in classrooms and most recently, via your computer screens.

My partner Andrew and I have a combined 64 years experience in Australian education. During this time, we’ve seen many things, but nothing as uniquely challenging as teaching and navigating our way through COVID-19.

I’m fortunate to be able to say I truly love my job, but that doesn’t mean this period hasn’t been without its struggles. The overall wellbeing of my students, their families and colleagues has suffered. We’ve worked many 16-hour days, often feeling that the light at the end of the tunnel was far away in the distance (especially here in Victoria).

In saying that, I believe that alongside the worry and anxiety, it’s brought out the best in us teachers; whether it’s through learning to become experts in remote teaching, going above and beyond what’s needed each and every day to be successful educators or supporting the wellbeing of our colleagues, students and their families.

And it’s being recognised. Thank you!

Melissa Tinkler, and her partner Andrew Augerinos, Principal of Oberon Primary in Geelong have more than 64 years teaching experience between them.

In 2020 I’ve seen the community truly appreciate the pressures, worries and mental load that teachers carry. It has been wonderful to see positive comments on social media such as ‘We take our hats off to teachers!’. There’s been many ‘laugh out loud’ moments for us teachers as parents shared their hilarious takes on home schooling. One of my favourites was a meme that said: “Been home schooling my 6 and 8-year-old for one hour and 11 minutes. Teachers deserve to make a billion dollars a year. Or a week!” It’s a nice change from the previous perception that we work short hours and have too many holidays!

There’s also a greater understanding that ‘we’re in this together’. From other teachers, parents, students and even our private health insurer (Teachers Health), we’ve felt the support from the whole community to get us all through each day. If I could take one thing away from the pandemic, it would be to continue to cherish those supportive partnerships between families and teachers. It certainly does take a village to raise a child.

Melissa Tinkler spoke to Bounty Parents as a Teachers Health brand ambassador.

While it’s been, and continues to be a challenging year, 2020 has also been the year of community spirit. Today on Australian Teachers’ Day, I say a massive thank you to my fellow teachers across Australia for their hard work and continued efforts through this challenging period. You’re all wonderful and I am so proud and thankful to be part of the education community.

Next year is my 31st in education and I enter it feeling grateful for the role I play in this community.  Thank you, parents, for allowing me to be part of your child’s life.