COMMENT: By Carl Pynenburg, primary school teacher

With lots of talk about teachers' workload in the media I'd like to paint an authentic picture of what an average day at work looks like for myself and hundreds of other primary school educators around the country.

Before school starts we make sure that the class is setup for everything we need for the day until our learners start arriving at school.

Then we switch gears as we greet the kids and talk with parents about a variety of topics. Building these relationships is important as many of our learners are new to school
and the parents have lots of questions about how their child is getting on.


Then the bell rings and we 'officially' start the day. We start by wiping away tears and comforting students who are still finding it tough saying goodbye before launching into the day.

The next six hours are full of laughter and learning. This is the time I enjoy the
most as we deliver our lessons, update our online journal for parents on the fly and help our learners to reach their goals - all the while managing a variety of learning needs and maintaining behavioural expectations.

Carl Pynenburg has been teaching for five years.
Carl Pynenburg has been teaching for five years.

Lunchtimes are a mixture of playground duty, frantically eating lunch, applying plasters to skinned knees and (if we are really lucky) finding a few minutes to get to the toilet.

At 3pm the school day ends, the kids go home - and the second part of our day begins.

We use the afternoons for meetings and professional development, where we aim to grow our teaching practice with up to date research and pedagogy.

We plan comprehensive lessons taking into account the wide range of learning needs, our students' passions and handcraft a program that supports all of our learners.

We write blogs to keep our community up to date with what is happening in our classrooms so that they can continue learning conversations at home.

It is at this time that I feel physically and emotionally at my lowest.


I give so much during the day yet I know that I need to persevere because that is what I ask of my students when they are finding things tough.

On any given day I am a teacher, a coach, a shoulder to cry on, a leader and a learner.

Forty per cent of teachers are leaving the profession before they reach the five-year mark.

I can understand why teachers are leaving. They leave because they cannot carry on with the multitude of pressures put on them.

We need time to teach and to lead, we need more support for the variety of learner needs within our schools - and we need to feel like we work in a profession that is valued and respected.

I have been teaching now for five years and I hope to continue for many more to come. But if we don't address these issues in our education system I worry about how many will still be there to teach along with me.


* Carl Pynenburg is a teacher at Worser Bay School in Wellington.