Every year, during the spring holidays, the media takes an interest in education as the various teaching unions hold their annual congresses. Ever since I became a teacher, my experience of the media is that teachers are portrayed as moaners and whingers. We are judged against the pupils we teach – example: if the pupils in their schools behaved like the teachers did at congress, they would surely be trouble for them.
What can teachers do to ensure that their concerns are highlighted in the media rather than their behaviour? I thought this (mostly tongue-in-cheek) guide might be useful.
- Be courteous to Jan O’Sullivan. The INTO have invited Jan O’Sullivan and she deserves to be treated with respect. While we don’t need to give a standing ovation, heckling and jeering are not cool.
- It is likely that O’Sullivan will be in election mode so there will probably be some form of positive announcement. However, I would imagine our representatives will be charged with listing all the cuts that need to be reversed. I don’t think we need to do this for them. (See point 1)
- Don’t bring in a megaphone. If you do, don’t use it.
- Don’t argue with each other in front of Emma O’Kelly. It’s likely there will be an RTE camera in front of her.
- Don’t give the papers any reason to say that we are whining or moaning. For example, don’t say that we can hardly afford to eat on our wages, etc. Be truthful and only state facts. Nobody outside of teaching thinks we have bad wages or conditions.
- Do talk about children and how they have been affected by cuts.
- Do talk about families and how they have been affected by cuts.
- Do talk about how schools have been affected by cuts.
- Don’t talk about how teachers have been affected by cuts.
- If somebody is about to break any of the rules above, try and stop them. But not in front of an RTE camera. Or with a megaphone.