Teachers rock as term 2 rolls out

Teachers returned to NSW schools to commence a difficult term on Monday with a spring in their step, overwhelmed by messages of support and recognition for their work from personalities, luminaries and parents around the country.

Twitter lit up with the hashtag #teachersrock trending second – after #covidsafe – on Sunday night as celebrities rallied to applaud the work of teachers on the night before they return to school.

Jimmy Barnes, Magda Szubanski, Annabel Crabb, Paralympian Kurt Fearnley and former Socceroo Craig Foster were among the many who tweeted or recorded a video.

The movement, which was joined by state and federal MPs, resulted in 69 million unique impressions of #teachersrock in 29 countries by Monday morning, and the wave was picked up in news stories by ABC TV and commercial networks.

Teachers responded with heartfelt gratitude and emotion. “Corinne is staying at home” summed up most of the feelings, writing: “I just got a little teary seeing all the #teachersrock messages. What an amazing and generous show of support – a much needed antidote to the ignorant and cruel savaging we’ve experienced from our political leaders.”

Kim Osborne was moved to post: “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!! Like many others, I have spent much of my break and this weekend getting ready for day 1 and beyond, feeling daunted by what lies ahead, and a little bruised by the current wave of teacher bashing. #teachersrock has made my week!!!”

The messages not only made Janet Leadbeater’s day but will be an antidote for any tough ones that may lie ahead. “The #teachersrock messages have made my day. Counteracts any bad vibes and it’s so good to feel supported. Strengthened going back to school tomorrow. Thank you. It means everything. PS Will rewatch on any hard day.”

In his vote of thanks, Jimmy Barnes wrote “we should all take a moment” to thank teachers and carers. “You are all going above and beyond to make sure our kids continue their learning no matter what. You guys are the rockstars right now.”

Magda Szubanski, as Kath and Kim’s Sharon Strzelecki, drew on her character’s hypochondria and lovelorn existence to sing a ditty.

“They thought they must have dreamed when I pashed the teacher,” she sang before saying, “Because you just can’t do that at the moment, because of COVID. You shouldn’t really do it anyway. I just want to say, teachers rock!”

Paralympian champ Kurt Fearnley, who has three sisters and a brother teaching in public schools and “my young fella in kindy”, is a trained teacher with “countless friends about to start term 2 in NSW”.

“Unfortunately you don’t get the Gold Medal accolades, but you guys deserve it.”

ABC journalist Annabel Crabb posted a video – “Teachers! Always been a fan, love you even more now. Thank you” –also writing: “Huge thank you to the teachers busting a gut to educate our kids either in person or remotely … you’re doing an incredible job.”

ACTU Secretary Sally McManus addressed all teachers starting term 2. “We know how hard you have worked over your “holidays” to totally transform how teaching happens. Your health is as important as everyone else. Your union movement brother & sisters will always stand beside you.”

Eddie Woo thanked colleagues – “admin staff, cleaners, learning support officers, exec & classroom teachers” for their efforts during what has been “such a crazy year already with the fires and now COVID-19”.

“To all my colleagues in schools across NSW, as we head into a term 2 unlike any other, remember – your work, effort & time are meaningful. They matter. Our students matter. You matter.

Fellow maths wonk Adam Spencer wrote as a parent: “Over the last several weeks I’ve been amazed by the resilience, professionalism and care shown by my daughter’s teachers.”

Social commentator and lecturer Jane Caro took to video to say: “I just wanted to say how grateful I am for all the hard work you’ve been doing. I know how hard and how tough it’s been, and I just want to say I really appreciate it. We see what you do.”

Footballer Craig Foster, who is also a champion of public education, wrote: “As the country heads into the new school term, please know that we’re thinking of you, appreciate everything you do and will always remember how important you are (love heart).”

In her video, Julia Zamiro recalled the night before term for her mother, a teacher of more than 40 years. “I feel your pain. I just want to stamp something on your behalf, or correct something, but instead I’ll go out and pick up 50 papers in the nearby school.”

Political satirist Charles Firth couldn’t resist a Chaser-style dig at the powers in his video to teachers. “You must be especially pleased that Scott Morrison has discovered that the coronavirus doesn’t transmit inside the school boundaries, that’s a huge breakthrough. So good luck and have fun tomorrow.”

Actor and impressionista Jonathan Biggins sent a video in character. “Hello, Paul Keating here, possibly the greatest education minister this country never had. But I would just like to add my voice of support to all the fantastic teachers of Australia doing an extraordinary job, frontline workers. Keep it up.”

Author Kathy Lette, whose many novels include Puberty Blues, said: “My friends who are home schooling, oh my goodness, they are lying in the foetal position sobbing. They have never respected teachers so much.”

Shadow Education Minister Tanya Plibersek – who was joined by state equivalents Prue Car and Jihad Dib, as well as Labor colleagues Matt Thistlethwaite and Tim Crackenthorp, who all sent their own messages – said: “Love seeing all the #teachersrock videos tonight. We know this term is going to be tough, but our teachers have shown us they are resilient, creative and committed to all their students “

ABC Sydney radio host Wendy Harmer wrote: “Loving you, teachers… know you will have been prepping so hard over the ‘holidays’. Your work doesn’t start and end at the school gate, especially now.”

Comedian and Studio 10 presenter Denise Scott said of an ABC 7:30 segment of teachers sending video messages to their students: “I have full-on balled my eyes out every time I’ve watched them. So look teachers, whether you’re zooming, whether you’re skyping, whether you’re webexing, whether you’re teaching wearing your pyjamas in your kitchen, or whether you’re teaching face to face in a classroom please understand that all us mere mortal Aussies think you teachers are the greatest and we respect every one of you.”

Others to #teachersrock included author Benjamin Law. “On behalf of all your Asian nerd students who’d frankly DIE FOR YOU, [adding ‘it’s a cultural thing’] shout to all the incredible teachers and support staff about to embark on a gnarly term 2.”
TV presenters David Campbell, “you really have been on the front line for our families here”, and Yumi Stynes added their thanks. “For every one of my four kids, there’s always at least one teacher that helps connect them to their education, inspires them, somebody they want to please and excite and it makes such a difference to their learning.”

Actor and director John Bell, founder of the Bell Shakespeare Company, acknowledged teachers’ work “under the most difficult and confusing circumstances. You hold they to our future and we deeply appreciate your courage and commitment.”

Former PM Malcolm Turnbull retweeted Annabel Crabb’s post saying: “Thank you teachers!”, while wife Lucy wrote: “Never been a school term that starts like this. To all the teachers, parents and schoolkids on this strange education journey together – all the best!”

From teachers, primary teacher Nick Jones was spot on with his response.
“- We changed how we taught overnight.
– We create whole new engaging online lessons to keep students connected.
– We make sure our students who can’t be online aren’t left behind.
– We make sure each one of our students is heard and cared for.
We do our best. #teachersrock

Paula Madigan thought the messages of support were “a lovely counterpoint to the criticism and confusion that has been the past couple of weeks. Hold your heads high my teacher colleagues!”

Alice Leung tweeted: “Just watched all the awesome #teachersrock videos. Many teachers have been feeling a bit flat after how we’ve been treated in the past few weeks. These messages come just in time as we head into term 2.”

Sian Websdale commented on the recent “tough time in the press and a continuous steam of mixed political messages”. “If you don’t look at anything else on Twitter, have a look at this hashtag #teachersrock. There are a lot of people who believe in what we do, please take that with you into T2.”

Parents were quick to pick up on the messaging. AD Marcoms tweeted: “@stiveshs the public voices who have undermined teachers’ efforts in recent weeks do not speak for most of us. We see how hard you work, how quickly you respond, how much you care. You are on the frontline, in more ways than one. Thank you so much!”

Alison summed it up. “I’ve been in awe of how they’ve worked their arses off recently, not just for my kids, but for all the kids at the public schools. #teachersrock