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Why some teachers are leaving Michigan

Woodley Wonder Works
Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Last year, a survey of more than 11,000 Michigan teachers revealed that a lot of teachers are unhappy with some aspects of their job. Michigan's two biggest teachers’ unions conducted the survey.

Stateside talked to two schoolteachers in California who used to live and teach in Michigan. We asked them to reflect on some of the challenges they faced when they were educators in this state.

Jeff Bohl, principal of Lakeview High School in Battle Creek, joined Stateside to respond to some of their comments, and to give us more insight as to why so many teachers are frustrated.

Listen above for the full conversation, or catch highlights below.

On a lack of appreciation for teachers

“That lack of understanding, I would say, has always had for teachers a tremendous negative impact. Teaching is just such an important profession, you know? I mean, teachers truly impact the future of our society and our world every day. Good teachers are super men and super women, and they really are underappreciated because most people don’t really understand how difficult the job is, and what makes it difficult. Good teachers have to fully engage their heads and their hearts in what they do."

“It’s interesting in education. Because everyone has been in a school, they feel like they know what teaching is like. But preparing for teaching and managing a classroom can really be very, very difficult. Imagine trying to keep 25 to 30 kids intellectually engaged hour after hour when you know they’re all bringing differing levels of skills and knowledge and interest, and you’re trying to make sure that you reach them all. And that can be really exhilarating and satisfying work, but it’s tiring. And that intellectual part of teaching is almost the easy part because connecting with students, connecting with that many students, creating the strong, emotional bonds that we know accelerate student learning — that is taxing as well, and our teachers work very hard to make sure that they’ve got the types of supportive, positive connections with all their students so that all their students can learn as well as possible and that, in itself, is exhausting.”

On teacher evaluations

“I do know that many teachers have not felt historically that the evaluation processes are helpful to them. The more stringent, more rigorous evaluations processes that the state has approved for use now can create some stress. I mean it is stressful to have your practice scrutinized that closely, but I can tell you that we’re working on how to make that stress as little as possible, and also make the experience as productive as possible. And I’m a firm believer that the process that we use here in Lakeview which is the Charlotte-Danielson method, one of the methods approved by the state, has improved the overall quality of what we’re able to do for students in the classroom. So, is it stressful? Yes. Can it be done poorly? Absolutely. Anything can be done poorly and be ineffective. I don’t believe that’s the case across the board though.”

On recruitment concerns

“Professionally, it worries me. Emotionally, it makes me very sad.”

“Teaching is one of the most exhilarating and satisfying lines of work that you can undertake. You make connections with students, you make connections with their families. You know every day that you’re impacting them in positive ways, that you’re shaping their future and that you’re shaping the future of our world. And it’s really important to our society that we value that profession in a way that will draw our best and brightest to it.”

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