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Stay Well -- Michigan health officials start support groups for teachers amid COVID pandemic

Groups aim to have teachers to communicate with others going through similar struggles
Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 10:47 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - As the teacher shortage grows in Michigan, so does the workload for all the educators that are still in the classroom.

Michigan is facing a severe teacher shortage. While many are putting the blame on the lack of students majoring in education, one teacher believes they should be worrying about the teachers that already have.

“You’re torching people that have been in the field for 20, 25-35 years,” said John Langstaff, a teacher at DeWitt Middle School. “I know in my building alone, we’ve had several people retire or decide that they’re going to vacate the field in some way, shape or form. That’s not to mention the people that are leaving because they’re fed up.”

As someone who has worked in multiple districts, Langstaff said DeWitt Public Schools is a great place to work, but the problem is the industry itself.

“We’re trained professionals. We’ve spent all of this time getting these advanced degrees from educational institutions, but you run up this giant debt trying to become a teacher, then you don’t get professional wages,” Langstaff said. “On top of that, when you get into the field, one of the things that turns a lot of educators off is you’re not treated as a professional.”

One of the things the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is doing to help retain educators is to offer support groups. This allows teachers to communicate with those going through similar struggles.

“I like the idea of the groups as a whole,” said Ryan Holmes, with Mid-Michigan Leadership Academy. “There’s a school community and a school culture and if healing as a whole can be a part of it and working as a whole to get those types of tools, I think that’s great.”

While students are doing a lot of learning in the classroom, Holmes said one thing he’s noticed as his experience as a teacher is students pick up a lot more than what is in the books.

“They don’t just learn from what we teach, but how we deal with things, how we’re dealing with our stress, how we’re compartmentalizing,” Holmes said. “So, if we are able to it better and we can show that and balance as a school, that speaks great.”

Both teachers agree that in order for the industry to grow, the state needs to increase salaries and give them the freedom to do what they’re trained to do: teach.

More information on the MDHHS support groups for teachers can be found here.

Copyright 2021 WILX. All rights reserved.

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