Over and over and over again I heard variations on the following from music teachers at the Michigan Music Conference (MMC).

“The job is so hard. More and more is being asked of me and I’m getting less and less support. I feel every day like I’m drowning. How long can I keep doing this?”

Great teachers. Passionate teachers. Teachers who change lives every single day.

They are struggling. They are trying to stay student-centered and focused on teaching their students as much as they possibly can.

At the same time, they are asked for ever-more paperwork from the state via their districts. They are being told – sometimes by implication, sometimes literally – that maybe they shouldn’t be trying so hard to be extraordinary. Maybe mediocre is enough.

They are taking extra classes without extra pay. They are teaching six different preps without a prep period. They are serving on state and national boards to improve educational opportunities, and getting no respect for it locally. Several mentioned that the only time the administration notices them is when they’re making a new “school of choice” ad featuring their outstanding choirs or bands.
They are paying out of pocket to attend educational conferences like MMC but receiving no credit, and then turning around and attending “inservice” hours that offer nothing to actually improve their teaching.

These teachers are being waterboarded. They are being brought to the edge of drowning and then having to do it again the next day.
This was the tenth annual MMC, and in the past ten years I have never seen such desperation from my colleagues. Never seen such resignation. Never seen such uncertainty about the future.

Something needs to change. When these teachers give up, our children will be the ones to lose out.

What will it take? How many great teachers do we have to lose?


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