Aspiring Educators of Michigan host panel for future teachers

The shortage of educators and the pursuit of passion

In the midst of a nationwide teacher shortage, education students at Ferris are preparing to join the workforce.

Last Thursday, the Aspiring Educators of Michigan Registered Student Organization held a panel with teachers and a social worker that touched on the teacher shortage and what it means to be a teacher today. 

According to CNBC, 300,000 teachers and staff have left schools from 2020 to 2022. Also over the last few years, teachers have been posting on apps such as Tik Tok about how they were leaving their teaching jobs, stating that they were being underpaid, overworked and feeling under appreciated by staff and parents. 

Big Rapids high school teacher and panelist Jason Gielczyk discussed why this phenomenon is happening and how students can ready themselves for the job. 

“Once you graduate, you may struggle [with] getting the job you want,” Gielczyk said. “Although in this day and age you might have your pickings because [COVID-19] did a number to a lot of teachers and they’re getting out. So hopefully you’re all ready to go. Like I mentioned earlier, passion and purpose. If you have that, you’ll be well, you’ll be good and like your job.” 

The panel focused on how those in the education field can be prepared to deal with students with disabilities and what some of their struggles might be as well.

Hillside middle school teacher Anthony Barnes explained how he dealt with a student who needed some extra support with writing. 

“I gave [a handwriting book] to him on like the last day of school,” Barnes said. “I said, ‘Just do this over the summer, be totally cool.’ He came back the next day and was like, ‘Look, Mr. Barnes, I can write.’ Have you ever seen that moment for a kid, when [it] just clicks, the bubble bursts and they realize? That’s what I’m in for. This is the light bulb moment for me.” 

Secondary education senior Tyler Savides attended the panel. He is looking forward to getting a job and has confidence that he will get one. 

“Every single school that I’ve stepped into has relative hiring and is continuing to hire,” Savides said. “They’re losing teachers like flies from overwork and burnout to retirement age. COVID just kind of destroyed peoples faith in the system. So it’s going to be fine for the next probably five years.” 

Social work professor Danette Crozier was also at the panel. She has years of experience in the field, specifically in special education. She explained how she continues helping students when she starts to feel burnt out. 

“[When] you’re going out into the field, buy yourself a traditional hardbound journal,” Crozier said. “When something happens, you can jot [it down]. You don’t have to “journal,” journal, just write down a phrase that a student said to you, put the date on it [and] treasure those… There’s going to be days where you want to give up and you want to walk out. You open that journal and you read what former students have said to you, those things that fill your cup back up.” 

At the end of the event, panelists left attendees with hope for their future as educators. They were advised to let their students see them as human beings and to open up to them as they continue to learn and grow.

-edited by ML