Letter: Michigan’s student zombie apocalypse

Re: Shawn Lewis’s Sept. 20 report “Michigan teachers demoralized, union survey says”: The Michigan Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers-Michigan released results from their first collaborative survey, using data gathered from 10,889 different individual participants.

The results, which showed that teachers felt dismissed, were unsettling, if not completely surprising. Teachers felt like the purpose of education today was not to genuinely connect and teach students any longer, but that education had evolved into data, statistics, standards and testing.

The consensus was that respondents felt they had low morale, lack of motivation, and performance. One respondent even said, “the evaluation system ... has made teaching a version of ‘The Hunger Games.’”

As principal at Michigan Connections Academy, I am acutely aware that teachers are one of the most critical populations in influencing our children in their character, growth and development. A genuine relationship between a teacher and student can inspire that child for the rest of his or her life.

How can we depend on teachers to motivate our students when they are feeling unmotivated or burnt out? We must inspire our teachers so that their inspiration is infectious among the students they reach.

The true passion of teaching is sparking life within students. The moment their eyes shine bright with curiosity is what every educator lives for. That’s why it’s incumbent on schools to create a healthy, comfortable environment where teachers and students can thrive. Creating that environment sometimes means giving teachers more flexibility and supporting platforms where they can personally and regularly connect with parents and students.

If we want to resolve the student zombie apocalypse of the 21st century, inspiration is the key. Thus, we should start with our teachers by reinforcing that they matter and proving it by allowing them room to infuse their personality and individuality into the lesson plan, much like we do at Michigan Connections Academy. They must be given the latitude to move well beyond teaching to the test. For they are on the front lines and the energy they demonstrate to their students will be given back in kind.

Bryan Klochack, principal

Michigan Connections Academy