Educators’ universal worries: student mental health, behavior
In recent years, student mental health woes and troublesome classroom behaviors have emerged as leading concerns among educators in Michigan.
In a review of MEA member polling since 2020, those twin topics nudged both educator pay and staffing shortages as the top concern of educators questioned – with a whopping 92% reporting they were either “extremely” or “very” concerned in a survey conducted last spring.
They are not new problems. Over the past decade, burgeoning rates of youth depression, anxiety and suicide – alongside a rise in challenging student behaviors in schools, ranging from disruptive to downright dangerous – have been headed toward crisis levels nationwide.
The global pandemic merely escalated these and other nagging societal issues.
Educators are speaking out on the conditions they need prioritized and addressed. Yet questions remain: How do these issues affect educators’ work and students’ learning? What can and should be done? Where are remedies being tried and discussed?
What is your story?
In the stories on this page and in coming months, we want to elevate the narrative around how these issues are playing out in Michigan schools to raise awareness of their significance and examine potential responses from practice, policy, and union perspectives.
- What are you seeing in your classroom or school that shows an aspect of the problem? How are you, your school or district, or your local union responding? What is working or needs to change in terms of practice, policy or funding?
If you have a story or example that illustrates the issues, demonstrates a best practice, or offers an effective action, reach out to MEA Voice Editor Brenda Ortega at firstname.lastname@example.org – and help to shape our coverage of these interconnected issues of such importance to the future of our children, our schools and our state.
In Sault Ste. Marie, the Eastern Upper Peninsula Intermediate School District locally designed and implemented a risk assessment system several years ago to intervene with students determined to be a threat to themselves or others. (Story includes resources.)
A trauma expert and Michigan State University associate professor in psychiatry is partnering with a nationally known authority on school shooters to pilot a “next-step” threat assessment program in five regions of the state aimed at preventing targeted violence in schools.
The president of the paraeducators union in Pontiac, Fred McFadden, is a certified trainer in behavior de-escalation techniques who presented to the paraeducators unit in Oak Park recently – about how to stop school violence before it happens.