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Ag Ed for the Future: Fostering Commitment Among Teachers
Michigan Ag Connection - 09/29/2020

Across Michigan, as schools go back to teaching this fall, some agricultural education programs will not have enough teachers to continue on for future generations. The on-going shortage of trained teachers for Michigan's school-based agricultural education programs has led many to think critically about how to recruit and retain the best agricultural educators. Educator retainment is the focus of a recent paper from Department of Community Sustainability (CSUS) undergraduate researcher Eric Moser and his advisor and co-author Dr. Aaron McKim.

Moser and McKim's paper entitled "Teacher Retention: A Relational Perspective," published in the Journal of Agricultural Education, investigates factors that influence teachers' commitment to continue in their careers as agricultural educators. In particular, Moser and McKim were investigating teachers' perceived connectivity to various groups and organizations in their line of work and how that feeling of connection relates to their commitment to continue as an agricultural educator.

To investigate this idea, Moser and McKim surveyed over 700 agricultural educators across the country, asking about how connected they feel within their school and the local community, to the curriculum they teach, with other school-based agricultural educators, and how committed they feel to their career path as an agricultural educator. Moser and McKim found that feeling connected within the school they teach at and with other school-based agricultural education teachers were the two significant factors that positively predicted teacher career commitment.

"While it has long been established that connections are important in the workplace, it is rare to see a study dissect connectivity at that level. I think our way of thinking about relationships and connections is applicable outside this research," McKim said, reflecting on the study.

Thinking about the broader implications of this work for teacher retention, Moser says, "I would emphasize the importance of agriculture teachers engaging with other teachers and administrations within their school. A lot of our teachers are often the only agriculture and/or Career and Technical Education instructor at the school and are occasionally physically isolated in the school also. Engaging in district wide programs such as teacher mentoring and collaborative lesson planning with other teachers can be extremely beneficial for building those relationships."

McKim echoes this, noting that "relationships matter -- and, for school-based agricultural educators, who can sometimes pride themselves on being lone rangers within a school, building relationships with fellow teachers and administrators is essential."

The full paper can be found at https://www.jae-online.org/index.php.


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