In this episode, PAGE Talks host Craig Harper, PAGE executive director, presents a conversation with 2023 Georgia Teacher of the Year Michael Kobito. Michael is the AP Music Theory teacher and band director at Woodland High School in Bartow County, his alma mater. While attending college at the University of Georgia, he served two years as the drum major for the Redcoat Marching Band.
Georgia Teacher of the Year - A program of the Georgia Department of Education. PAGE is an organizational sponsor of the Georgia Teacher of the Year program.
Teacher Burnout in Georgia: Voices from the Classroom - This report commissioned by the Georgia Department of Education, and produced by a teacher task force chaired by 2022 Georgia Teacher of the Year Cherie Goldman, was published in June 2022.
Music for PAGE Talks is Inspirational Outlook by Scott Holmes
Podcast cover art by Dolly Purvis with PAGE Communications
03:12 – Biographical details: Born in Okinawa, Japan; early childhood in England; moved to Cartersville, Georgia, in Bartow County; graduated from the University of Georgia; and returned to alma mater Woodland High School as a band teacher.
04:07 – “Dream Come True” to return to Woodland High School as a band teacher.
04:24 – Learned the involvement and commitment required from educators to offer a successful band program that wasn’t obvious as a student.
05:42 – Stars aligned with former band directors agreeing to take care of the band program to make it possible to serve for one year as Georgia’s Teacher of the Year.
07:06 – Responsibilities of Georgia’s Teacher of the Year include ex-officio member of State Board of Education, service on education-related non-profit boards, keynote speaker and panel participant at education conferences.
09:06 - State Board of Education experience rewarding, and board members are interested in listening to the teacher voice.
10:24 – State Board focus this year is career preparation across the spectrum from college prep to vocational areas. Michael emphasizing the importance of the arts as a way to support that industry as well as helping students in academic work.
12:06 – Teacher pipeline issues are important to the State Board and the Georgia Department of Education. The Teacher Burnout Report – produced through the work of a task force led by 2022 Georgia Teacher of the Year Cherie Goldman – highlights the challenges teachers face and that sometimes lead to their dropping out of the profession.
14:41 – Teachers’ social media posts often refer to the lack of time available to provide core responsibilities for student instruction and preparation for instruction. Bartow County has done a good job of protecting time.
17:32 – Future Georgia Educators conferences are informative and engaging for high school students. Presenting to students provides a different level of excitement and is enjoyable connection while out of the classroom.
18:48 – “The Magic of Teaching” is the foundation of message to students and encourages them to join the profession and be that magical teacher for somebody in their classroom.
21:09 – The portrait wall of inspiring teachers prompted the dream to become a great teacher.
22:36 – The journey to being named Georgia’s Teacher of the Year and the joy of meeting so many inspiring educators.
26:23 – Culture clash in earliest experiences in Bartow County highlighted the need to understand differences in experience and perspective. Learned the critical importance of acknowledging students’ needs.
30:40 – Every student, every human being wants to learn.
33:22 – Differentiation naturally required in band program and strive to help students discover their musical voice.
36:10 – In order to model how to play all the instruments, Michael learned the basics of each instrument so they can trust that he knows what he is talking about.
37:03 – Academic knowledge is important, too. Students were 100 percent successful with AP Music Theory Test even though students came with a wide range of knowledge and capability.
39:12 – Friday night band experience is always fun and enjoy alumni and community support and appreciation for the program. It’s a “family reunion” every Friday night.
41:11 – Emily Kobito one of the best teachers Michael knows and is an inspiration.
42:22 – As an educator couple, only talk about school issues on the way home and avoid it at home to provide balance.
43:43 – Travels throughout the state and observing and talking to others has highlighted that the needs are different and require different resources. Encouraged by all the education supporting organizations that exist to make an impact for students and learning.
46:03 – The difference between bubbles and silos and making the effort to seek answers from others.
46:53 – Love working with PAGE this year and encourage teachers to join in the fight for students and public education.