- Teaching in a Pandemic Has Changed Me in these Five Ways - January 19, 2022
By: Shannan C. Rose
Testing day, observations, curriculum plans, differentiation, team meetings, and PD’s to help you in the classroom, but are these really helping? The stressors and time management feel hopeless for most teachers. Educators have had to learn and engage students differently, let alone the learning gaps to bring students to grade level. Parents question your abilities to teach their son or daughter. It is no wonder educators are packing their bags and briskly walking out the door. The negativity of teaching is at an all-time high with little relief in sight.Teaching in a Pandemic Has Changed Me in these Five Ways Click To Tweet
Since the emergence of the pandemic, educators have transitioned from teachers to facilitators. As a result, educators are leaving at an alarming rate because of the challenging teaching demands that are constantly changing. According to RAND, a field study was conducted asking teachers how they felt about their current positions. In January of 2021, “nearly one-quarter of the teachers indicated a desire to leave their jobs at the end of the school year, compared with a national turnover rate of 16% pre-pandemic according to NCES data”. With teacher shortages, educators are unable to take a day off if needed because substitutes are in even lesser supply. Cultural Arts classes are being taught by teachers, which is taking its toll.
We are stressed and cannot get ahead.
Educators are not robots. It takes a certain person to become a teacher, find their passion and drive and educate our future. However, being forced into different platforms is not always easy. I have undergone many transitional phases in the past two years compared to previous years that were always systematic and expected. Now, I am no longer the English Language Arts teacher, but the everything teacher. From the moment I step into the school building, I am running on all full cylinders. My day is consumed with creating PowerPoints for all content areas, making copies of lessons, uploading information onto Brightspace because all children and parents have access to the daily curriculum whether present or absent, writing the objectives on the board, formulating questions for each reading group, and let’s not forget the Gifted and Talented/ALPS groups I am teaching, too. We are expected to complete our SLOs for teacher ratings (depending on your state requirements), be observed to ensure we are teaching effectively, and attend with input for student 504 renewal plans. Exhausted, absolutely! Do I love teaching- Yes!
As teachers, we are constantly outweighing the pros and cons of the challenges our administration sends our way. One moment you are online instructing, the next hybrid, and then you are in the classroom with little faces absorbing our lessons. The unknowns are what taxes the educator and make them yearn for some form of stability. The question remains- when will normalcy return? Is this our new way of teaching?
The Great Classroom Debate
To mask or not mask, that seems to always be on the School Boards agenda. Masks are highly controversial because some believe the effectiveness outweighs who we are as human beings, coverings that barely allow us the ability to teach. Colleen Connolly with Chalkbeat states, “Talking clearly all day and breathing was difficult. And teaching social and emotional learning with half their faces covered was tricky”. Teaching with a mask is beyond challenging in the classroom, due to voice hindrances and constantly asking students to repeat themselves. One does not realize how much we rely on non-verbal cues until they are removed. Masks pose a problem to student and teacher learning. Students need to see the teacher verbalize information to understand, especially our ESL (English as a Second Language) kiddos. It is not easy for them and you visually see them struggle to maintain the same pace as their native English-speaking counterparts.
Our students are facing so many obstacles and they are hiding behind these face barriers. I have already had one student leave the classroom from high anxiety because of her face mask. Calello with The News Leader spoke with a parent whose daughter experienced high anxiety when transitioning to daily school life. “Going from being home all the time with no agenda, no schedule, to — boom — having a schedule and being back and wearing a mask all day," said Ochs. As a teacher, I witnessed firsthand a student who was home daily with her educator parent crumble before my eyes in the classroom - the crying, wringing of hands, rushing to the bathroom to vomit… the list goes on.
The student is now learning at home in a safe and secure environment, where anxiety is no longer a factor, however, her parent continues to teach at the school- wondering where she went wrong with her daughter while struggling for answers. These are our newest members of society. How will they cope in the real world with this new normal? How do we as educators help them?
The Evolving Teacher
The new educator has evolved whether we choose to do it willingly or not. Our way of thinking within classroom walls has changed along with teaching our students curriculum and helping them with their mental health. Providing that added rapport where needed and nurturing hand. Our classroom is no longer what it used to be-it is something more, something that cannot be explained yet we need to define it. The unknown lurking just beyond our classroom door- hope.