Everything that happens in the classroom is 100% because of the teacher
As a first year teacher (or no matter how many years of experience you have), you may envision standing in your classroom, immersed with your students, and delivering an engaging, interesting, and fun lesson. Good luck with that. First of all, everything that happens in the classroom is 100% because of the teacher. The activities, the discussions, the classroom vibes, are all a direct result of careful planning and execution of ideas by the teacher. Most of us don’t have access to curriculum. This means that we are researching and brainstorming engagement strategies, essential questions, discussion questions, planning and implementing activities, as well as checking for understanding and for the effectiveness of our lessons with questions, exit tickets, and quizzes. And we do this for: Every. Single. Lesson. If this seems like a lot of work, it is. I didn’t even mention that we collect some of their work each day to grade and give them feedback. This means 150 of everything. And when does this grading happen? Usually after school hours. At home, or behind my desk when the day has ended and students are logged off or gone for the day.
Teachers, I admire you tremendously and I have so much respect for you
If you read the description above and are still motivated to teach, you must be a dedicated educator. I admire you tremendously and I have so much respect for you. There are times when I am invigorated by the learning and my students, and it makes all of my spent efforts worth it. Many other times I feel overwhelmed with my day-to-day responsibilities, and I feel drained, deflated, and defeated. One of the biggest hurdles for me in my teaching career has been discovering and wearing the different hats required to be an effective teacher. We all know that teachers are subject matter experts, responsible for imparting their knowledge on a fresh crop of young minds each year. But if you aren’t a teacher then you may not know how many other needs these young people have, which need to be met in order for them to be successful academically. Some of the hats I wear daily are: counselor, therapist, social worker, nurse, nutritionist, mentor, custodian, entertainer, babysitter, tech support, and mediator. It’s the responsibility of caring for the diverse needs of my students that often leads me to feel so drained and inadequate as a teacher. I love sharing my passion for science with students by doing fun and challenging things, but there’s also a lot that interferes with this each day: drama, disengaged students, neglect at home, behavior problems, and distracted students (cell phones ARG!!).
As hard as it has been to be a teacher, it got even harder this 2020-2021 school year during the pandemic
I’m not writing this to discourage new or potential teachers from a career in education. I simply want to explain why I often feel under supported and underappreciated, and why I believe so many teachers experience Burnout. You can read my Blog post on Teacher Burnout if you’re interested. As hard as it has been to be a teacher, it got even harder this 2020-2021 school year amidst a pandemic and national education crisis. It was challenging to adapt lessons for online learning at the start of the year. I had to learn to navigate Zoom, as well as support my 12 and 13 year old students in navigating Zoom and their other digital learning platforms. It got even harder when we transitioned to a hybrid model of simultaneous in-person and remote learning in October 2020. I will need to write an entire Blog post on that struggle, which has not been successful in my view. This year many students’ home lives got harder. They had more responsibilities at home, sometimes caring for their younger siblings and prioritizing their education over their own by leading them in their learning. Many students were not motivated and were not successful in transitioning to more independent coursework. Some students did not have reliable internet, or a quiet space to do their learning. Distractions and temptations were the vice of many young learners. All of these factors compounded and by the end of September 2020, teachers, administration, and the school board were astounded and dumbfounded by the lack of participation and engagement. In some of my classes, 50% of my students were completely disengaged, as if they had not “attended” a single day of school.
I wonder if other passionate teachers like me are also struggling to meet the demands of the job, as well as to feel a sense of accomplishment and reward. When the conditions of the pandemic improve, I wonder what will be some of the lasting impacts on our education system? I want to share more of my experiences in teaching this year to enlighten others and to let other teachers know you are not alone if you feel overwhelmed, lost, or discouraged. Way too much was already asked of us, and then even more was piled on this year. I want to give a big virtual hug to everyone who is affected by these circumstances. Students, parents, guardians, families, communities, fellow educators, please know that you are important. I also want to give a huge virtual hug to Teachers, especially those who have been teaching in-person like me. You already dedicated so much of your time, energy, and compassion, and now you literally put your life on the line everyday to do your job.
Let me know how you’re doing during this school year or your thoughts on this topic by adding a comment!
2 thoughts on “Teaching was Hard Before the Pandemic. Now with Simultaneous In-Person and Remote Learning, it’s Harder Than Ever.”