I returned my entire curriculum on demand
I’ve made so many videos of my classes, and kids and parents have told me they’re good! I used my digital projector and screencasting app, and recreated all of my reading and writing workshop lessons. I was determined not to let my program turn into memorizing and answering meaningless questions. I still can’t believe I did.
— Lydia Austin, 17 years old teaching English language arts, currently at a public college in South Hamilton, Mass.
Lasting effects on students
Children wonder what education is for and if it is necessary
Much like the Great Resignation for adults, we see children walking away from school. They may or may not be physically there. Many are unwilling to commit, even when teachers are as innovative as they know how to be. This is going to be very difficult to overcome.
— Rebecca Ritenour, 23 years old English teacher, currently at a public high school in Champion, Pennsylvania.
Zoom School was a soul-sucking horror
My students have gone from engaged and excited learners to dead-eyed at a screen. The screen only intensified their teenage feelings of being constantly judged, so I usually had a choice between dead eyes or no eyes at all. I am concerned about my own health, but also deeply concerned about the health of my students and their families. I think the anxiety will stay with all of them for a very long time.
— Tess Riesmeyer, an eight-year middle school literature, writing, and humanities teacher at a private Montessori school in Pittsburgh
Students are in a different place than where they should be
My biggest challenge while virtual learning was not being able to sit down with students to complete important tasks like completing financial aid applications for college. I work with high school students and have had a handful of dropouts or have to spend another year in school because they started working full time during the pandemic. I have caused some to leave the parental home because of the stress of isolation, and some have become parents themselves. Going back to in-person learning has been good for their mental health and has allowed me to help with those transitions.
— Laurel Cutright, four years teaching high school science at a charter school in Milwaukee
The advice they would give each other in 2020
If necessary, it is acceptable to sacrifice academic content to get to know each other
It is more important than ever that students feel connected to each other, to their teachers and to their school community. Look for opportunities to foster this connection.
— Kora Wilson, 16, teaching math, currently at a public college in Brooklyn
Trust your instincts
You know remote learning is going to leave the most vulnerable behind. Stand up for something different. And just because the kids are back in person doesn’t mean all is well. That was not the case this year or last year. It was really difficult and not normal at all.
– Jo-Anne Smith, 27 years of teaching first and second grades in public schools, currently at Waterbury Center, Vt.
Teaching was a second career for me, but I burned out and left in October 2021. I think it’s very difficult for the general public to understand how much stress the pandemic has added to a job already incredibly stressful. I am grateful for my years of teaching and sad that they have come to an end.
— Lisa Schroer, 12 years teaching math and computer science at public high schools, most recently in Kalamazoo, Michigan.