A Teacher’s Perspective on the Pandemic: “This Is All Temporary”
I’m in my ninth year of teaching. I love what I do.
I particularly love being able to create relationships with my students, many of whom don’t have stable adult relationships or anyone to rely on outside of school. I love creating a calm and inviting atmosphere in my classroom where kids know they can relax and be themselves, but also will learn some math with minimal anxiety. I love having family-friendly hours that allow me to spend the entire evening and summer with my family, after having fulfilled my passion of teaching all day.
Since March, I haven’t been able to do much, if any, of this.
We’ve been online teaching, both from home and school, with very last minute directions. At first, I thought it would be similar to traditional in-person teaching, just online.
But it’s not. How can you create relationships with students when most of them don’t turn on their laptop camera?
I’m not asking them to do so either, because many of them have homes they are embarrassed of. I don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable when showing up to class. And it’s become all too clear that I cannot create a physical environment where they feel safe and comfortable, as we are all online.
A few times, students have said they weren’t online for days at a time because someone did not pay their internet bill. I’ve also heard more than one parent cursing at a student before the student could hit mute on their video chat. There are so many factors out of our control, it often feels like an uphill battle that none of us can ever win.
I had even tried keeping my 4-year-old son home with me for a few days, but that was impossible. I have no idea how parents are doing that, so hats off to all of you!
We had to make the difficult decision to send him back to daycare. Thankfully, we are still employed and in a position to make that choice.
Many others aren’t as lucky.
While the pandemic has stripped the joy and passion that I find in my career, I do still have small wins.
I had a student thank me for pushing him to graduate, saying that if I had not done so, he would not have made it. I get to have focused conversations with students when they are the only one to show up to class. I do still get to teach content here and there in a similar manner to how I did in the classroom. And I still have the awesome teacher hours that allow me to pick my son up from school earlier than most parents and spend more time with him.
I just keep telling myself to only focus on the day-to-day and to feel gratitude for being employed, as this is temporary and I will get to enjoy my job again at some point.
As a teacher and a parent, it is hard for me to offer many tips, as it seems like everyone is struggling on some level right now. But I can try.
If you have technology or other issues, please reach out to your child’s teacher or school. We often find out far too late about problems impacting a child’s learning.
Be kind to others in any opportunity you get. If you are fortunate enough to not be faced with unemployment, try to give back, especially during this holiday season.
And most importantly, try not to become overwhelmed with the long term stay this pandemic has made. Focus on one day at a time and know that this is all temporary.
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