School During a Pandemic: Teachers' Perspective
Updated: Mar 11, 2021
**some quotes have been edited for clarity-- thank you teachers for your responses!
E-learning: nearly everyone’s biggest enemy at the moment. We have almost reached our one-year anniversary of going into online school amidst COVID-19 spreading to our country. A lot of people, including myself, were excited at first to try out this different learning format; however, months of gluing our eyes to the computer screen soon became dreadful.
If you are currently a student (godspeed), you know how stressful this situation can be. Many of my peers report having less motivation and worse mental health during school, but have you stopped to wonder how the other side of the screen is doing? This pandemic has completely switched up the agenda for teachers nationwide, and after doing some surveying, I have gathered some insight— straight from the sources.
“After teaching for 14 years, I'm having to reinvent myself as a teacher and learn new technology at the same time.” - Christina C, an underclassmen English teacher
Since the beginning, many teachers have been learning along with their students. Technology is forcing us to adapt in ways we never thought we had to; more traditional teachers are struggling to transition from giving hard copies to finding online resources, face-to-face interaction has been completely reworked, group work has resorted to virtual breakout rooms, and only getting ready from the waist up for the camera has become the norm. Teachers who were once very hands-on are required to compromise their ways of teaching due to our current situation.
“I feel as if nothing is the same, even though I try to get my enthusiasm across through a computer screen. This is nothing like my usual teaching.” - HS teacher
There is a disconnect between teachers and their students as a result of no real face-to-face contact. Less bonding makes it uncomfortable, especially due to lack of communication, participation, and discussion-- not only between the classmates, but the teacher and the student individually as well. Everyone is, ironically, feeling homesick for those small interactions and conversations that ultimately had people looking forward to school. Without all of that, online school has become more of a chore rather than a time to create connections while teaching and learning.
“It is impossible to forge a deep connection via a computer screen, especially because most students refuse to participate or even turn on their cameras. I miss the one-on-one interactions with my students tremendously.” - Flavia J, an underclassmen history/gov. teacher
Schools across the country are in the process of transitioning to hybrid learning, where a controlled number of students and teachers may be in the classroom. However, teachers are feeling torn as they have to cater to the students online and in-person at the same time. Some say that the schools are doing the best that they can, but feel as though expectations are set way too high. Overwhelmed educators have reported more stress and preparation to accommodate students on both sides. One teacher describes this as a “different kind of stress”. Unprecedented times like these are understandably challenging for teachers, who are being stretched upon their ability to work in the middle of a pandemic.
“There is only so much we can do when we are not physically in front of you. We can't force you to get out your notes. We can't force you to get off your phone or stop you from playing video games during class.” - HS teacher
Not all hope is lost, though. Many teachers wish for next school year to be closer to normal, whether that be through mandatory vaccinations and taking as many safety precautions as possible or by starting off hybrid to fully in-person. They hope we can take it one step at a time to ensure the safety of both the students and the teachers.
A few things that I hope everyone, that being teachers, parents, or students, can take from this article is to treat others with respect and be patient with one another. The way things are nowadays are so unpredictable; everyone is fighting their own battle behind the screen. Teachers are truly working harder than they have ever worked before, so take the time to appreciate what they are doing for their students to grow.
P.S.-- teachers totally deserve to be paid more for what they put up with.