It’s 8:30 am and the school day has just started. The hour is about the only thing that has not changed for teachers across the country. Weather teaching in school or remotely, the pandemic has changed the school day dramatically. In-school teaching is not as easy as it used to be. Teaching students will always be both rewarding and challenging to say the least but the addition of face masks for the entire day makes the day extra challenging. Masks are uncomfortable and if your not as used to wearing them as a healthcare professional, they make you feel like you can’t breathe. On top of this, yours and your students voices sound muffled which in turn makes hearing a bit more difficult and you can no longer see full facial expressions. Teaching younger children adds an extra burden because they may not completely understand the need for the masks and must be policed throughout the day to keep their distance and not share supplies. Sharing of supplies is a tough one for the little ones whom since birth we’ve encouraged to share. Teachers must disinfect desk between classes and maintain their own distance from students while teaching.
Some teachers are doing double duty, teaching in person during the mornings or on specific days and remote teaching the other times. Some are teaching remotely full time. Teaching a class of up to 20-30 students in the comfort and distractions of their own homes is not easy. Some students who may be struggling with the subject matter may not get the individual attention they need during online learning. Teachers may be instructing over babies crying in the background, students still eating cereal in the pajamas at the start of class or students who for whatever reason do not log in at all. For most, the school day has much longer hours and the workload has doubled. Many teachers are burnt out and need reprieve but the end is not in sight yet. They are exhausted trying to provide normal schooling during the pandemic and not knowing from one day to the next if the school with close or in some cases reopen. In addition to their normal educational duties many teachers have now become social workers helping kids deal with isolation and anxiety and well as helping them cope with fears if there has been a covid related death or sickness close to them.
Teachers need a break but most are not willing or able to take care of themselves because of their concern for their students. Administrators need to step in and encourage self-care, provide extra time for class preparation and offer counseling to the teachers. Without the extra attention this is not sustainable.