We are struggling right now in this COVID world and that includes those of us working — whether we are still working from home or are going into the office full-time again or on a hybrid schedule.

For teachers, it can be especially frustrating, as not only has teaching always been done in person, but each school is now extremely different. Some are fully back in person, some are a hybrid model, some teachers are teaching from the classroom but all their students are at home, some teachers are teaching to half their students in class and the other half at home, and so on. It’s not easy, that’s for sure! That’s why we wanted to chat with some teachers for you, so they can share how they are really doing in this world and the advice they have for you.

“Here we are with COVID and all of that fun stuff is gone and is replaced with identical days…”

“One of the reasons why I love my job is being able to have very unique days. With school there is always something new going on, a club is meeting or there is an assembly or a sports game and you get to interact with students and staff in all of these fun ways. You get to really know your students outside of the classroom. Here we are with COVID and all of that fun stuff is gone and is replaced with identical days of signing on to zoom and teaching a class and speaking/seeing only a handful of students. It is exhausting. More exhausting than in person teaching with none of the joy. It is the grind of sitting behind a desk and just looking at a screen instead of the smiling faces of my students. But even with all of that I still wake up every morning and try to do my best for my students and they know we are trying our best because they feel the absence of school too. And so I’m holding on to as many wins as possible, the small connections with students and colleagues, the moments where we all smile or laugh on zoom, the times where I get to video chat with a student and I meet their dog or their sibling etc. So each day is definitely a new day and the highs and lows are different but ultimately just taking it one day at a time and doing our best to get through this together.” – High School Teacher, Massachusetts 

“…all of these new changes in such a short turnaround are draining our energy in a time when we’re also expected to constantly monitor our students’ (and our own) physical, mental, and emotional health.”

“Teachers will do anything for their students (we always have and always will), but all of these new changes in such a short turnaround are draining our energy in a time when we’re also expected to constantly monitor our students’ (and our own) physical, mental, and emotional health. We are constantly thinking of creative ways to deliver content in a way that is engaging to students physically in the classroom and to students live-streaming remotely (at the same time!!!). Another challenge is figuring out how to measure student learning because we cannot traditionally test on pen and paper in this hybrid/remote world; this is making me reevaluate my own personal teaching and testing philosophy halfway through my teaching career.

My advice is to find A FEW new things and stick to those few things and do them well; consistency is key for all learners, especially now. Also, while it’s important to give ourselves and our students patience and grace, we still need to keep our standards high. This pandemic will have an impact on education for years to come, so we can’t just have this year “not count”… we are still committed to educating our children the best we can. Overall, it’s been exhausting, but it’s also been rewarding to provide students with a safe, engaging escape from our current reality.” – Middle School Teacher, New York 

“In the end I just want to try to make my class as close to normal as I possibly can for my students and to make sure that they are having a good day every single day.”

“I am an 8th grade math teacher in Jamaica, Queens and I am teaching during the pandemic. I am a blended teacher so that means I go in to teach some days and other days I teach remotely. Teaching right now in one word is different. As teachers we are use to making these connections with our students that have become a little bit harder to make depending if you are virtual or blended. This year you have to be much more go with the flow because the students can opt into virtual learning at any time so daily our class roaster changes which can lead to other things that change. Teachers during this time also need to be more understanding as usual. Since we aren’t creating those connections as fast as we use to, students might not be telling us what is happening at home, we don’t know what is happening in their home life. The student’s internet could be off line, they might need to share a device with their younger siblings or even help their younger siblings during school times. Also another important thing is to be consistent with your schedule, always want to do a virtual class at the same time this way the students aren’t confused about what time is their class. In the end I just want to try to make my class as close to normal as I possibly can for my students and to make sure that they are having a good day every single day.” – Eighth Grade Teacher, New York 

“Just like kids adapt easily to new challenging situations, so do educators. Because that’s what we do.”

“You want to squeeze the pandemic out of the kids by hugging them until it goes away. You so badly want to guide your kids through small group activities but can only do so with the proper PPE, so it ends up forming a barrier that hadn’t existed before. You want your kids to be able to interact on deeper levels through hands-on group projects but because of social distancing, were unable to do so.

We’ve dealt with a lot of “no’s” this year- but guess what. We not only make it work- we make it thrive. Just like kids adapt easily to new challenging situations, so do educators. Because that’s what we do. Yes we can’t do hands-on group activities- we’ll utilize google software and create collaborate spaces for kids to work together digitally instead.

We’ll find creative ways to engage kids through social distanced ice breakers and discussions. And when we teach our distance learning kids, we’ll take the time to get to know the homes that these kids come from, because those homes are the backgrounds of the screens they show up on every day.

Teaching during a pandemic: we not only make it work, we thrive. Because our goal is, yes to educate, but even more so, so save the lives that we shape every day.” – Fifth Grade Teacher, Stamford 

Are you a teacher trying to make it work during the pandemic? What things have you learned and what advice do you have for other teachers? Share with us in the comments or tweet it at us. We’d love to hear from you!