Most, if not all, of us are blessed to remember that one teacher, counselor, janitor, bus driver, principal, security guard… that brought an extra special light to our school days. Whether it was the attitude they carried, the wisdom they shared, or the extra support they were eager to offer, they selflessly chose to impact young lives.
Students are not the only ones returning to school this Fall. Teachers, faculty and support staff remain committed to the education and development of our students. They are adapting to a school year that is unlike anything they’ve ever seen before.
Just like students around the country, teachers and staff are finding that the circumstances of their school year vary depending on where their schools are located. While some are under mandate to return to campus, others already begun their classes fully online.
On-campus and online learning each come with their own challenges. A July Gallup poll found that 57% of K-12 teachers were “very concerned” about being exposed to coronavirus at work. The high density of individuals on school campuses is a concern for their exposure with the virus, just as it is for students.
See more on teachers’ responses to how they are adapting with COVID-19, as offered by Education Week, here.
Meanwhile, teachers are also finding it stressful to adapt to an online classroom. Many joined the profession with an excitement for the personal interactions with students and have more trouble making the same impact on an unfamiliar online format.
According to Newsweek, the New York State Teacher Retirement System shows teacher retirements in New York are up 20 percent from 2019. Understandably, teacher health and performance concerns have forced these individuals to reassess their ability to effectively continue their roles.
A Heroic Resilience
Despite these overall concerns, teachers, faculty and support staff around the country are showing an unwavering resilience to their profession and students. In a school year filled with so many changes and uncertainties, these leaders understand the importance of ensuring that their students continue to prosper in their education.
While teachers, faculty and support staff carefully redesign their operations to meet the unprecedented safety needs of students, they are also exploring their creative sides to keep students engaged. Carl Leonard and Gail Brown of Teacher magazine offer an encompassing list of how teachers can and are doing this. These include having a routine structure, using isolating experiences to build student confidence, and actively reducing student anxiety. Schools are even discovering opportunities that went unutilized before, including leveraging the more advanced benefits of technology.
Furthermore, in these difficult times, it’s also become increasingly clear to teachers, faculty and support staff how crucial emotional security is to student performance. They are recognizing and addressing the increased need for (safe) social time, individual check-ins, and more established relationships with student families — yet another example of how their work goes beyond the classroom.
To all of you that make the school day possible, thank you for continuous and thoughtful work. We know that even if you are not yet back in your classroom, that you still find every way to make a tremendous impact on our youth.
We hope you stay safe during these times and we’re excited to see your full return to the classroom!