COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on the world. Its impact on the educational profession, though, is unique. Every educator has an impact on children–the future adults. In a time of fear and uncertainty, our students turn to us; we are the moms, dads, and guardians away from home. We spend several hours a day with our students. Parents entrust us with the most precious things in their world–their children. This is a humbling fact.
Teachers are not robots–they, too, are human beings with feelings, fears, insecurities and lives. A teacher’s day is beyond classroom hours, and at the same time, teachers have to take care of themselves. When teachers don’t do this, they experience teacher burnout.
A nationally representative survey of teachers by RAND Education and Labor in late January and early February 2021 found that educators were feeling depressed and burned out from their jobs at higher rates than the general population. In the survey, one in four teachers–particularly Black teachers–reported that they were considering leaving their jobs at the end of the school year. Only one in six said the same before the pandemic. So, what can be done?
I have been teaching in a public elementary school for 23 years. I have had an impact on hundreds of children during this time–and anyone who sits at my desk and looks at my walls will see this–dozens of notes, poems, little books written to me over the years by my students, thanking me for all I’ve done to help them learn to read. When I’m having a day that makes me ask myself, “Why am I doing this?” I reread these notes, poems, little books and remember why–I am making a difference in a “kiddo’s” life.