Teaching during the pandemic


Jenny Loveland

After students attended school virtually for up to three semesters, teachers experienced higher rates of misbehavior in their classes. This, combined with the numerous other stressors stemming from the pandemic, caused teaching to become more difficult. “Teachers have had to deal with some of the most horrible and “unbehaved” kids I have ever seen in my entire life. Last semester, I heard about teachers crying because of how bad their students [were], how much they don’t enjoy teaching anymore,” Kell senior Presley Knudsen said.

Jenny Loveland, Co-Copy Editor

As the pandemic began, its effects on students became immediately obvious as virtual learning forced them to rapidly adapt to an unfamiliar format while worries about the mysterious virus circulated. However, the teachers who heroically did their best to facilitate this transition frequently remain overlooked. Nearly a year later as they guided students back to in-person learning, all while bearing universal worries and unique struggles born from the pandemic, it became clear that COVID-related teaching difficulties would become the new normal.

“I have seen an increase in apathy, but I also have seen an increase in the joy of being back in person. Online school was so difficult for so many kids. And I totally understand that, like, I can’t imagine being alone with your own schooling being away from people,” literature and social studies teacher Lindsay Theaker said.

Teachers saw higher rates of indifference and inexperience in a wide section of the student body as students returned to school after lengthy virtual learning. While students gradually learned to adjust, necessary absences due to COVID exposure continue to create hurdles for both students and teachers to overcome. This consistent event has increased the difficulty of teaching, although the development of programs such as CTLS provides support.

“I still love and adore what I do in the classroom every single day, but I do feel like [the pandemic] has made things increasingly harder for us as teachers. I care about my students [and when] they are going to be [out for] a long period of time I’m worried about their health. I think about the mental health toll. I think about those things every single day as a teacher and it’s hard,” Theaker said.

Teachers interact with dozens of students every day. With this unavoidable high level of exposure, paired with a greater chance of serious complications from COVID-19, several teachers face a dilemma as the career they cherish became unexpectedly dangerous. Beyond their own safety, teachers hold concerns for those around them that could contract the virus while in school.

“We have kids in our school that are battling cancer. We have teachers that are battling cancer. We have people who have lots of extenuating health circumstances, and I don’t think sometimes people think beyond themselves. And that’s been for me, the most startling and heartbreaking part of the pandemic,” Theaker said.

However, when teaching, pandemic safety precautions such as wearing masks and social distancing can cause difficulties as they interfere with a teacher’s familiar rhythm. Although these measures have shown their value as they help keep people safe, they come with inherent complications for teachers.

Social distancing frequently prevents in-person group work while it simultaneously prevents the spread of the virus. Masks can prevent a teacher from communicating with their expressions effectively and sometimes require a higher volume of speaking, potentially causing vocal strain over time. The psychological effects of masks also impact teachers who try their best to connect with students whose faces they do not recognize without a mask. Left with the choice between safety and ease of teaching, teachers face a dilemma.

“It’s so hard to teach in a mask. It’s hard to talk over [everything] as it is and then teach with the mask…one of the things we [other teachers] always were talking about is that we don’t drink enough [with masks] and then we’re getting sore throats from not drinking enough. When I’m on a plane and I have to wear one or I’m sitting in a doctor’s office and have to wear one, it’s no big deal because I’m not talking and I’m not trying to project my voice to the back of the room,” literature teacher Cathie Lawson said.

While each of these issues seems minuscule on its own, together they cause a considerably higher level of difficulty for teachers inside the classroom. Despite this, the teachers at NC and elsewhere continue to exceed the expectations placed on them as they guide students into the next stage of the pandemic.