The worldwide pandemic that has lasted for almost two years has shaken many to the core and made individuals, especially teachers, work even harder than before in these difficult circumstances.
Of course, there are many other individuals such as healthcare workers who that have risked their lives to save those battling COVID-19, but that does not mean everyone else has had an easy time adjusting to the drastic changes and sudden halt that the pandemic brought to most aspects of life.
Schools across the country were shut down in March of 2020 due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic to socially distance and stop the spread of the virus. With schools being closed, teachers had to figure out how to get material to all students.
Some situations were harder than other, such as students who do not have access to internet at home. Many teachers resorted to paper packets and other materials for those who did not have access to internet, but even these packets were often going to waste and not completed.
Julie Vorsteg, a kindergarten teacher at Ocean City Elementary School in Ocean City, Maryland, knows all too well how teachers were impacted by the pandemic. “At the end of the first year (March 2020), it was a difficult transition because there was no plan put into place prior to the shutdown. There was a lot of new technology introduced and many bumps along the way,” said Vorsteg.
This new technology aspect was especially hard for teachers and parents who did not have much experience. “A lot of parents were shut down too, so they became the home teacher. Kids whose parents had to work or didn’t have a supportive home life for a variety of reasons fell through the cracks. There was only so much we could do,” said Vorsteg.
Vorsteg believes she and her coworkers are now working even harder because elementary students really suffered from online learning. “Electronic devices are not meant for teaching early childhood students. They need interaction and hands-on activities plus manipulatives. We are trying to bridge the gap this year for those students. There’s a lot of pressure to catch kids up and get them ready for the grade level they’re currently in,” said Vorsteg.
Educators already have a tough job as it is, and the pandemic only made it more difficult. According to a survey conducted by the Temperament and Narratives Lab at University of Maryland, out of 185 teachers across the United States, almost 42% said they were not excited to teach like they usually were and only 28% said they were determined to teach during the pandemic.
This means that almost half of the teachers that participated in this survey were not excited about their career at this point. It also means that a whopping 52 out of 185 teachers given the survey were determined to continue teaching at the same level once schools were shut down due to COVID-19.
Once students were able to start returning to school, it was even harder for teachers to teach students both online and in person. Guidelines and precautions were put in place to maintain social distancing and ensure that the spread of COVID-19 was at a minimum. Some parents were also not comfortable sending their children back to school when the opportunity arose, so they continued to learn online instead of in the classroom.
The emergence of the coronavirus has thrown almost everything in our lives out of balance. It is unfortunate that so many impacts of the pandemic have been negative, but hopefully some good will come from all of it. We will continue to see the effects of students falling behind in the past year and a half or so, but educators can only continue to do their best to present the material and hope students will learn as much as they can.