Pandemic Teaching Is The Hardest Thing We’ve Ever Done

Teachers across social media are sharing just how hard this really is.

Pandemic Teaching Is The Hardest Thing We've Done, Teachers Share

Whether you love social media (#teachersofinstagram!), you hate it, or you are just plain sick of all the noise, teachers are using social channels to share the toll that pandemic teaching is taking. In the hardest year of our professional lives, sharing our vulnerability and keeping it real is the best way we can support each other. Teachers are often optimists, skilled at putting on a happy face, rolling up their sleeves, and soldering on. But at what cost? Thank you to all the teachers who are speaking up, sharing their experience, and letting us all know that we aren’t the only ones who don’t know how much more we can take.

“Today I wanted to scream, cry, run, and hide all in the same moment”

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“A continuous pain in the head”  Is the formal definition of the word  Headache 🤕  Can you literally see the headache in my forehead?!  Today I wanted to scream, cry, run, hide, and sleep all in the same moment  My body is showing me all the signs that I should be paying attention to.  Headache Dehydrated Moody Acne Anxiety  I don’t think my body can create anymore messages to my brain to tell it to slow down and rethink covid teaching.  I think I have developed more wrinkles from scrunching my nose to adjust my mask teaching, thankfully I don’t see any grey hair yet.  Today, I became frustrated when my class told another teacher that I give too much work. Me?!?! I was shocked. I sat down with them and we had an open discussion about how to organize the work so they know what is being graded (For the teachers here, all mandatory assignments in google classroom now get a ⭐️ in front of it, that’s the new system)  That discussion made them and myself feel better. They now see that it is exactly the same amount of work as the other teacher (we compared 😂 and we do it in class on the days they are there) and the kids had input which built upon our mutual respect.  I know I should be excited because this is exactly what students asked for, but I can’t help but compare my teaching ability this year to my past 4 years. I’m trying to give myself grace but the enneagram 1 in me is crying!  What does giving yourself grace actually look like? Drop your comments below👇🏼 of how your giving yourself grace during this year? It doesn’t have to be teacher related.  #secondaryteacher #headhurts #covidteaching #brainhurts #eslteacher #givegrace #goalgetters #iteach #iteachtoo #iteachhs #thenewnormal #thenewnormal😷 #jewelrywithmeaning #jewelrywithapurpose #jewelrywithintention #anxietysupport #anxietyproblems #anxietyattack #teachertired #napqueen #jeepwranglersahara #covid_19😷 #covidkindness #graceandgrit #graceupongrace

A post shared by Sam Palmer | TEACHER • FOUNDER (@ellevate.co) on

It feels like we experience so many different emotions every day. One minute we think, “I’m doing ok,” and the next we are in tears. If you think you are the only one feeling all the feels, know that you aren’t alone. Pandemic teaching is an emotional rollercoaster.

“How we will survive a year like this?”

This is hard for us. It’s hard for our kids. It’s exhausting, and so many of us feel like we are failing miserably. You’re showing up. You’re doing the work. At the end of the day, you’re trying your best, and while it may not feel like that’s enough, it is.

“It’s OK to not be OK all the time”

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A few weeks ago I asked teachers how they were feeling using one word; overwhelmed, exhausted, discombobulated, unwell, stressed and many more were the words I received.⠀ ⠀ This was me today being vulnerable. I’m posting this as a reminder that it is okay not to be okay all the time.⠀ ⠀ + It is okay to just feel every emotion you have and express it. There are times I just want to turn my camera and mic off and just let it all out.⠀ ⠀ + It is okay if you feel like your head is in a million places at once, where you’re talking about one thing, thinking of another and doing something else. + It is okay to feel frustrated and exhausted. We are trying our best to adapt during a time of uncertainty. ⠀ I’ve been there, we all have, and we are all experiencing this together. You are NOT alone and you WILL get through this.

A post shared by Marissa Garcia (@_thecreativecactus) on

So many of us are Type A. We are perfectionists who are really hard on ourselves. Thanks for the reminder. If you need to cry, cry. If you need to laugh, laugh. Take the nap if you need it. There’s no roadmap for pandemic teaching. You do you.

“We are humans. We can only do so much”

It’s hard to work 24/7 and still feel like you aren’t doing enough. Everyone seems to have an opinion about how teachers should do their jobs right now. Unless you’ve taught in a classroom, your feedback isn’t helpful! If you feel like you are at your wit’s end with pandemic teaching, know that you’re not the only one.

“I’m tired of having to defend my profession”

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There's a saying, "There's no tired like teacher tired" and that is especially true this year. And many have it worse. . . Because of my husband's health concerns this summer, I was fortunately allowed to teacher in our virtual school from home. But many colleagues were not given that opportunity. Some are teaching virtually but would rather be in person. Some are teaching students face to face (f2f) while also teaching virtually…at the same time. Teachers are being told to give up their planning, their lunch, their time to actually plan lessons because more teachers are needed to monitor hallways or classes need a sub. Teachers are being forced by the state and districts to go f2f five days a week, even when DHEC says our numbers are going up (looking at you @gcschools). And it is not okay. . . This doesn't mean that I hate my job. I still love teaching. . . This doesn't mean I hate my school or district. I still love my school, administrators, and district. They have done a great job during this time of opening cautiously and slowly. . . I'm tired of having to defend my profession to people who don't know what teaching in a classroom is like. I'm tired of having to explain to my legislators the difference between "duty-free" planning time and "unencumbered" planning time. I'm tired of having a state Education Oversight Committee compromised of mostly non-educators with no practical classroom experience (@govhenrymcmaster). I'm tired of asking our state to fully fund education because there's "no room in the budget" (but there is room to give a tax break to the Carolina Panthers football team for building a practice facility in our state). . . So if you know a teacher, an aide, a bus driver, an administrator…please show them some extra love. Because I promise you they are tired. ❤️ . . . @scfored #teachertired #fullyfundpubliceducation #teachergram #middleschoolteacher #teacherstress #redfored #teachersarehumanstoo #voteforeducation

A post shared by Amanda Harper (@whatmrs.harperisreading) on

Yes, to all of this! Teaching is a job. We shouldn’t expect teachers to go above and beyond at the expense of their own health and well-being. And if you still love teaching but feel powerless right now and want change, we do too.

“I am struggling”

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I typically use this platform as a positive place, but it has been hard to stay positive while teaching in 2020 during a pandemic. I always want to be real here & not make it “picture perfect” or like I have everything together when that is 100% not the case.⁣ ⁣ I am struggling. It is hard going to school every day knowing I am not giving my best to my students because it is physically impossible when we are being pulled a million directions a minute.⁣ ⁣ Virtual teaching is hard. Hybrid teaching is hard. Teaching a room full of students wearing masks is hard. Teaching in a normal, non-pandemic year is hard. This is all hard. ⁣ ⁣ The “vibe” of teaching has changed drastically in the last 9 months. We went from being superheroes when we made our classrooms virtual in the blink of an eye in March, to being told we have to teach in person, virtually, & asynchronously at the same time with no training or guidance. Just talking with my friends, family, coworkers, peers, random strangers in the internet, & teachers I follow on social media, I am worried about our profession. I am worried about educators. I am worried about administrators.⁣ I am worried about students. ⁣ I can’t speak for everyone, but I became a teacher for 3 reasons. 1️⃣I saw my mom, an educator of 39 years, love her job every single day & I looked up to that so much. 2️⃣I have a passion for making learning (specifically science) engaging, exciting, & meaningful for students. 3️⃣Plain & simply: I just love kids. It feels like teaching in 2020 is taking away everything I love about teaching. ⁣ ⁣ Unfortunately, I have no solutions to these problems. (& no I am not going anywhere or leaving this profession!!!!) I am just here to say you are not alone. Whatever you are feeling is valid. Something has to change.

A post shared by Josie Bensko (@maniacsinthemiddle) on

We couldn’t agree more. At first, teachers were called heroes as we scrambled to teach online. Then, we were asked to teach students in person and online at the same time. The anxiety of not knowing what we will be asked to do next is crushing.

“I feel like I am failing”

Teachers we cannot stay silent. *Edited to add this disclaimer for those who have asked me to make this public… I title this video a broken hearted teacher in the face of district mandated Online standardized testing during a pandemic: Let me be super clear, I thrive on data. Over the years, I have learned so much about my teaching abilities through reading my data, obtained through standardized testing. I read the results, I plan and prepare lessons for remediation and review based on my data. I review the standards that were tested and look at the scores. I dive deep into the state standard and discover what aspects I missed in my lessons. Where and How am I lacking and asking myself, “how can I do better?” Ask anyone who has ever worked with me in education, I am data driven and I take it serious. I truly value and understand the importance of data and the benefit of testing. My state test scores aren’t one of the absolute highest in the entire county for nothing. I succeed because of my hard work and dedication to my craft, collaboration with my civics team, data digging, and a whole lot of Jesus. With that being said, district pretests are the absolute least important thing on my plate right now. It’s unnecessary and puts additional weight on the shoulders of teachers and students who are already stressed to the max. So this video is not a lazy teacher crying that she has to give online students a pretest. It is so much more than that. Watch it in its entirety before commenting on it or judging me for sharing my vulnerable truth.

Posted by Terry Kinder on Thursday, September 10, 2020

It’s heartbreaking when we are asked to do things that aren’t best for us or our kids. How can we test students on something that they haven’t learned? Why are we treating this school year is if it is normal when it is anything but ? Pandemic teaching isn’t normal teaching.

“My heart is so heavy”

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I'm 3 seconds away from crying. And I don't even know why. My heart is so heavy, carrying the weight of my students grief and struggles, on top of my own. I need to reach through the screen and hug them. I need to tell them that yes it sucks, but will be over soon. But I can't. I have no idea when we'll be allowed back in person. And today is just that kind of day. Where I get to sit in my grief, and feel sucky for awhile. I'll probably cry, maybe take a bath while putting on every mask I own. I'll be ok. If you're in this sucky space, know that you're not alone. I'm here too, cuddled up under a blanket. Come say hi. #covidsucks #covid19teachingtips #quarantinefatigue #covidfatigue #teachertired #covid2020 #2020schoolyear #itsoktoaskforhelp #itsokaytonotbeokay #itsoktocry #tipsforteachers #teachertips #letitgo #wecandohardthings #butnotthis #teachingwhilequarantined #distancelearningproblems #virtualteacherproblems #igteachers #teachergram #specialedteacher #spedteacher #teachersfollowteachers #teacherssupportteachers

A post shared by Beth | Teacher Burnout Coach (@thebetterteacherproject) on

At first, we thought this is hard, but we can manage for a while. Now, we are thinking, will this ever end? We are grieving, and we are going through all of the stages. Sometimes we are angry. Sometimes we are in denial. But always, we just want to give our kids the answers that they deserve.

“I’m exhausted. That’s all.”

We are tired. We are working harder than ever. It’s so easy to beat ourselves up. That’s why it is so important for us to talk about how we are feeling. It’s amazing how much better we feel when we tell the truth: pandemic teaching is hard.

“The lunch I don’t have time to eat”

Yup. This is teaching in 2020. We are stressed, pressed for time, and consider ourselves lucky if we manage to actually eat lunch let alone wash our hair! I don’t know what I’d do without dry shampoo.

“Last week I felt as if I was drowning”

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#Teachertired The last couple of weeks transitioning back to having students face-to-face five days a week, along with half of my class still remaining at home, has been beyond a struggle. Last week I felt as if I was drowning. I could actually feel the pressure on my body. As soon as I finish planning and getting materials finished for one week I have to immediately start on the next in order to keep up. This is often the look of my desk, no matter what I’ve accomplished that day and I often do not feel like an effective teacher. But I am grateful. Grateful to have a job. Grateful to have educational assistants to help me. Grateful for (mostly) understanding and helpful parents. I’ve been at this for nearly 11 years now and I’ve found some ways to keep my sanity and find some peace in this crazy, chaotic profession. 📚there will ALWAYS be more than can be done! So do what you can and leave the rest for another day. 📚have a master list of things that you need to work on 📚at the end of the day, write a list of the top 3-5 things that you need to accomplish the next day. Get them done (and maybe pull from the master list) or have them at the top of the list the next day. 📚this may not be easy- but leave work at the door. The stress, the worrying- don’t bring it into your personal space. (Or at least limit how much you do bring it) 📚find a passion outside of school and pursue it with as much heart as you give teaching 📚take care of your health (emotional, physical, and mental). You can’t pour from an empty cup What are other things that you have found to help you through the stress of teaching?

A post shared by Sarah Morehead (@sarah.morehead) on

Piles of papers. A messy desk. Thank you for keeping it real, and reminding us to listen to our bodies. It’s easier said than done, but we have to take care of ourselves.

“A new kind of teacher tired”

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A New Kind of Teacher Tired 😴 Was this anyone else’s face at the end of the school day? It definitely perfectly describes how I feel. We are remote, learning via zoom for a portion of class and independent work the rest of that time. We are also this year doing a block schedule. So if you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, or how things are going, I think this picture sums it up! Teaching from home, the gaming room more specifically if you notice the posters…it has a dual monitor desk top. 😂 I have two new preps: a high school mentoring class and AP Biology. With general biology I taught the year before last being my third prep. I would say in terms of workload this is rivaling my first year teaching! How is your school year going? #teachertired #remotelearning2020 #remoteteaching #highschoolscienceteacher #apbiologyteacher #biologyteacher #scienceteachersofinstagram #scienceteacherlife

A post shared by Ms. Mason (@teachscienceandread) on

Teaching in an entirely new way with entirely new tools during an unprecedented global pandemic is physically and mentally exhausting. If you are going to sleep at 8:00 on a Saturday, us too!

Social media is usually a highlight reel. We share pictures of our beautiful classroom, our well-organized planner pages, and our successful assignments. While I love getting ideas from other teachers on social, this year what we need most is what’s usually not pictured: teachers getting real about pandemic teaching is the hardest thing they’ve done. When we share our vulnerability with each other, it helps us feel less alone.

How are you holding up? Please share in the comments! And subscribe to our newsletter to get more articles like this.

Plus, check out Check In On Your Teacher Friends, Because We Are Not OK

Posted by Julie Mason

Julie Mason is a Senior Editor at WeAreTeachers. She taught middle and high school English, and is a blended and personalized learning instructional coach. She loves reading a book in one sitting, good coffee, and spending time with her husband and sons.

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