This Year Has Been Brutal for Teachers. Here’s How It Changed Me.

This Year Was Brutal on Teachers – 5 Lessons & 5 Ways I'm Moving Forward

2020 was a year no teacher will forget anytime soon. With just 48 hours’ notice, we pivoted to complete online teaching as a global pandemic raged. We adapted to technology challenges, an instant demand for virtual teaching skills and more, all while balancing our personal lives, from parenting to quarantining, at the same time. It taught us valuable lessons most of us will carry through the rest of our careers.

For me, it also helped form my goals for moving forward. I see my priorities more clearly now and I’m committed to putting self-care at the forefront of my work-life balance.

5 Crucial lessons I learned from a year of pandemic teaching:

You can’t make it through a year like 2020 without learning some hard lessons. Here were mine:

  1. I can be flexible and change plans quickly.
  2. Students come before curriculum.
  3. If I don’t take care of myself, I can’t give to anyone else.
  4. My students depend on me, even if they don’t show it.
  5. Teachers are essential workers and we deserve to be treated as such.

5 Goals for moving forward:

Those lessons guided me in setting new goals and priorities. These changes have not only greatly benefitted my mental health and quality of life – they’ve also made me a better teacher and a more effective advocate for my students.

#1 I’m drawing even clearer boundaries.

I’ve stopped working all hours of the weekend and evenings. This is for myself, my family, and my own mental peace of mind. And it’s also to show others that I have a life beyond “teacher” that matters, too.

#2 I’m making my friendships with other teachers a priority.

Things are different now with so many of my teacher friends working from home, and everyone needing to be socially distant. But I’m working to recreate our former rituals, and show my friends I value them, to the best of my abilities. No, we can’t lean in close and whisper stories in the hallway between classes, but we can keep a text chain going. And we can still have coffee hours after the last bell rings even if it’s on Zoom.

#3 I’m putting my students’ mental health above academics.

We are just starting to discover the deep and devastating effects pandemic living has had on our kids. With this in mind, I won’t jump back into being the type of teacher who can’t give a kid a little more time, or to understand if they need to do a quiz on a different day. Their mental health has moved to the forefront of my priorities, and I will keep it there.

#4 My lesson plans are now flexible and adaptable.

We learned that with hardly any notice, we may need to adapt, move, or cancel entire lessons or portions of them due to pandemic constraints. I’m now focusing on making lessons that can be done independently, possibly recording portions of our curriculum ahead of time, or creating space in our calendars for shifts in plans. The flexibility 2020 required is a good skill to continue growing.

#5 I ask for what I need.

“Unprecedented times” have called for more innovative and flexible solutions. Need a professional day to plan? Or a computer mouse that works for more than an hour? Or a PD on the new software? Admins can’t read our minds, so if I need something I’ve started asking for it. The worst they can do is say no.

Come join us in the Empowered Teachers community for more teacher goals and inspiring conversation!


This Year Was Brutal on Teachers – 5 Lessons & 5 Ways I'm Moving Forward

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Alexandra Frost

Alexandra Frost is a freelance journalist and high school publications teacher in Cincinnati, OH. She's worked with other publications such as Glamour, Women's Health, Reader's Digest, and more. She has three young sons under age four and has been teaching high school for ten years. She encourages her students to develop communication skills, independence, and a passion for writing in their authentic writers' voices. To connect or read more of her work please her website or follow her on social media: Twitter Instagram Linked In.

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