We Asked Canby Teachers What It’s Like Teaching in the COVID Days. This Is What They Said.

The coronavirus era will be remembered for many things, from the extraordinary economic and daily life challenges it has brought to so many, to the quiet courage and incredible perseverance demonstrated by health care workers and first responders serving on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19.

We also do not want to forget or overlook the service of hundreds of Canby School District teachers, administrators and other staff.

In these unprecedented times, they have been asked to produce the same results — with almost none of their regular tools, and with training, experience and skill sets that don’t really fit their current circumstances or environments.

Public speaking, perhaps one of the most important skills a teacher can have, is now basically useless. Instead, mastery of the art of the cold call is what’s needed, as teachers have had to call individual families to re-establish contact and resume instruction — albeit at a distance.

It has taken grace and patience. It has taken creativity and sacrifice. It has taken, well, a lot of things, and the full enormity of it can only really be understood if you are a teacher yourself.

So, we asked them: “What is it like to be a teacher right now?”

Here is what they said.

I’m a substitute teacher, which sucks because I don’t get to work or get paid 😕.

That being said, I know regular classroom teachers (at least my child’s) are working their tails off providing various learning resources to families, calling students regularly, creating and working within Google classrooms which many have never done before, having virtual faculty meetings…and yet they don’t get to be with their kiddos.

I know some of them are dealing with grumpy and demanding parents as well, which I’m sure is rough on them. I get sad when I see people talk about them “getting paid for nothing” during this time. It’s definitely not true.

We are lost. We want to do so much for our students, whom I call “my kids,” but can’t. We can’t see them daily to check on mental status, personal care, academics and so much more.

While I get it — it is public school and everyone needs access — I am struggling because I want to see them and go over instructions, guide them on their personal level since these kids are not cookie cutters, and not every kid learns the same at the same pace. We are held to making cookie cutter materials.

Parents are stressed, depressed and some are dealing with excessive work demands while others are worrying about money. I am not just at home, living my best five-month summer. I am grieving. I need to see my kids (past and present).

I miss my hugs from my 1st-5th graders each morning. And I miss the question I used to hear every morning: “Can I come back to kindergarten?”

(Just a snapshot).

It’s like having your hand slammed in a car door over and over, but without all the good parts. That may just be Portland Public Schools, though.

It’s honestly the worst time in my 15 years of teaching… I miss my students like crazy and feel completely limited on resources. I miss being able to connect with my class. I am putting in more hours now than I ever did teaching in a brick and mortar school.

The way our administrator describes it seems to fit. We are flying in an airplane while building it at the same time. I miss my students and there are still so many unknowns. I feel like a brand-new teacher again, only worse.

I feel like what we are doing isn’t meeting the needs of our students. I am also a mom, so I am homeschooling my own child at a grade level I’ve never taught.

Basically, I feel like I’m doing nothing well.

I feel loss, grief, and stress over so many things. From, “Am I doing this even remotely right?” to “How are my kids hanging in there through all of this?” I worry about my teacher friends who have kids at home themselves and don’t have enough time to do all the tasks we are being asked to do.

My heart aches that I don’t get to see any little smiles everyday. I went into this to help kids and see their growth and happiness, and now I spend most of my day in virtual meetings making packets. This feels worse than year one of teaching!

Herding cats while the house is on fire, LOL. Have to adapt lessons and simplify for online, constant meetings online, respond to emails, give feedback, teach others and students how to use the technology, contact parents and more, while taking care of my kids and helping them do their homework.

I’ve never been so exhausted and stressed in my job before. Even more frustrating is knowing that we’re grading privilege. Not all students can do this work online, and some have massive restrictions. So frustrating!

It takes away everything that makes teaching worthwhile. Relationships are gone. Teachable moments are gone. Movement and hands-on learning are gone. Rewards and special events are gone. Building on what was done before is gone. (Thank the Lord state testing is gone.)

It’s hard. I’m at a small private school, and I’m thankful for that. I feel for public school teachers…lots of limbo waiting for district administration to make decisions.

I miss my students, but my phone rings from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. I get emails around the clock, I have multiple Zoom calls a week, I make instructional videos and lectures for every lesson.

I have had to re-create every lesson and come up with new ones to make them appropriate for distance learning. I worry constantly that my kids aren’t going to learn everything they need to.

I have three teenagers at home that I am helping. I have my 50-plus students I’m trying to teach online. I know their moms and dads have other jobs they need to do, and that they didn’t want to be teachers or home schoolers.

My school and admin team are so supportive. Anything we need, they get for us. I just can’t wait to be back in the classroom. It’s just overwhelmingly sad, but also, I have so much hope for when this is over.

I taught for 33 years. I’m retired. I don’t think I could handle the online teaching now. I took an online class last year, and the professor was awful. I have more sympathy now.

Very hard! Can’t even sleep thinking about all the things I have to learn before being able to do online. The most difficult part is thinking about the parents who are working so hard to help all their children at home.

My students are just amazing. I feel I am actually learning a lot about perseverance when I see how well most of them are responding: their effort and work ethic. I’m a very tired, but proud, middle school teacher!

I feel like my job did a twirl into a different career altogether. It. Is. Not. The. Same. While I go through the emotions of all of this, I wake at 6:30 to be parked at a makeshift area to “teach” from 8 to 4.

But finding balance, forget it. I just have one more thing to post, one more thing to do, because I feel as if it may make the students day a little brighter, a little more fun in the reality of our learning now.

I have parents new to all this too, and I want to be there to support them. What does it look like? Emails, posted replies by students, Zoom calls, phone calls.

I miss small groups and seeing the light bulb go off, I miss the high fives. Most of all I miss looking out of the class of children, seeing them smile, talk to each other. Laughing among each other and collaborating in an environment I know they thrive in, a community they helped build from the first day of school.

Instead, I am at a screen, making tutorial video lessons, posting to Google Classroom, sifting through assessments (and, really, what is the validity in all of this when stress in homes is so much higher right now?) and hosting virtual calls for small group and whole group instruction.

But I do find that my students are resilient. They smile and light up even when they see their peers virtually. I am finding my new normal.

I have had a roller coaster of emotions, but together, we will forge forward on finding gratitude in each new day. Focusing on the silver lining and staying positive. After all, that, too, is part of my job.

I am trying to find balance between meeting my own children’s needs, being a wife, and giving it my all for my students.

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