The national conversation about coming back from COVID-19 has been dominated by students, and for good reason. Many kids haven’t done any real schoolwork in over a year and a half. That doesn’t even touch on the social aspects that were lost due to distance learning. I have written several pieces about how students aren’t going to necessarily come back ready, and teachers need to have patience. With that being said, students may need to show us some patience in return because teachers have fallen behind, too.
Because kids haven’t been in school, teachers haven’t been teaching them … at least not the “normal” way. All over the country, teachers have gone more than a year without managing students and delivering content the way they did before. If last year was a teacher’s first year, then there is a good chance this will feel like those teachers “real” first year.
I had an interaction with a student today that highlighted just how out of practice I was:
He had asked to go to the bathroom. 15 minutes later he was yelling at me because I reprimanded him for being out too long and skipping with his friend. He deserved the consequence, and he will get over it but I thought back about the incidentss leading up to it and realized that I should have seen the warning signs. He had looked out the classroom window to the hallway before asking to go, which means he obviously saw his friend in the hallway. I heard a locker slam about a minute after I let him in the hall, which was probably him getting his phone. This student had already gained a reputation for hanging out in the bathroom. I also completely forgot he was out there after two or three minutes. Additionally, I typically don’t let students go during times when I am delivering content for precisely that reason because it is hard for me to keep track of who is out during that time.
I have watched other veteran teachers make uncharacteristically rookie mistakes since they have been back, too. When you combine that with the fact that there are plenty of actual rookie teachers, kids and parents probably aren’t getting the best service a school has to offer at this time.
This isn’t to say that we should go back to e-learning or that teachers are bad for not being able to pick up right where they left off. It’s just to say that they have areas to work on, too. It’s great that we are committed as a country to catching students up from the long coronavirus layover, but it is important to remember that they aren’t the only ones with some redeveloping to do.