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Opinion | America’s Teachers Offer Answers to the Education Crisis

I made so many videos of my lessons, and the kids and parents told me they were good! I used my digital projector and my screen-casting app, and I recreated all my reading and writing workshop lessons. I was determined not to let my curriculum turn into memorization and answering meaningless questions. I still can’t believe I did it.

Lydia Austin, seven years teaching English language arts, currently at a public middle school in South Hamilton, Mass.

Much like the Great Resignation for adults, we are seeing kids pull away from school. They may or may not physically be there. Many aren’t willing to engage, even when teachers are being as innovative as they know how to be. That’s going to be very difficult to overcome.

Rebecca Ritenour, 23 years teaching English, currently at a public high school in Champion, Pa.

My students went from engaged and excited learners to dead eyes on a screen. The screen only intensified their adolescent feelings of being constantly judged, so I usually had the choice of dead eyes or no eyes at all. I’ve been concerned about my own health but also deeply concerned about the health of my students and their families. I think anxiety will remain with all of them for a very long time.

Tess Riesmeyer, eight years teaching middle school literature, writing and humanities at a private Montessori school in Pittsburgh

My biggest challenge during virtual learning was not being able to sit with students to finish important tasks like filling out financial aid applications for college. I work with high school students and had a handful drop out or have to spend another year in school because they started working full time during the pandemic. I had some leave their parents’ homes because of the stress of isolation, and some became parents themselves. Getting back to in-person learning has been good for their mental health and has allowed me to help with these transitions.

Laurel Cutright, four years teaching high school science at a Milwaukee charter school

It’s more important than ever for students to feel connected — to one another, to their teachers and to their school community. Look for opportunities to foster that connection.

Kora Wilson, 16 years teaching math, currently at a public middle school in Brooklyn

You know remote learning is going to leave the most vulnerable behind. Advocate louder for something different. And just because kids are back in person doesn’t mean everything is good. That was not the case this year or last. It has been truly challenging and not at all normal.

— Jo-Anne Smith, 27 years teaching first and second grades at public schools, currently in Waterbury Center, Vt.

Teaching was a second career for me, but I burned out and left in October 2021. I think it is very hard for the general public to understand how much stress the pandemic added to an already insanely stressful job. I am grateful for my years teaching and sad that they have ended.

Lisa Schroer, 12 years teaching math and computer science at public high schools, most recently in Kalamazoo, Mich.

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