The coronavirus pandemic presented unprecedented challenges for schools. Teaching became a juggling act. Educators were forced to navigate the never-ending stress of new local, regional, and national rules and the ongoing adaptation of their classrooms. A dizzying amount of flexibility was required. Materials, strategies, and techniques needed to reach students in-person, online, and in hybrid settings had to be adjusted on the turn of a dime.
As always, educators had to take into account different learning styles and preferences. Some students took to online learning well, but many didn’t. Teachers had to find creative ways of making school material interesting, engaging, and relevant (a task that is difficult enough during normal circumstances).
On top of the pedagogical demands, the emotional connections that are so central to meaningful teaching and learning shifted and changed as well. Teachers had to find new ways of developing and maintaining personal relationships with their students.
Finally, what was often lost in the mix was the fact that educators themselves struggled with the same stressors that all society had to cope with–namely, illness, fear, job demands, social isolation, financial stressors, and rapid social changes.
Most teachers have been able to adapt to these new stressors and realities, and have, in turn, been able to help their students adapt. The job, however, is far from finished. Two major tasks await educators in the fall of 2021: weaning children off their increased use of screens and social media, and addressing the anxiety and depression that have increased precipitously among children and teens.
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