June 16, 2022

Things I learned teaching in 2021-2022

taken in March, before I left for the year

The end of the school year was a few weeks ago. I took both Wells and Sutton in to see my students on the last day. Only about half the class was there because most had left early for summer vacation and Wells caught a cold from someone he was playing with that day. Go figure. 

I really thought this year would be different than last. Last year was the height of covid. It was like living in the upside down compared to how teaching is supposed to be. But...I had a great year? I was just a long term sub, spending the first half of the year going class to class and most of the second half of the year teaching first grade. It left me with nothing but excitement to get back into a classroom of my own for 2021-2022. I got a job teaching in my former district here in Missouri, in my favorite grade level, and I was ready to get back to it. 

I thought this year would be different than last year. It wasn't, really. It was ... I don't know. 

To begin with, 'masks optional' became 'masks mandatory' in July and we were mandated into masks until the first week of March when the military base dropped them in indoor spaces. Until that point, the only time kids could take off masks was at lunch when they were physically eating. Yes, even running the mile outside for gym class and even at recess they were masked up (and so were we, as teachers). 

The year was spent cleaning surfaces (covid doesn't live on surfaces), keeping 3 ft between students almost at all times (why 3 ft?), and contact tracing for asymptomatic quarantining (5-21 days at a time, depending). 

I was constantly being gaslighted with others saying At least we're here! or It's better than the alternative!

What alternative? Virtual school? That shouldn't be an alternative. How dare we threaten shutting down and denying kids their right to a public education? On a military base, no less, to children of service members. How dare we say Pull your mask up 273 times a day or treat anyone with a cold symptom like a leper? They are children. Kids would apologize for coughing and sneezing. Can you believe that? 


In January, at the height of omicron, shutting the school down would have been preferable to the complaining I heard ("it's not safe for us to be here!"). They low-key threatened that shutting down was the next step because we had no substitutes and teachers were dropping out left and right (with colds, by the way, but they weren't allowed to work while sick). 

Again, it was like living in the upside down. This wasn't what was best for kids at all

Because of the after-effects of 1.5 years of failed policy, my students were far behind. Coming from all different school systems and countries and each of those had their own way of having dealt with covid. I had a few kids who hadn't seen the inside of a school since March of 2020, meaning they had no 3rd grade experience, and I was supposed to teach them at 4th grade levels and get them successfully to 5th. 

I barely made it through the year, personally. The challenges stacked against me were ...large. The dent I was making was small. 


What did I learn?

I don't think I learned anything I didn't know before. 

I learned could've used a bigger classroom. And a microphone. And curtains on my windows to block the insane sunlight that ruined my projection during whole-group reading every day between 11:30am and 12:15pm. I learned I could've used a curriculum that made sense and was user-friendly. I learned I could've used a regular SmartBoard instead of a Smart TV. I learned I could've used...eh, I could go on. 

What I did have was a great teammate who I will miss. Supportive and kind coworkers. A few sweet, sweet students. An aide who pushed into the classroom every afternoon for long enough for me to get a bathroom break. So, really, a few of the people and some of the kids are what I will miss. I will miss teaching, I'm sure, and I already kind of do. But it's this kind of teaching that I miss. I learned that that kind of teaching was something I actually had been missing all year long in 2021-2022. 


  1. Thank you for your candid summary. I feel for you and your students and applaud you for still trying to be positive and encouraging. What a shame that so many teachers fell to the propaganda and fear and therefore couldn't focus on on what was important in the classroom. Praying with all my heart that things get better in the world soon, especially in our country that is in shambles. Midterms can't get here soon enough! Happy summer for you and your sweet kiddos.

  2. I really really hope that we are back to normal school years for 2022-2023. It is so sad what we have done to kids over the last two years. So many mistakes were made and they seem so obvious? But I guess not, since they were continued to be forced upon everyone though this last school year.


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