Today is World Teacher’s Day and this year’s theme is “Teachers at the Heart of Education Recovery.” The United Nations picked that theme in a nod to teachers’ Herculean efforts in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
We asked Sister Kristen Forgotch, ASC, a second-grade teacher in Pennsylvania, about life in and outside of the classroom in the era of Covid-19.
- How are your students coping in the era of Covid-19?:
The students in my second-grade classroom this year have never had a normal school year. They left in March of kindergarten due to Covid. Their first-grade year was a mix of in-and-out with a mask due to Covid and here we are in second grade, still in masks and uncertainty.
- What have you learned while teaching in Covid times?:
With all of the extra things that are being asked of us teachers during this time, Covid has taught me after nine years in the classroom, the importance of taking time for myself and self-care. I have learned to turn my brain off of school things during most weekends and evenings so that I can return fresh to school for my students the next school day.
- What gives you joy despite the struggles in the classroom?:
After nine years in the classroom, I have learned to see the joys in the small things. Seeing the smile on a child’s face when they understand something they have been struggling with, seeing the joy of a child learning something new, getting an email saying how appreciative a parent is for what you have done for their child, or sharing with parents how a child has improved through a school year. The small joys make all the struggles worthwhile.
Another source of joy in this Covid era are the days when all students have returned in person after periods of time when students were mixed virtual and in person.
- What has been especially challenging?:
In the back of my mind, I worry about keeping my students healthy as well as those who I live with in community and the need to teach to kids on a computer at home while also teaching kids in the classroom. With these things going on, I often find myself exhausted at the end of the week.