Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

Soon to be West Chester Alum Alexa Logothetis did not know what she was getting herself into when she entered The Upper Darby Kindergarten center in fall 2020. The most exciting thing about being a teacher is engaging with students in the classroom — except, what if the classroom is online? Logothetis did not receive your typical student teaching experience — instead of the joy of the new adventure,overwhelming emotions was all that was given in return. Logothetis stated, “I was beyond overwhelmed.” The expression that lies upon her face as she sits across from me tells a story all by itself.

The pandemic has taken its toll on everyone throughout the span of almost two years. Teachers have become burned out from attempting to keep students academically on track. Students have been the main focus of not only falling behind, but mentally suffering from the effects of online learning. The forgotten heroes, teachers instructing during the pandemic, are mentally drained from the online learning environment. Teachers all across the nation have become overwhelmed. 

March 2020 was a time that will never be forgotten. The world as we knew it came crashing down. Many were out of jobs, financially struggling to get by for the month. Kids were falling behind in school — and most importantly — teachers were burned out. Teachers were thrown into the unknown, realizing that they must put on a face of positivity for their students, but deep down knew that life as they knew it had changed forever. Online learning was a nightmare, as Logothetis has mentioned. Fearful of what life would look like, teachers went into panic mode. In Octo. 2020, Psychiartriki conducted a study stating that “34% of teachers in the survey expressed a high degree of fear during the pandemic.” Emotional discomfort was a prominent feeling in teacher’s daily lives, causing fear to take over their personal lives.  

In normal times, teachers have never been more eager to teach in the classroom atmosphere to be able to see their students continuing to succeed. As the pandemic has taken the enjoyment of teaching out of every aspect of life, teachers are not as eager as usual. There was no excitement in an online learning environment, as Logothetis stated, “I would say the hardest part was not being able to physically see my students in person and get to know them on a personal level.” 

“Teachers must acknowledge their anxiety and what they are feeling,” says Sharon Kelly, a psychologist located in the West Chester area. If it goes unnoticed, it can lead to a numerous amount of problems later in life. 

Stressed, overwhelmed and panicked — teachers have been hit with not only the stress of online learning, but the stress of uncertainty in the world around us. Logothetis states, “And I was worried about what the future would look like. I was constantly saddened by what I was missing from normalcy.” Teachers are transitioning through an uncertain period of time in terms of their personal and professional lives.                       

“Everything has just been more amplified,” says Sharon Kelly, “anxiety and depression are way more intense due to the pandemic; you know the pandemic affected everybody across the board.”  

The mental health of teachers took a huge toll on the education system. According to Education Week from May 2021, Liana Loewus writes “84 percent of teachers surveyed at the research center stated that the teaching profession is much more stressful than it was before the pandemic.” The atmosphere of online learning not only negatively affected teachers, but the students as well.  

Third-year teacher at Garnet Valley school district Jordyn Leone finds herself feeling the urge to discuss the trauma. When asked the question over the phone, a small pause occurred on the call. Leone stated, “The whole experience really messed with my head, but I think it’s good to share what we went through.” She paused, then said, “You never know who is going through the same thing or at least can relate to what you are feeling.” 

Our schools are constantly putting an emphasis on providing resources for children suffering from mental illnesses, but teachers also have a high chance of suffering from these illnesses as well. Mental illnesses have gone unnoticed even before the pandemic began, making teachers feel neglected. In the Education Week article from May 2021, Gewertz explains “how 6 in 10 employees experienced symptoms of mental illnesses in the past year.” Most never mentioned anything to their schools, but it goes without saying that teachers’ mental health is overlooked.  

Although the pandemic has caused a negative impact on many aspects of our lives, some positive things have arisen for teachers staying home remotely during the pandemic. Since the switch to remote learning happened so fast and unexpectedly, many were not used to being around their families all day long. Many teachers with children enjoyed the idea of being around their kids or their families, as Logothetis states “One good thing that came out of quarantining was the ability to be around my family.”     

Passion, anger and confusion — everyone can agree, the effects are something that will never be escaped. Short term effects are still in the presence of everyone who lived during these horrendous times – but what about long term? A study conducted by the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2021 found that 48% of all women exhibited symptoms of either depression or anxiety due to the pandemic that will continue to impact them into the near future.  

As the pandemic has run its course, the world is in a stage of healing. For teachers, their healing process will consist of finding their love for the career they once dreamed about again.  

Leone explains, her face filled with no emotion, “Things can only get better from here on out.” And that is something that we can all agree on.  

Kelly Logothetis is a second-year Secondary Education English major.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *