Teachers balance work and home life

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Kamm Kojima

As we navigate towards a normal school year teachers are exhausted all over the nation. Na Pueo asked teachers what word best describes this year.

Teachers are known for working beyond school hours. This past semester, teachers navigated balancing classroom standards, added responsibilities and their personal lives.

According to the think tank RAND, more teachers are debating leaving their teaching job during the pandemic. Before COVID-19, one in six teachers were likely to depart from the profession. However, in the school year of 2020-2021, one in four teachers are leaving this occupation, partly due to fatigue. Mid-Pacific teachers said they too are feeling exhausted.

“There’s this general fatigue that has taken over the whole campus, where both teachers and students are still mentally and physically exhausted,” Teacher A said. All teacher names have been removed and quotes used are anonymous to protect staff from retaliation.

There’s this general fatigue that has taken over the whole campus, where both teachers and students are still mentally and physically exhausted.”

— Teacher A

Most occupations had an increased amount of work due to the pandemic. Educators were no different.

“I’m doing more work at home than I have in past years of teaching, but I feel like I’m able to be consistent in what I’m offering my students. It’s just taking more work to do it,” Teacher B said.

Teachers are fatigued from having to constantly adapt to changes from weathering conditions because of COVID-19, new grading policies, additional rules or giving assignments.

“It just seems like there’s not enough time and there isn’t enough time,” Teacher C said.

Teachers voiced to administrators how this past year and semester was strenuous for them. With their voices heard last year more days off were granted. With feedback from teachers, this past semester administrators canceled Friday meetings and granted a mental health day.

“Dr. Turnbull and the senior leadership of the school has given days, paid days off,” High School Assistant Principal of Academics Christel McGuigan said.

Although everyone is adapted to this new reality, adjustments are frequent.

“It felt like every time you sort of got your footing, something would shift again. And some of those shifts were for the better, that you guys can eat outside, and can eat with your friends, but it was just a lot of catching up for teachers to feel like they knew exactly what was going on,” Teacher B said.

There is no manual on how to effectively educate in the middle of a pandemic. In an attempt to write one, Mid-Pacific’s administration team collaborates with other school leaders seeing what works for them and what doesn’t.

“We are going to make mistakes. We are going to make decisions that aren’t going to work well because we don’t know [the] best practice for creating school in a pandemic,” said McGuigan.

Some teachers said they were fine with the changes implemented in recent years.

“I just take it as a matter of course. I appreciate what we have now,” Teacher D said.

Others found it difficult to manage the newly implemented or discarded obligations. During office hours teachers have to multitask between different groups of students all at once.

“[Sometimes] I have two different classes in my room including my homeroom and my office hours on Zoom simultaneously,” Teacher C said.

Administrators realized that lunch duty added less time for teachers to work during school hours. In response, a period eight was added to give teachers three preparation periods.

“Now they have a third prep period and one [lunch period] cycle out of the four,” McGuigan said.

Teachers said they needed more time to prepare a lesson, schedule for the next week, grade and complete other aspects of their job.

“Almost every night, during a school night, I’m working at home from 9-midnight,” Teacher E said.

However, Teacher B recognized taking care of their children at home adds more to their plate.

“I sort of schedule it out so it’s never an overwhelming amount where I have to do six hours worth of work when I’m not on campus, but I do a little bit to keep up so it doesn’t have to become that way,” Teacher B said.

Despite how teachers feel, some students saw no significant change in teacher’s performance this semester.

“Most teachers do a good job at keeping their energy levels up and coming to school with that same mindset that you want in a good teacher,” senior Lukas Mathews said.

Teachers noted that their job doesn’t need to be easy, but they need support.

“It shouldn’t be easy, it should be a struggle, but a supportive struggle, not a fabulous failure,” Teacher C said.