Despite two years of disrupted pandemic learning, educators hoped that this past year schools would return to normal—as if remote learning, hybrid schedules, and wearing masks would stop, and it would suddenly look like school again. At least that’s what they told us—probably because everyone was desperate to move past the pandemic that shut down the world.
The problem is that it did happen, and it impacted all of us differently. Obstacles to learning existed before the pandemic, but two school years amplified them. While some could cope and adjust to the new standards and remote learning, many people—often the most vulnerable individuals in society—did not adjust.
While a handful of students flourished with the flexibility of distance learning, many desperately missed the structure and support that “normal school” provided.
I have talked to many peers who say, without hesitation, that this past year was their most challenging year of teaching. This response is standard, regardless of the years of experience, regardless of the age of the students, and regardless of urban, suburban, or rural districts. This past year was tough, and teachers struggled to see much hope.
It is time that we acknowledge that the world of education has a Quit Point problem. While we learn to live with the realities of COVID, the world of education begins to deal with the ramifications of our Quit Point pandemic.
One common theme is that many students do nothing. I’m not talking about a lack of engagement. Several students have simply stopped attempting any learning activities. They don’t participate in lessons. They refuse to take quizzes or tests. I’ve even seen students ignore discipline from administrators and walk back to class.
It is extremely disheartening as an educator and disruptive to any learning culture. Likewise, teachers are walking away from the profession because they don’t feel valued and effective.
So what can we do about it?
Finally, we can support our peers in education, starting with ourselves. A colleague last year reminded me that her word of the year was “grace.” I strive to be the best version of myself daily. That “best” varies based on the external factors that impact my work and personal life.
Checking in on our peers, seeing them first as individuals, and providing support will make it a little easier to get through difficult stretches in the upcoming school year. If we are going to make strides, we as educators need to acknowledge the problem and utilize strategies to overcome our Quit Points.