Teachers Experience, Share Shifts in Mental Health Throughout Pandemic

More grace needed during these difficult times


Betsy Fries

Nichols shares, “A huge help for me was that Blake offered child care for our kids when the lower school was remote. That was just so awesome because I wasn’t trying to juggle taking care of my kids and teaching online. When that happened, that was awesome.”

Bernadette Whitely, Opinions Editor

The transitions between RTLP to HTLP have been stressful for everyone, especially teachers. From constant schedule changes to managing work amidst a global pandemic, they have been feeling justifiably overwhelmed.

     English teacher Kate Nichols explains her anxiety surrounding the inconsistency and unpredictability of the school year: ìThis school year, at the beginning of the year when I had to get new classes up and going, get used to the schedule, and use the camera, I was pretty stressed out. I feel the same way with this new semester. It’s just a lot going on at once.î Along with the daily stress of COVID-19 and worrying that everyone is safe, adapting to unfamiliar learning and teaching systems became overwhelming.

     Fellow English teacher, Patrick Barry, describes the connection between a greater awareness of his well being and the messages that he tells himself saying, “Sometimes I’ll tell myself ‘you’re fine, you’re going to be fine’ and that is the story I like to tell myself, and maybe that is part of the desire to be the unflappable stoic. I would say that even in the last few weeks, I have been more challenged when I say things like that in my head, to really wonder. As if there is a counter argument or voice saying ‘Are you?’ And if you’re not, that’s ok. You’re allowed to have feelings and for things to be hard and maybe there is something to be said about bringing that forward as opposed to always having to seem put together for your students’ sake or your family’s sake.”

     Barry also expresses the importance of giving people more grace and being more understanding. He explains that focusing on taking care of yourself and those around you has become a priority in recent months: “I think I started reminding myself more often that whether it is a student in your classroom or a clerk behind the counter at Target, you don’t know what their experience is. We are all experiencing it together but differently so give some grace and try to be mindful that this is really hard. People need to be seen, need to be validated, need to be given some degree of grace.” 

     Everyone is experiencing extremely difficult situations, and although it may seem insignificant, having more understanding for those around you can be impactful.

    Due to the childcare Blake provided, Nichols didn’t feel so overwhelmed and could focus on teaching her classes online. Additionally, she has also enjoyed, “the fact that we have slowed down in terms of the class schedule and that little bit of time at the beginning of the day we didn’t have before.”

     She elaborates saying, “I love the slower pace. I have always had a bit of trouble with the frenetic pace sometimes at Blake… I really have appreciated that and I have found students even come into class 10 or 15 minutes early and just hang out and chat for a while. I think that is all really good.”