DonorsChoose is the funding site for public school teachers nationwide. Our team asked the educators who use our platform to share what school really looks like this year — and hundreds of teachers jumped in to tell their stories. Want the on-the-ground view of what’s happening this school year? Here are 10 voices you need to hear.
Students are looking for extra connection.
“The week before we started school, I was asked to teach virtually for the first semester. I’ve accepted the challenge with an open mind and willingness to learn. It has been a rollercoaster ride. Some days technology works perfectly, and some days it’s a nightmare. My students are amazing, and their parents are just as amazing. In fact, virtual teaching has been a great way to get to know parents much faster than I would have in the regular school year. They have been incredibly supportive in this journey. Sometimes, my students ask to stay online with me because they miss being in a classroom with friends and a teacher. My kiddos show up everyday ready to learn, and no matter how overwhelmed I’m feeling, I do my best to put on a smile for those kids. They deserve it. That said, I don’t want to downplay the fears that teachers have, the incredible amount of work that comes with virtual teaching, and the need for self care. Just having [the DonorsChoose community] to share with, and see how other teachers feel, is validating. It lets me know I’m not alone!”
— Crystal, Missouri public school teacher
Teaching Pre-K online is tough.
“I was scared to death of online teaching to brand new Pre-K students because it normally takes you getting them into your classroom to actually get them to focus. Trying to navigate through technology, get the children to actually participate, make sure everyone’s home area is okay…. It has really been stressful. I taught from home [at the beginning of the year] and my computer would freeze constantly.It has not been the best year ever. Now, our children are coming back. We still have to figure out a way to teach those babies remotely while teaching and reaching the children that are physically there. One good thing: Most of our parents have been ready and willing to help.”
— Kery, North Carolina public school teacher
Remember: You’re human.
“It’s been hard keeping our special education students motivated and focused. I have major anxiety every time something goes wrong, but I just have to remember I’m human. [My students and I] have been trying to practice patience and grace because technology issues have been happening from day one and continue to happen. The best thing for donors to know is that we all — from teachers to parents to students — appreciate them so much for having our backs.”
— Ms. S, New Jersey public school teacher
That never-ending stream of questions…
“Teachers are pouring their hearts and souls into their students. When children are in the classroom, we are in our element and forget about COVID because we want it to be as close to normal as possible. As soon as the day is over and the students are gone, reflection takes over and anxiety creeps back in. Were the kids socially distanced properly? Did everyone get enough mask breaks? Is that a tickle in my throat or is it from the wipes? Am I planned enough for tomorrow, much less next week? We take a deep breath and remember, we can do hard things. After all, we are teachers.”
— Donna, Florida public school teacher
Just keep teaching, even if it’s just to one student.
“I want donors to know that we are trying so very hard. Even when there’s only one student in my classroom with me and none online, I still teach to that one student as if he were a whole class. We plan for every possible scenario we can cover, reach out to help in every way we can, and at the end of the day it’s still rough knowing that it isn’t getting any better soon. Everyday for quite awhile longer is going to look like this.”
— Jeffrey, Pennsylvania public school teacher
Reimagining an entire career.
“We’ve had to reimagine our careers and become innovators for our craft. I have seen highs and lows from teachers and students. The joy of DonorsChoose is what adds to the good. It lifts us up. We have no idea how long this will last, but we are all riding the same struggle bus.”
— Rebecca, Arizona public school teacher
Students become experts in navigating new platforms.
“I teach virtually. This year is challenging, yet very rewarding. I teach 2nd graders and I cannot believe in less than 7 weeks they’ve learned how to navigate 8 different platforms! They haven’t mastered all 8, but they know enough to log on and do the assigned work. They always amaze me with their work ethic and ability to learn new platforms in order to continue learning. They discover new ways to make Zoom and Google easier for each other. I wish some of their internet connections were more stable, to avoid losing connection while I’m teaching. I want donors to know that learning is always going to happen no matter where my students are.”
—Doreen, California public school teacher
Never underestimate the power of a student’s smile.
“I feel completely inadequate this year. Remote teaching is hard, getting them engaged is hard, and there’s no money for any of the basics we need to help make this a smoother process. But, when my students turn those cameras on and I can see their faces, it just makes my day.”
— Stef, New York public school teacher
Kids are resilient.
“We are in-person for five shortened days a week. The kids have been champs adjusting to wearing masks and keeping their distance. We are all so glad to be back. When students shared their hopes and dreams for the school year, one student said she hoped we get to stay at school. Even though our year looks so different from past years, and we all miss the hugs, it’s amazing how resilient the kids are. The DonorsChoose community has done so much to make this all work for my students. We have individual supplies and each kiddo has a wobble stool, which helps with the amount of time we have to remain at desks and in our own space. I’ve also been able to get Teachers Pay Teachers gift cards and other materials [through DonorsChoose] to prep in case we need to go remote. We are so grateful for the support we’ve received to make this the best learning experience possible for the kids.”
— Emily, Maine public school teacher
We will not let this beat us.
“We returned to our school building this fall. Our school has changed in that we “distance” ourselves by staying pretty much with our own class. Every child has to have their own everything, and there is no sharing supplies. Still, we sing, we dance, we laugh, we love and we learn. We like to create, and we take care of each other. We will not let this beat us, and we will make this an amazing year no matter how we have to do it.”
— Anita, Wisconsin public school teacher