How a Pandemic Can Change the Way We Feel About Teaching (With tips for coping)

Updated: Nov 8, 2021

I have been passionately speaking about educator engagement and how connected they feel to their professions for several years, and I also address it extensively in my upcoming book, Reignite the Flames. The impact of educator engagement can be significant, and we could discuss how it affects climate and culture, innovative and divergent thinking, or even student achievement. However, for me, when I disengaged my decision to re-engage had its roots in a very basic human need: to be happy.

But those were normal times. And we aren’t in normal times right now.

Right now, during the pandemic, the goal is coping. Anything beyond that would be extra. And my fear is that along with all of the other impacts we will see from the pandemic, we will also see a sharp decline in educator engagement. People either emotionally or physically leaving the profession at record rates as the uncertainty and educational triage (coined by Philip Pulley) continues.

The first step to being able to cope or heal is to be able to name what is happening. Engagement and disengagement are on a continuum. A slide in disengagement is natural right now as we struggle through the variety of challenges that have been set before us. However, in knowing what and how it can happen we can begin to develop strategies so we don’t fall too far. Below are the five causes of disengagement and how they relate to the pandemic:

Personal adversity Personal adversity is defined as struggles that are a result of something that happens in your personal life. During the pandemic, there are multiple reasons that you may pull away from your profession because you simply don’t have the bandwidth to devote your energies to all areas of your life at once. Right now, there could be concerns about sick loved ones or family members that have passed away. Even the fear of getting the virus can be overwhelming for some people. Personal adversity can also categorize situations where there is a volatile home life. The consumption of alcohol may increase as well as the likelihood of abuse. For some people, educators and students alike, school was a safe haven from these situations and they may no longer have a place to hide. Tip: Be sure to practice some sort of self-care, even though it may be difficult to fit it in. Do something you enjoy and take time to recharge even if you can only fit it in for five or ten minutes at a time. Find a free educator self-care course here. Of course, if you are in an abusive situation, please seek help immediately.