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Voices from the Classroom: Teachers on Teaching in a Pandemic

After months of working with students online and in hybrid settings, six teachers from across the country shared some valuable lessons they have learned about how to engage students and address academic and emotional needs during the pandemic. In Voices from the Classroom: Teachers on Teaching in a Pandemic, the teachers described the staggering logistical load of trying to teach both to students at home and in the classroom.

"Our bandwidth is already filled to the brim," says Takeru Nagayoshi, an English teacher teaching both remotely and in-person at New Bedford High School in Massachusetts. "This year it literally feels like we're doing brain surgery on a rocket, while making the rocket, and operating in multiple time dimensions." He is a Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellow, and the 2020 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year.

The teachers described the importance of emphasizing student social and emotional well-being at a time when many feel isolated by the pandemic. They also stressed the need to pay attention to their own well-being in this stressful time.

"Our biggest challenge is not losing the faith," says Shayna Boyd, a middle-school English and social science teacher teaching virtually at Ashburn Community Elementary in Chicago. "I worry all the time about not being able to reach them and about engagement." Boyd also helped developed policy recommendations for Chicago Public Schools through Educators for Excellence.