“This year just feels different.”
You have no doubt heard this sentiment expressed by educators in your circles over the past few months as everyone tries everything in their power to get students back on the right track. Teachers are helping students complete two years worth of learning growth in the span of one school year and reintegrating into the school community a historically large number of students who have now experienced trauma and interruptions to their socialization at key ages.
This year doesn’t just feel different - it is different. Research from the RAND Corporation shows that “nearly one in four teachers said that they were likely to leave their jobs by the end of the 2020-2021 school year, compared with one in six teachers who were likely to leave, on average, prior to the pandemic.” Littera’s own Brian Miller is one of those teachers.
“I love teaching,” Miller says. “I love children, and I truly felt being a teacher was my calling.” Brian taught sixth-grade history to a group of over one hundred students in the Bronx in his last school year before considering a career pivot where he could remain an ally. “The stress got to me. The stress of not knowing if the next week of school would be virtual or in person, the stress of wondering if my family would be exposed due to the nature of my work, but mostly, the stress of adequately serving my students' needs, particularly those with IEP’s. I simply did not have the resources to provide my students with what they needed.” Miller says that he believes teachers do what they do because of their love for kids, and that love never left him. “The stress of not being able to help was unbearable.”
Brian is not alone in his story. Many teachers find it difficult to continue with the current trajectory while maintaining any semblance of normalcy in their personal lives. The physical exhaustion and emotional toll of the classroom are palpable. Teaching was a stressful job before the pandemic. On a good day, the stakes are high and teachers have the power to build and shape futures. The reward of impacting a student’s life is not only worth the stress, but many would argue the stress is what motivates them to work late into a Sunday to ensure lesson plans are perfectly suited for every student in their class. The stress has always come from the love for the students.
“In January of 2020, like everyone else, I had no idea that the world would change forever because of the coronavirus.” Kanecia Hodo is a Regional Director for Littera, but previously taught elementary and middle school English Language Arts, Reading Intervention, and English to English Language Learners in North Carolina. “My school, like many others, closed by February due to the potential threat of this virus. For the remainder of that year, I used technology to deliver instruction and give my students additional support to help them overcome the learning challenges.” The following year, Kanecia also left the classroom to pursue a new career path in the world of education technology where she believes she can continue to help students. “I joined Littera to help all students get access to high-quality academic support,” Hodo says.
Students need and deserve both emotional and academic support. Teachers are doing their best to provide it, but while the number of students needing emotional and academic support grows, the number of adults who can provide these services in schools continues to shrink. We share Brian and Kanecia’s story not to paint a picture of doom and gloom in teaching, but rather to show teachers that in this new world that we live in, they are far from alone in feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or insecure about the quality of their work. We also share their stories in hopes of helping administrators recognize where they can better support their teachers.
The wish for many teachers this year is to have more support in the classroom for their students. School counselors and teachers simply don’t have the hours in a day to provide all of them with the time and attention they need. This desire to provide students with the social, emotional, and academic support they need and deserve drove both Brian and Kanecia to join Littera Education.
Our Academic Support Platform would have enabled them to focus on students’ social and emotional needs, when those needs were the most salient barrier to their learning, with the knowledge that they’d be able to receive the academic support necessary to stay on pace with their learning goals. They would have provided equitable access to high-quality, high-dosage tutoring to every one of their students in a one-to-one or small group setting perfect for fostering that socio-emotional growth. The flexibility of the platform would have allowed tutors to provide support using the same curriculum they used in their classrooms, allowing their students to participate in the class discussion the very next day, without missing a beat.
“It truly does take a village,” Hodo says. “I would have loved to have had Littera as part of mine.”