A Year in the Life of a Veteran Teacher: Insights from the Pandemic


  • Robbie Murphy


In May, 2020 Emma Goldberg wrote in the New York Times: "Teachers find themselves at the heart of the national crisis, responsible not just for children's education and well-being, but also for essential childcare as parents struggle to get back to work" (Goldberg, 2020). The pandemic of 2020-21 has shone a light on the many roles and relationships that make up the educational ecosystem in America. Newspaper headlines about schools, from March 2020 to the present day, have revealed an undulating emotional landscape as parents, teachers, administrators and policymakers, many with overlapping roles, grapple with the personal and systemic impacts of the crisis. Within a context of urgent need and fear, these stakeholders share a commitment to the education and to the physical-emotional well-being of students. But they also hold different views on how to cope, with their own needs, fears and priorities varying over time. For me, a veteran teacher of young children, this public debate about the essential work of elementary schools points, more than ever, to the importance of understanding the complex work of teachers.

In the first nine months of the crisis, teachers have been both beloved and maligned. In the earliest days, they were applauded as "heroes," capable of pivoting to remote learning and maintaining classroom community. Parents, new to the role of teacher...





Teacher's Voices