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The toll of the pandemic on teachers, A&M Central Texas training next generation of educators

Posted at 8:19 PM, Sep 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-16 21:19:35-04

The combination of in-person, hybrid, and remote learning styles on top of navigating through a pandemic has taken its toll on some teachers. Some choosing to leave the profession altogether.

Ovidia Molina, the Texas State Teachers Association President said, "Our teachers and educators across all districts are feeling the pressure."

The lack of planning surrounding COVID-19 is what's pushing educators out the door, according to Molina.

"It's the frustration of there being no plan for our schools, really, to keep us safe, and for our educators who do so much for our communities," said Molina. "If we had a plan by the state, by the Texas Education Agency to bring us back safely and ensure that we stayed in school safely, it would be different, but it seems that we have a reactionary occurrence, not even a plan. We just react to what's happening in our schools instead of having a plan."

Molina said the impact that COVID-19 has left on education is as clear as day.

"We're losing teachers, we're losing bus drivers, we're losing substitutes, you know, we're losing [and] every educator job is having an impact," Molina said. "We're all important and that's what the community, our state needs to show. It's respecting all the work that we do."

As a retired school principal, Jamie Blassingame, director of Field Experiences and External Partnerships at A&M Central Texas said, "It was a lot I mean to say again the learning curve especially for teachers who are near retirement age to learn new technologies very quickly. I think there’s a weirdness that came with that."

Blassingame works directly with students continuing their education who are currently working as interns in the classrooms. She is working with Dr. Shelley Harris, who is the Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at A&M Central Texas, to teach the next generation of teachers how to navigate this new world of teaching.

Harris said, "We have had to alter our teaching methods and strategies to incorporate more technology and to really show in teach how classes can be online how activities can be online, and building that community online, and really working with teachers to know that they might be doing both in the classroom. That involves time management and really just learning the nuances of both teaching face-to-face as well as virtually."

Harris and Blassingame facing new teaching challenges first hand, but still hoping to inspire the next generation of educators.

"I think those going into the profession, those that are thinking about the profession, those that are halfway in the program, stick through it, you are here for a reason. It's all about serving our students' needs, they might look a little bit differently," Harris said.

Blassingame said, "We have teachers coming up that will hopefully step into that void and continue to support the teaching profession."

Harris said their program is growing, so she's holding out hope.

"We're really excited about that. We welcome those within our surrounding areas and statewide to take a look at our website to give us a call. We have wonderful programs and wonderful faculty that are here to make that difference. We want to be the difference in our student lives and in turn, have them make a difference in the students that they encounter as well," Harris said.