NewsLocal News


Why some teachers are staying in the classroom despite pandemic obstacles

teacher stress
Posted at 10:32 PM, Feb 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-08 09:13:57-05

TULSA, Okla. — The pandemic stress has been too much for some Oklahoma teachers leading many of them to leave the classroom in favor of other careers. But others are weathering the storm, for their students.

“This year is just a struggle," said Brittany Lee Davis, fifth-grade math and science teacher at Walt Whitman Elementary.

“It was pretty chaotic going into it," said Arnita Waldron, a second-grade teacher at Key Elementary.

Waldron, Lee Davis and Monica Musgrave are all current or former teachers for Teach for America in Tulsa. They’re all also teachers of the year at their respective schools.

As they and many others know, another year of the pandemic is taking its toll on classrooms.

“Kids that are coming into sixth grade and the last time they had a regular school year was third grade," said Monica Musgrave, a multiple disabilities special education teacher at Monroe Demonstration Academy.

Distance learning and other COVID-related issues led to learning gaps in subjects like reading and math. But these teachers said it's put students behind emotionally, too.

“Social interactions both with each other and with teachers, it’s like, definitely there are some things that kind of need to be retaught," Musgrave said. "Like, okay this is how, it’s been a while since we’ve been in school in-person, this is how you ask for something.”

Faced with huge obstacles, some teachers are going above and beyond to get students back on track. Whether it’s coaching a sport or, for Lee Davis, staying late after school just so she can help students she doesn’t even teach.

“So, even the relationship among students who aren’t even in my classroom, just to show them that a teacher is here for you, you know, us teachers we care about you," Lee Davis said.

For some teachers, the stresses of the pandemic have pushed them out of the classroom. Districts are plagued by staff shortages, sometimes canceling school for a day because there aren’t enough substitutes.

But for these teachers and others, they find a reason to walk into class every day - their students.

“We have to remind each other to push through for our students," Lee Davis said. "Because our students, they need us. And whether we know it or not we need them as well.”

“The biggest thing is if you love them and you want to see what’s best for them or future students that you’ll have, you can definitely push through," Waldron said. "And you have to have a heart for it.”

Teach for America has more than 400 educators and leaders across the Greater Tulsa area helping children living in underserved communities.

Trending Stories:

Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere --