It’s 11:30 on a Thursday morning, lunchtime in an elementary school. A third-grade teacher circles her classroom, helping her students open their fruit cups and milk. COVID has closed the cafeteria, for now, so the students dine-in each day at their socially-distanced classroom desks. The teacher is patiently waiting for someone to relieve her so she may have her own lunch. It’s now 11:40, and lunch ends at 12:00. She continues to watch the clock: 11:42. . . 11:44 . . . 

Finally, the assistant principal rushes into the classroom. With so many teachers out due to possible COVID exposure, every available staff member is busy substituting in a classroom today. The teacher will need to remain in her room for the last 15 minutes of her lunch, eating at her desk behind a protective plastic shield. It’s illegal to not give a lunch break, she thinks, knowing the argument is pointless during these strange times. She hopes her students won’t need any more help opening their fruit cups, as she now doesn’t have time to pause her meal, put on her mask, and walk across the classroom. She eats at a record pace, finishing just before noon. The teacher expected to be able to use the restroom during her lunch break, but it looks like she’ll have to wait.   

Please keep praying for teachers. 

After lunch, she notices a student with his mask still on his chin. She asks him to please pull it over his mouth and nose. He pulls it over his mouth, but not his nose. “I hate these masks,” he starts to argue. “My dad says these don’t even work. Why do we have to wear these dumb things?” The teacher calmly repeats, “Please pull your mask over your nose.” The boy huffs in protest but adjusts the mask. The exhausted teacher moves on to her next battle.

Please keep praying for teachers. 

During the math lesson, her virtual students can’t seem to access the link she prepared late last night. The teacher realizes she made a mistake and hurries to try to fix it. A mom suddenly comes into camera view, “Why is this always happening?” She demands harshly, “This is so frustrating for my son.” Frustrating. Yes, the teacher definitely knows about that. She manages a brief apology, fixes the link, and then moves on to attend to the 15 in-person students, always in her classroom. Thankfully, the live students seem to be calm for the moment. She wonders if she could run to the restroom now.  

Please keep praying for teachers.   

At recess, she notices a group of girls with their arms linked. The teacher walks over to them, “Please play a game where you aren’t so close to each other.” She may not be able to see the frowns at their mouths, but the girls’ eyes don’t mask their disappointment. The teacher walks away and wonders for the thousandth time that day if she’s just done the right thing.  

Please keep praying for teachers. 

During her after school meeting, the math specialist presents on the latest test scores. “The data shows there are several second grade standards the students haven’t mastered. It is critical that they know these for the upcoming state assessment.” The teacher desperately would like to point out that the students all but missed half of second-grade math, but decides not to argue. “I’ll work on it,” she concedes graciously. But in her head, she wonders, When?

Please keep praying for teachers. 

While preparing dinner for her family, the teacher grabs her phone to quickly check her email. Another reminder to please maintain social distancing between staff members. No congregating in the hallways. Only speak to other staff members when necessary, and you must stay at least 6 feet apart. The teacher knows what a tough job this is to do alone, but it looks like she will have to keep toughing it out. Alone. 

Please keep praying for teachers.   

It’s 10:30 p.m. After putting her own children to bed, the teacher is finishing up the lesson for her virtual students tomorrow. She checks her work twice—she’ll be certain the links work this time. Before shutting down her laptop, she quickly checks her email one more time for today. Grades are due on Monday. Looks like she should cancel her plans for the weekend.  

Please keep praying for teachers.  

In 10 years of teaching, she’s had some rough years. But never, ever a year like this. With the new reality of hybrid teaching combined with the stress of a global pandemic, she wonders how much longer she can last.  

Please, keep praying for all of our teachers. They are being stretched and pushed more than in any time in history. They are only human and they need our support. Still.  

Please keep praying for teachers.  

Katy Dodds

Katy Dodds is passionate about wellness, building strong relationships, her faith in Jesus, and finding a healthy balance in life. She holds a Master’s Degree in Education, and currently teaches children with dyslexia. Katy lives with her husband, daughter, and two oversized dogs in The Woodlands, Texas.  Follow her on Instagram and Facebook.