This isn’t about teacher burnout, although I first put pen to paper after a particularly grueling day at work. This is about how pandemic trauma manifests in America’s teens, how we see it in the high school classroom, and how it’s affecting a generation. I’ve heard many education-adjacent professionals suggest that teachers are struggling this year because Zoom got us out of the habit of “real” teaching. They imply that we educators used to be “better” (more proactive? more creative? more optimistic? more dedicated?), and if we again invoke these traits we’ll stop having difficulty reaching our students. This gaslighting just incentivizes teachers to suffer silently.

So although this isn’t about burnout, I can’t begin without emphasizing that every teacher I’ve talked to is in over their head this year. Nobody has a working solution. Before teaching, I spent eight years in the hedge fund industry as an analyst and manager, and I never took a mental health day. Last week, for the first time in my career, I took a day off because I just needed the break.

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<strong>Elissa Levy</strong>
Elissa Levy

I teach physics and computer science in East Harlem, New York. I aim to engage.