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Teachers are burnt out, leaving many to question how long they can keep going

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Posted at 7:25 AM, Jan 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-17 09:51:45-05

Mary Rose Steele wonders how long she can continue in the profession she loves.

Like so many other educators, the high school math teacher is buried under a mountain of work and anxiety.

"If I stop and think about it, it’s worse than I let on, but I need to keep going," she said. "There are days I just lay in bed and struggle to get up."

Steele has spent 22 years teaching math at Algonquin Regional High School in Northboro, Massachusetts. She loves what she does, but the pandemic has proved to be exhausting.

"Every day, I question if I can stay. I’m just doing way more work than ever," she said. "We have very isolating jobs in general and I think a lot of people don’t think that because we socialize with students. But we don’t get to socialize with each other anymore."

That sentiment is shared by teachers across the country. 

Last week, half of Steele's students were out with COVID-19. 

With midterms approaching, Steele says the students are falling behind.

"I can’t imagine how hard it is to be a teenager right now and I work with them every day," she said.

It's estimated that one-in-four teachers are considering quitting their jobs.

"[Students] know the shell of the teacher I use to be," Steele said.
 
There are glimmers of hope that keep Steele going. She says each time a student finally figures out an algebra equation, she remembers why she fell in love with teaching.

"It's the students," she said.

This story is reported as part of an ongoing series "How are you doing?" where we check in with people from different walks of life to see how they’re handling the pandemic.