North Texas Testing Ground for Program to Help Teachers Cope With Pandemic Stress

Teach for America is participating in various North Texas districts

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North Texas schools are taking steps to help teachers get through both the pandemic and the emotional stress they're under to fight back against significant learning loss.

In 2019, Ann Rodriguez, a teacher at Dallas public charter school KIPP Pleasant Grove, discussed how getting students to talk about things that are bothering them helped improved academics.

If kids can't learn with emotional stress, can teachers educate with the weight of the pandemic on their shoulders?

Rea Foster leads Teach for America in DFW. Foster said the work teachers are doing during the pandemic is monumental.

When schools were closed and kids were going to fast food restaurants for WiFi and lawmakers bickered and changed their minds on reopening dates, teachers held it together. Like teaching virtually from their cars when the internet went out or going door-to-door to see their students who were struggling in Cedar Hill.

"We see them as essential workers who are working with coaches who can talk about what did you do for yourself today? Did you take a walk? Did you cook for yourself? What are you doing to make sure you can sustain yourself in this incredibly hard time?" Foster said.

Teach for America will try this out with their educators in North Texas for a year. They said 64% of their teachers have already signed up to participate in the program, which will have those coaches to check on them as well as web training and seminars. If all goes well, they will roll out the program quickly to schools across America.

"Teachers want to know their voices are being recognized when they're the ones in the classrooms implementing these strategies, taking these policies and actually implementing them," Fort Worth ISD school board member Quinton Phillips said.

This comes as many districts are looking at the learning loss kids are experiencing and pushing teachers to right the ship. Their approach is that every little bit to help the educators will help the students too. 

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