The beginning of a new school year is always an exciting moment. There’s so much potential in the air. So many possibilities for learning, new discoveries, and accomplishments to be made, there really is nothing quite like it. Of course, for many teachers this feeling has been slightly dampened by the continued presence of COVID-19. Like so many of you, I had hoped that 2021 would be different, and while some gains have been made against COVID, the rise of the Delta Variant means we’re probably in for another long school year.

So, what now?

Yes, the situation can seem daunting, but I have no intentions of giving up! If I’ve learned anything from educators, it’s that we’re a tough bunch with grit to spare. I’d also like to share some advice to other educators who may be feeling the pressure of another semester under COVID. Here are a few things you can do to push back against those negative thoughts and step into the new school year with confidence. Don’t worry, you’ve got this:

  • Take Precautions: What can you personally do to make sure that you, your students, and your peers remain safe and healthy this school year? Perhaps you could spend a few lessons teaching your students how to Prevent the Spread of germs and ensure they’re practicing good hygiene. You could also have them dive into the history of vaccines to gain better understanding of the current situation. The steps you take may be small, but even these can help keep your students (and their families) safe.
  • Make a List: As VAI’s Ben Talsma has mentioned before, reflecting on why you became a teacher can be a great source of inspiration and therapy. Take a packet of post-It notes and write down the Top 10 reasons why you entered education. Keep going until you’ve got a list of things that make you proud to be an educator. By reflecting on these, you can give yourself fuel for the new semester and refocus on what matters in your classroom.
  • Fight Learning Loss: Learning Loss, Instructional Loss, Unfinished Learning…whatever you call it, the 2020-21 school year has left its mark on the learning process! But rather than focus on the negative, take this opportunity to reimagine what instructional practices can look like in your school. Leverage the lessons learned from pandemic teaching and embracing authentic educational experiences to accelerate learning and close the gaps. You don’t have to do this alone either, VAI can help your school build its own customized recovery plan.
  • Take Time to Rest: This COVID marathon is turning out to be a lot longer than any of us expected. As such, it’s important that you take time to refresh yourself when necessary. The last thing any of us needs is teachers struggling from burnout. Commit to spending at least one hour doing whatever helps you detox from the day. Trust me, your brain will thank you!
We’re All in This Together

2021 looks like it’s going to be another tough year, and I think we can all agree that sucks. It’s ok to feel frustrated by this knowledge. If you need to take a moment throughout the day to process your feelings, then by all means, take it. But don’t let yourself fall into despair. We’ve made ground against COVID and many people like you are doing their part to ensure this pandemic comes to an end. After what we’ve been through already, know that you can tackle any challenge which comes your way.

Trust us, you’ve got this!

Looking for more ideas to reinvigorate your classroom this year? Be sure to check out our free strategies and resources at!