Matt Brolley: Teachers have responded to pandemic by reinventing the profession

As we turn the page into a new year, it’s customary to take one last look back at the year that was. Despite the challenges we faced, there still are many things for which to be grateful. If you have teachers in your family like I do (my wife, mother, brother and sister-in-law), you know that their profession has never been a typical nine-to-five job.

Before COVID-19 our teachers put in long hours in their classrooms, only to pack up bags of materials to bring home for their inevitable second shift. All of this to ensure they gave each student the best chance to succeed.

They shared joy when a student succeeded and felt pain and doubt when they didn’t.

Then introduce a global pandemic. Like many of us, our teachers were asked to reinvent their entire job, which was uncharted territory for everyone. This was on-the-job training, every day, at lightning speed. Theachers were asked to digitize their entire curriculum. Tests, assignments, grades, discussions, lectures must all be completed virtually on a new software with webcams, amid inevitable internet, video or audio disruptions. Teachers stepped up to develop a digital educational system that didn’t exist 12 months ago and their success in rapidly adapting to the situation should be commended and celebrated.

Some of our teachers performed from their empty classrooms, while others worked from a spare bedroom or corner of their homes (likely working alongside their own children and spouses). It has been incredibly inspiring to watch this transformation firsthand.

Teachers stepped up in a big way and transformed themselves into something new. The process can be a bit chaotic and stressful, causing many of our best teachers to contemplate career moves. This is because they are no longer classroom teachers contained within the four walls of a school. They are the sole producers, directors, writers and actors of their own live educational broadcast that airs for several hours each weekday for the foreseeable future. As if that is not enough, they manage and engage with each member of their student audience (and many times their parental audience) while putting on a brave face to keep students learning while so many unknowns continue to swirl about.

If you are doing your own year-in-review you, are likely concluding that this year has tested every aspect in our lives. It has been stressful and filled with incredible uncertainties,. Bt rest assured that when your student fires up the computer bright and early each morning, they are met by a dedicated and caring teacher.

If you have a teacher in your home today, seek them out for a warm hug and a thank you. I know I just did.

• Matt Brolley is Montgomery village president.