The Bewildered Beast

Image of a bewildered beast
“The Bewildered Beast” by Nicole Rimes

Teaching and learning in the era of COVID (provided you haven’t retired, resigned, or been side tracked with the virus) has likely left you completely and utterly bewildered. Symptoms include exhaustion, disorientation, and lapses in memory (inability to recall the day of the week, names of loved ones, and what colleagues look like without masks). Perhaps the most frustrating of this “bewildered beast” syndrome is attempting to do what’s right given shifting politics over responses to the virus, public sentiment being hurled at educators via social media, and the growing list of legislation meant to provide more transparency for parents and ratcheting up pressure in an already stressed time for education.

Over the last two years, I have watched veteran educators retire mid-year. I have seen newly hired teachers “jump ship” to other districts for more money after only weeks on the job. I have seen disgruntled parents angrily speak out at school board meetings. The educational miracles that I saw teachers perform online in the Spring of 2020 were followed by anxious classrooms in the Fall of 2020. No one knew for sure what would happen with COVID among students and staff absent a vaccine. 2021 saw rising confidence with vaccines, some educational progress and school buildings retooling scope & sequence and interventions to hammer home the essentials that students missed in 2020. Schools were hopeful of the progress being made.

And then came the full bewilderment.

Schools and teachers that had been heralded for providing the best they could during the pandemic came under attack for teaching CRT, undemocratic teachings, and subversive counter cultural content. I have not seen ANY of those lessons, content, or teachings in the district where I work. I have not seen content of this nature being taught in the school district my children attend. I have not seen content of this nature being taught anywhere in my county. My guess is, most educators haven’t seen content of this kind being taught in their schools either. Enter the “bewildered beast” syndrome. A near endemic condition in schools in America today in which the educational efforts and lessons do not seem to match what many in the public believe we are doing. In this almost “Twilight Zone” like existence, I wouldn’t blame any teachers, administrators, or school board members for experiencing the same bewildered symptoms that I myself have experienced over the last two years.

This is a simple reflection. It’s not an indictment of what’s right or wrong. How and where people consume their daily news and information influences their thoughts in unique ways. This is just an exhausted observation that regardless of the influences that have led to this bewildered state, I truly hope that we can all be a little less “beastly” in our efforts to bewilder one another, and a little more sympathetic to how difficult this pandemic has been to all of us.