New Teachers' Realities and the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the most pivotal moments in education, changing how we taught, what we taught, and how we think about education. New teachers for the past few years have not only had to transition to become a new teacher but handle the effects of the pandemic as well. This puts them in a unique position to understand the impacts of the pandemic and reflect on how to handle those impacts. To understand how the new teacher reality has been impacted by the pandemic, this study collected data through interviews with three new high school teachers and two veteran high school teachers who taught around the San Antonio metropolitan area during the pandemic. During a semi-structured interview, these teachers were asked to talk about the realities of being a new teacher, realities of teaching during the pandemic, and to reflect on the future of teaching following the pandemic. Using qualitative analysis methods, the researchers open-coded the data to identify themes and subthemes across all the teachers' realities and experiences. Findings suggest that the pandemic has overall had an exacerbating effect on many of the challenges new teachers face, as well creating some novel challenges for new teachers. Particularly, new teacher burnout, student behavioral issues, student knowledge gaps, and expectations placed on new teachers were created and were exacerbated by the pandemic. Novel challenges like the role and weight of relationships with students have been introduced. Preservice training institutions and schools should take steps to mitigate these challenges.