BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of the teacher has changed. Many members of the profession said their job has become more stressful than ever.
"I have to teach them things that they've lost over the past two years on top of the curriculum, on top of the social emotional needs I'm dealing with every day. It's definitely a different profession these days," Jeff Orlowski, a math teacher at Kenmore East, said.
The National Education Association, the nation's largest teaching union, asked its three million members about their stress levels this past January. 90% said they are feeling burned out.
The teachers who don't feel burnt out are asking for support.
"lf somebody is burned out, they're done. I don't think we're done. I think we just need the community, our administrators, and parents to rally behind us to let us know that they're going to work with us and we're going to work with them," Amber Chandler, an 8th grade English language arts teacher at Frontier Middle School, said.
Teachers said there is a need for smaller classes and more socio-emotional resources for kids. They said the amount of trauma they are dealing with is skyrocketing.
"Us teachers in the classroom, if we have no where to send the kids that need the help, we take it on ourselves," Orlowski said.
"These are all things that are piling up. We say these things and our hearts go out to our students just every day. I don't know a teacher who hasn't cried over a student this year," Chandler said.
Teachers said they are also dealing with students who haven't been inside the classroom for a long period of time. That can cause them to slide back academically.
"You know my 8th graders, some of them have not really had a regular school year since 5th grade," Chandler said.
The mounting pressure between school districts and parents over mask mandates is also being felt in the classroom.
"It's stressful. We have parents calling and they're blaming us for harassing their students for put their masks on. That's not our choice," Orlowski said.
Teachers said on top of that, there's a shortage of substitute teachers.
"And that puts pressure on us too. Because if I'm not teaching my own classes, I'm teaching for my colleagues when they're out on COVID quarantine or their kids are out on COVID quarantine," Orlowski said.
Teachers said if this all doesn't get addressed, the teacher shortage the education industry could be facing in the future will be much worse.
"I do think there's daunting tasks ahead of us. There's some things that I think are really weighing on everyone. I think the upcoming teacher shortage is one of them," Chandler said.