© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

‘We’re Gonna Do Our Best’: First-Year Teachers On A New School Year Like No Other

First-year teachers: Claire Long, 22, who teaches elementary special education in Columbia, Illinois. Zachary Udell, a fourth-grade teacher at St. Louis Public School's Froebel Literacy Academy.
Ryan Delaney
St. Louis Public Radio
Claire Long and Zachary Udell, both first-year teachers in the St. Louis area, are documenting their experiences starting their careers in a remote classroom; and sharing their nerves about students returning to school.

First-year teachers in the St. Louis area readied their classrooms at the end of the summer, neatly hanging cutout letters spelling their names and positive messages for students. Just when students would see those messages in person, though, is still a question.

“While my classroom is now full of desks, spaced the district-mandated three feet apart, I will be alone in my room, surrounded by technology, doing what I can to teach my students,” said Zachary Udell, 27, who is teaching fourth grade at Froebel Elementary School in St. Louis.

With no classroom experience to lean on but a stronger grasp of technology, young teachers are wading into the tumultuous water of educating students during the pandemic.

“Everyone has said to me, ‘Well, this is the best and the worst year that you could possibly be a first-year teacher.’ And I would have to agree,” said Claire Long, 22, who is teaching elementary special education at two schools in Columbia, Ill.

Long and Udell are documenting their experience for St. Louis Public Radio of starting an unusual school year.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @rpatrickdelaney

Ryan was an education reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.