Teacher Sounds Alarm On 'Elephant In The Room' Reason Kids Are So Much Harder To Manage Now

It's the simplest explanation you can possibly imagine — and nobody's talking about it.

Teacher overwhelmed by how difficult students are to manage post pandemic Anastasia Collection, PR Image Factory, Konstantin Postumitenko, PeopleImages / Canva

Since 2020, teachers have been resigning at unprecedented rates, and among the many reasons often cited is how difficult it has become to manage kids in schools, and the fundamental lack of support from school systems and administrations to address the problem.

But no one seems to agree on what exactly is causing the problem. One teacher on TikTok says the reason is actually very simple, and it all stems from the fact that none of us are talking about it.


The teacher says the reason kids are so much harder to manage now is simply the trauma of the pandemic — a problem none of us are taking seriously.

For better or worse, life has moved on since the darkest days of 2020 and 2021. There's been a collective return to the lives we led in 2019 even as COVID-19 has gone anywhere but away.

Every few months we have another surge of hospitalizations we all pretend isn't happening, while the government assures us everything is fine and access to vaccines is restricted, and more and more bosses demand we return to the office.

This collective gaslighting is hard enough on us adults, but we never seem to talk about how it might be impacting kids.


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After going through the traumatic experience of the pandemic with developing brains not yet equipped to deal with such stress, they've now been thrust back into a school system still built to serve kids from a pre-pandemic world that no longer exists, as if all that trauma will simply disappear if we just keep ignoring it.

That's not how adult brains work, let alone kids'. And Mash, a teacher and TikToker known as @exspedteacher on the app, says this is the reason kids are so much harder to manage now. Not their cell phones, though that doesn't help. Not permissive parenting, though that doesn't help either. Simply put, it's the trauma.


Mash calls the trauma of the pandemic and our refusal to address it the 'elephant in the room' that has made teachers' and parents' jobs nearly impossible.

"Let's talk about the elephant in the room," Mash begins their videos, "these kids that we are teaching now are not the same kids. They're not the same profile of learner." They go on to explain that not only are disability rates higher — from conditions like ADHD to mental illnesses borne of trauma — but surely so are undiagnosed diability rates.



The result? "When I go into a classroom now, it's literally a quarter to a third of the class that has unmet needs, whether it's disability or trauma or developmental delay of some kind."

And when it comes to that trauma, Mash put it into a frankly shocking perspective. "We're going to pretend like the whole world was not impacted by millions of people dying," they said. "And on a kid level, imagine that they were there three years ago being told they will die or kill someone if they're not masking... Developmentally, that is scary to kids. That is terrifying."


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We have known for ages now about the deleterious impacts of stress on children's brains, not just from an emotional perspective but a cognitive one. But at no point has it seemed to occur to our government or school systems that this needs to be addressed after a collectively traumatic experience. As Mash put it, "We didn't provide them with any other supports or systems."

The teacher says education systems and the profession of teaching itself need to be totally reimagined in order to actually serve kids now.

"Here's the issue a lot of us are running into now," Mash said of teachers who feel like they can't ever get through a simple lesson with their students. "These are not the same kids! Your job is no longer the same as it was before."


Mash then explained that because of their trauma, kids' attention spans are much smaller and their impulsivity is higher — a problem no one is addressing in any real way. Speaking to teachers directly, Mash said, "It is not okay that you're not being trained on how you need to change your understanding, entirely, of your role."

This is, of course, a major factor in the unprecedented levels of teacher resignations — they are burned out by what has become the untenable workload of simply managing these impacts on kids. Mash says they don't blame teachers for bailing. But the teachers are not the problem — the lack of will and funding to address the underlying issues is.

"We need to rethink what we are doing with children," they said, going on to explain that all the old understanding and standards for kids' cognitive abilities, from attention spans to auditory processing, are now "out the window."

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We have known about the impacts of trauma on children's brains and cognitive abilities for more than 20 years. It is absurd that we are not applying it to our education systems.

"We are reaching the systemic breaking point of education in our country," Mash warned, a reality that is all the more infuriating when you consider the most absurd part of the situation: We have known, for decades, exactly how stress and trauma impact children's cognitive ability. Absolutely none of this is new.

The landmark ACEs Study focused on Adverse Childhood Experiences like death, poverty, abuse and illness, among others, and how they impact children's mental health, emotions and cognitive abilities both in childhood and throughout their lives. And as Mash explained, the pandemic qualifies as an ACE on multiple fronts.

"We are dealing with the repercussions of an enormous, huge, traumatic event that also involved health crises, [and] grief, because a lot of our students lost family members due to COVID, a lot of families lost their jobs, and a lot of kids and adults are now having side effects from having COVID at least once, multiple times," they said.


The ACEs study was completed in 1997, 26 years ago. A full 23 years before the pandemic ever began. We know better. We should be doing better. "Your job has changed," Mash went on to say to teachers, "and nobody told you, and that's very unfair... I hate to tell you, we're no longer in the same world."

Until we collectively recognize that and actually address it — instead of banning books and passing laws about whether or not LGBTQ+ kids can play sports and all the other ridiculous things we've made a priority when it comes to schools — nothing will change, and nothing will get better.

Please take that as a reminder that there is an election one year from now. Make the right choices. Your kids are quite literally depending on it.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.