Teachers facilitate and ensure learning amid COVID-19-induced school closures that hinder kids and young people from improving and developing their academic prowess.
For disadvantaged students, who are less likely to have access to educational opportunities beyond brick-and-mortar schools, the impacts of shutdowns may be major. Those with learning difficulties may be affected due to interruptions in school. Keeping abreast of schoolwork after a period of inactivity may prompt some students to drop out. Nevertheless, let us dive into why teachers are playing a significant role during the pandemic.
The Impact of Distance Learning Among Parents and Teachers
Survey research firm GBAO, on behalf of the National Education Association, surveyed a nationally representative sample of 800 public school parents/guardians using an online panel between April 3-7, 2020. The survey revealed that 88% of parents approved of the job their children’s teachers are doing during the pandemic, followed by school principals (84%), school support staff (81%), the CDC (79%), their governor (71%), and their mayor or local government (73%).
On the other hand, 52% of parents said they have very serious concerns with keeping their children’s education on track, along with the concern of getting sick or having a close family/friends getting sick (53%). Other concerns cited by the parents were loss of work and/or income (48%), keeping their child/children safely occupied (45%), knowing what degree or social distancing is appropriate for their kids (43%), and accessing food or other necessities (42%).
When asked what challenges the respondents are experiencing with distance learning, parents mentioned their child/children missing out on socializing with other students (55%), child/children missing seeing their teachers in person (45%), being more distracted more than when they are in class (31%), and having trouble adapting to distance learning (23%). When asked about the top priorities for schools to address during the outbreak, parents answered distance learning training for themselves (38%) and for educators (37%). Other priorities included ensuring educators continued to get paid while schools are closed and working to bridge the digital divide so all students have access to internet and computers.
Non-profit group Educators for Excellence found that 95% of teachers reported educating kids through distance learning during the crisis, with 80% relying primarily on online tools to deliver instruction and 5% relying primarily on “traditional tools” like worksheets, reported Mark Keierleber of LA School Report, an online news site that tackles the intersection of politics and education in Los Angeles. When asked about the student assignment completion rates before and after pandemic-induced campus closures, 27% said it was much worse than before, 40% answered somewhat worse before, and 21% said about the same as before.
Regarding students’ access to a computer or tablet for school work, 9% said only a few have either of the said devices. 30% said some of them and 35% stated most of them. Only 24% said their all of their students have access to a computer or tablet. When asked how much experience did the teachers have online learning prior to the pandemic, 14% said they have no experience at all while 39% had some experience. 33% admitted not having very much experience with online learning while 14% had a great deal of experience.
Why Should Families Thank Teachers?
1. Parents Also Need Help In Educating Their Kids
Parents become teachers while schools are closed. For many families, a parent’s struggle in facilitating their kids’ learning may be a major stressor. In these trying times, schools must be attentive to parents’ needs and concerns such as ensuring that every household has access to resources to facilitate and maintain learning.
Provinces are expected to mobilize and collaborate with teachers to employ measures that will guarantee the consolidation or the maintenance of learning, thereby minimizing the negative impacts of prolonged interruptions when school resumes.
2. Bridging Social Inequalities
Teachers are involved in identifying and addressing the basic and educational needs of students. They can form virtual discussion groups or provide interactive learning platforms as children can utilize technology to make up for the lack of socialization. Teachers show a caring role in their students’ daily life, with many of them saying they are contacting with their students on a daily basis to establish relationships and ensuring they have adequate food, support, and safety, according to a survey by Laura Sokai, Jeff Babb, and Lesley Eblie Trudel of The Conversation.
Moreover, some students need more help as they have special educational needs or their parents do not speak the language of instruction. Teachers report that not every child had equal access to that kind of support when they are not in school. Some students have no one to turn to for help because their parents are working, unavailable, or preoccupied with childcare. To close social inequities, teachers drive to their students’ houses to teach out of their vans or school bus drivers in some divisions drop off and pick children’s school work at their homes.
3. Teachers Establish and Translate Expectations
Teachers are responsible for setting clear and realistic goals, which should come from education ministries, and tailoring them to every student. In fact, teachers are the only ones who can transform government guidelines into concrete action plans. Vulnerable students and their families will benefit from this since teachers need frequent communication and assessment regarding their situation.
Teachers are also emotionally burdened if they fail to contact parents of vulnerable students. For them, not being able to observe each and every child or youth makes them more worried, as teachers are not confident that all of their students are okay. Some even went to their students’ homes to check if they are doing well and good.
One teacher said, “Now, there’s just more worry about how kids are coping and how their families are coping. … I’m not even really worried about what we’re teaching — that’s the last of my worries.” Teachers will also have to reduce their expectations (while making those expectations clear) and identify which areas they want their students to focus on. Teachers can delegate tasks and offer choices of activities that allow students to work at their own pace or according to their interests.
We can consider teachers as frontline workers because they help facilitate and maintain learning during the pandemic. Teachers exert immense effort to ensure their students’ needs are met to the point that they drive to their homes. We should not take teachers for granted; in fact, we should be thankful for the sacrifices they make to ensure the continuity of education.