Coronavirus pandemic impact on teacher’s wellbeing: How can we help them prosper more?

April 1, 2021 7:16 PM

Regardless of whether teachers attend training, get thank you notes, or increase their positive learning networks, their mental, as well as physical wellbeing, is the way to quality education.

It’s now more than ever that the teachers must know how to face challenges by implementing new ideas, approaches, and innovation in the education sector and improve. (Representational image: IE)

By Dr Sunita Gandhi

It is only partially fair to believe that it was difficult for the teaching community to get accustomed to the new module – one from home. Right at the beginning of an otherwise normal academic session, a pandemic changed the obvious course of schools and universities and banned classroom sessions. From thereon, it has been an uphill climb for the teachers who are partly or not at all aware of the technologies involved in teaching online. Also, the rate at which teachers are complaining about being overworked and saddled due to the new normal is alarming.

For one online session, a teacher must toggle among different applications such as PowerPoint, Google Classroom, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams for their students’ seamless learning experience. To do so, they are required to prepare worksheets, assessments, and other reading materials well in advance. And even though most of the teachers are digitally literate today, providing full-time online education is burdensome and so is the pressure from the education committee.

Then who takes care of their wellbeing? Who ensures they are treated reasonably? Who guarantees they are not exhausted with their imbalanced work-life?

School leaders have the potential to help staff be healthier and more well-balanced so they can have the positive energy and passion needed to facilitate great learning with their students.

Here’s how it can be done:

1. Talk less, listen more – When teachers seek help from the management, they are not always expecting a concrete solution. Sometimes, it’s also about having someone to go to for all their work-related troubles. In those situations, if the management helps them without being critical and easing back down to give their full, deferential opinion and express warmth and graciousness, it might make the teachers feel they are heard. Also, if required, support can be provided in terms of resources, criticism, or assurance at whatever point necessary.

2. Share personal experiences – At regular team huddles or in informal associations, share experiences or anecdotes to encourage each other. By sharing things as little as a time when the management noticed a resource putting extra efforts in helping other resources in an emergency, or when an experienced teacher willfully came forward to help a new teacher handle young students, will prove that you are considerate. Stories like these show them that the management cares.

3. Make the little things count – By incorporating little changes in the daily routine such as training sessions for digital literacy or organizing mind healing practices in between classroom sessions to ease their burden, the school management can show that it considers their contribution valuable and that it is not easy to teach remotely. Regardless of anything that it does, it’s the little everyday activities that mean the most. Also, care is infectious — little acts of caring can motivate teachers to perform their best.

4. Thank them – It makes a huge difference to a teacher when a supervisor or a student or their parents pay gratitude to them for their knowledge and service. The same goes for supervisors. While the work hierarchy doesn’t allow this to be a regular norm, it is useful in creating a positive mindset and an environment within any organization.

5. Celebrate their achievements as well as concerns – Celebrating the wins is as important as being grateful in an organization. When the management values their achievements—teachers experience positive feelings. Not only are these positive feelings contagious, they likewise pile on one another, which prompts more good positivity—and researchers have discovered that teachers who share good feelings have a more peaceful work environment.

Regardless of whether teachers attend training, get thank you notes, or increase their positive learning networks, their mental, as well as physical wellbeing, is the way to quality education. By what other means would we be able to ensure teachers can make the most of the opportunities that online education has come up with? It’s now more than ever that the teachers must know how to face challenges by implementing new ideas, approaches, and innovation in the education sector and improve.

(The author is an Educationist, Researcher and Economist. She is also the Founder of Global Classroom Pvt. Ltd (GCPL) and Global Education & Training Institute (GETI). Views expressed are personal.)

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