In some cases, the pandemic has strengthened this experience and made teachers more resilient. Still, the consequences of remote education, the costs exacted onto the mental and physical health of teachers and staff, are serious.
We surveyed 284 educators in July 2021 to better understand the pandemic’s impact on educators across the country. Here are a few key findings.
Teachers Are Experiencing Mental and Emotional Challenges
The COVID-19 pandemic has put pressure on countless relationships, including the professional relationships between students and teachers. When asked about the biggest challenges that teachers faced over the past 18 months, many respondents highlighted problems connecting with students and helping them emotionally during the pandemic:
- 4 percent of teachers worried about students struggling emotionally.
- 9 percent of teachers struggled to create bonds with students and their families.
- 7 percent of teachers worried about their own mental or physical health issues.
Additionally, teacher workload was frequently cited as one of the biggest concerns among educators. More than two-thirds (67.6 percent) of teachers reported high levels of stress from being expected to do so much extra work. Heavy workloads are nothing new to teachers, but our survey highlights how much more work remote education has caused.
Educators Continue to Overcome Obstacles for their Students
Despite the added stress and emotional burdens that remote or hybrid education creates, many educators are still passionate about what they do. Forty-three percent of respondents said the challenges posed by remote learning never made them rethink their profession. If students had to learn remotely again, almost one-half (47.9 percent) of educators still wouldn’t consider changing their careers at all.
Respondents were eager to talk about what is going right in education right now. The COVID-19 pandemic changed how teachers communicate with parents and opened the door to new outreach channels. Families and teachers are able to get on the same page to benefit the child’s education.
Additionally, teachers are strong. They are smart. Despite the circumstances, they have overcome the countless challenges thrown at them. Almost 85 percent of respondents said teachers have adapted to the unique circumstances.
Good Things Can Come from the Pandemic
While most Americans are eager to put the pandemic behind them, there were some positive things to come out of the past year. First, this was a tremendous test of remote learning, which has the potential to improve education in the future. Half of educators (47.9 percent) believe remote learning technology can help students learn, but it hasn’t happened yet. Meanwhile, 73.9 percent of say remote education opened up a new segment of learning for students.
Additionally, there are some positive takeaways from the pandemic that educators will use moving forward. The creative communication methods used with online instruction can be brought back to the in-person classroom, while educators can continue to focus on the mental health of students.
It’s important to hold on to the positive advances caused by the pandemic and to apply them to future school years.
We Should Learn from the Past Year
For teachers to effectively support students, they need to feel supported as well. They need physical resources and mental health care. Remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic placed a significant amount of stress on the mental health of teachers. They were expected to work long hours to help students while also caring for the emotional needs of families.
Moving forward, there needs to be a continued emphasis on the well-being of educators. This can prevent burnout while giving teachers the strength to build students up to become their best selves.
Casey Meehan, founder of Epic Presence: a Philadelphia-based provider of research and intelligence to several of the world’s largest technology companies.