The COVID-19 pandemic has brought life to a standstill across the world, and the education sector hasn’t been immune to the effects of it. Nearly 178 countries have reported school closures, and the demand for COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, to protect teachers, school administrators, and students has skyrocketed.
From parents being unprepared for homeschooling, to gaps in childcare, these closures have shed light on some serious social and economic issues.
But, on the other side of the coin, it has also shown us how important teachers are—not just to the growth and development of our children but to the entire fabric of our society.
However, while many teachers are trying to engage students, they are facing major bottlenecks, including:
- Stress due to economic uncertainty and concern for the safety of loved ones
- Anxiety about their future
- The overwhelming challenge of returning to schools where many students have either fallen behind, or dropped out—with increased pressure to ensure catch-up without much professional development support
- Little access to the right technologies or the skills to use them
To remain effective during and after the COVID-19 health crisis, teachers need to be supported in multiple ways.
Here are three ways to support teachers in the midst of these uncertain times.
Stay in Touch
It has been found that chronic stress among teachers is linked to decreases in teacher motivation and engagement—both of which lead to burnout. And, right now, teachers’ concern for vulnerable students is one of the most stressful aspects of their job.
Teachers have a caring role in the lives of students outside of their academic work. Not being able to observe every student each day can intensify their worries, as they don’t feel entirely confident that they are all okay. And of particular worry to teachers are children who have not been heard from and whose families have become unresponsive to their teachers since schools were shut down. In fact, some teachers have gone so far as to go to the homes of their students in order to check up on them.
By staying in regular communication with teachers, students and their families can help relieve some of the stress that teachers are experiencing at this time.
Remember That Less is More
Research predicts that, during the initial stages of workers’ exhaustion, it is more effective to decrease demands than it is to provide resources.
At a time of so much uncertainty, it may seem counterintuitive that offering teachers a lot of resources to utilize isn’t actually helpful. But teachers who are flooded with learning tools, websites, platforms, apps, and other resources can view them more as demands, rather than solutions.
The most effective way to offer teachers resources are those that initially focus on only a few familiar teaching mechanisms, then gradually build to provide more complex options.
Teachers tend to cope better when originally given reduced demands (less options for resources), and the opportunity to focus on strategies, techniques, and expectations with students that they are familiar with.
At Specialist ID, we’ve experienced the need for teachers to simplify their options firsthand. We offer a wide selection of ID accessories and PPE, but we also invite our customers to reach out to our team if they ever need help.
Although your intentions to offer teachers a list of things that might help them may be coming from a good place, you could actually be doing more harm than good. Be as helpful as you can by listening to what they need first before providing suggestions.
Provide Any Kind of Support
Teachers who face scrutiny from parents and administrators, at a time when their struggles are observed, can have difficulty coping when they experience a dip in their efficacy and confidence. However, those who perceive collegial support are more successful in coping and recovering efficacy.
So be sure to show teachers some support in any possible way you can. Whether it’s offering to help them with projects, sending them a gift to show your appreciation (like a personalized lanyard for teachers), or simply thanking them for all the work they do, any act of kindness you can show during this time not only serves as a nice gesture, but a driver for how effective teachers can be at their jobs.
We’re living through a pandemic that most of us could never have imagined. And our teachers are trying their best to provide a quality education experience amid distance learning and a return to classrooms that must adhere to social distancing mandates, all while still helping to ensure that students are doing well during this health crisis.
By communicating regularly, being sure not to overwhelm them with excess information, and just doing whatever you can to show them some love, you can provide teachers with the support they need to not just effectively do their jobs, but to positively impact our society by ensuring the well-being of students.