Survey

Educators Feeling Stressed, Anxious, Overwhelmed and Capable

More than nine in 10 teachers (94 percent) shifted to remote teaching in response to school closures. While most of those teachers that haven't transitioned to online teaching (another four percent) intended to do so, among the tiny share that haven't and won't, the primary reasons they gave were tied to lack of access to technology and lack of support at home for their students. More than half in that position (55 percent) said they were handing out paper materials to parents for students to use at home.

Among those who did switch to online teaching, respondents said they spent almost as much time preparing for their virtual classes (three hours) as they did teaching them (four hours).

More than nine in 10 teachers (94 percent) shifted to remote teaching in response to school closures. While most of those teachers that haven't transitioned to online teaching (another 4 percent) intended to do so, among the tiny share that haven't and won't, the primary reasons they gave were tied to lack of access to technology and lack of support at home for their students. More than half in that position (55 percent) said they were handing out paper materials to parents for students to use at home.

What kinds of "quick classes" teachers would like to optimize their online teaching practices. Source: "University of Phoenix: Virtual Teaching Academy Research from University of Phoenix

Those findings came out of an extensive online survey of American K-12 teachers between Apr. 10 and Apr. 13, 2020. About a thousand people responded to the survey, which was sponsored by the University of Phoenix, an online institution that has a College of Education, and reported by Edelman Intelligence. The primary objectives of the survey were to understand where teachers were experiencing successes, challenges and unfilled needs as they moved to virtual instruction, as well as their state of mental health, what resources and tools they had or wished they had and what content would help them succeed with online instruction.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of teachers reported that they feel "somewhat" or "extremely" uncertain (81 percent), stressed (77 percent), anxious (75 percent), overwhelmed (74 percent), sad (60 percent) and lonely (54 percent). On the other hand, they also are feeling capable (77 percent), motivated (66 percent) and confident (61 percent). Overall, however, they have greater confidence in their own abilities to adjust to virtual instruction than they do in their students' abilities to do so (81 percent compared to 57 percent).

When asked how the transition "made you feel," one high school teacher responded, "Slightly anxious to be out of my comfort zone. Thankful to still be able to work. Glad to learn new skills/software. Glad to still communicate with students. Worried for safety and health of students." Those sentiments were countered by another high school teacher who offered this response: "Frustrated and exhausted. We did not have transitional time, nor did we have a grace period to test out methods. Our school district wanted us to have it perfect within hours. So I felt unsupported and definitely unappreciated."

When it comes to coping with their own mental health, teachers said they were more likely to turn to friends and family (75 percent), walks (73 percent), and conversations with peer teachers (61 percent) than they were to look for support from their significant other (57 percent).

Any sense of responsibility that these educators feel to doing their jobs isn't necessarily coming from their bosses. Just 15 percent said school leaders were "pressuring" them "to stay on track." Two-thirds (67 percent) pointed to "internal pressure" as the motivator "to do right by the students [and] stay on track."

What weighs most heavily on them is their students' overall well-being. Nine in 10 agreed that the lack of face-to-face connection with students was making the transition "more difficult." Teachers also said that the lack of social time students had with each other was hurting student personal growth and that virtual teaching hindered their own abilities "to identify if students [were] struggling."

If teachers could take quick courses to help them optimize their online instructional practices, the greatest interest focused on helping them come up with creative activities that could be done remotely (90 percent). But following that, the focus was on how to work best with students: identifying whether they were struggling (86 percent), fostering interaction and better connections between the students (85 percent), connecting better with students emotionally while teaching online (84 percent) and managing their students' mental health (84 percent). Similarly high numbers of respondents said they would like to learn more about how to create compelling lesson content (84 percent) and use online technology for teaching (84 percent).

While the full report isn't available online yet, the University of Phoenix expected to post a version in the near future.

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