Daily Bulletin


The Conversation

  • Written by Rachel Wilson, Associate Professor in Education, University of Sydney
here's how teachers feel about going back to the classroom

After weeks of remote learning due to COVID-19, many school students in New South Wales began a staggered return to classrooms this week. Students in other states, such as some in Queensland, were also back in the classroom from Monday.

Others like Victoria are weeks away from returning. Premier Daniel Andrews said some students (in prep, years 1 and 2, and years 11 and 12) will go back to school on May 26. And Western Australia’s Premier Mark McGowan announced all school students in the state must return to the classroom from May 18.

We surveyed more than 10,000 public school teachers in NSW to find out how they felt about being at school at the end of term one, their thoughts on remote learning and feelings about returning to school.

Our survey – with responses from April 17 to May 10 – showed fewer than one in four teachers felt safe working on the school site at the end of term one. But nearly 95% felt safe working from home.

During the school holidays, when the survey began, only 13% of teachers reported feeling happy to continue working in direct contact with children and colleagues.

So, has the flattening of the curve has been enough to reassure teachers it is now safe to work with students and colleagues in schools?

Read more: 'I have never felt so frightened': Australia's coronavirus schools messaging must address teacher concerns

Anxiety about being in the classroom

At the end of term one and the beginning of term two in NSW, many teachers were delivering online lessons from their classrooms to students at home, as well as to smaller numbers of students who continued to attend school.

Almost all these teachers felt pressured to continue working on the school site.

One teacher said:

As an older teacher with an older husband at home who has compromised lungs, I feel very anxious about being at school. I do not appreciate, after teaching in the public system for 40 years, being treated as a guinea pig and a political scapegoat.

Although teachers found remote learning difficult, more than 95% agreed it was needed to control the outbreak. More than 60% felt it would have been beneficial to introduce remote learning earlier.

More than 60% of teachers reported high levels of anxiety due to risks posed by the virus. One teacher said about returning to school:

I worry about teacher health if we return to face-to-face learning. My health condition has changed recently, and my anxiety about potentially having to return to school is increasing.

Much of the argument for reopening schools has focused on children being less likely to fall ill from the virus than adults. But many teachers argue that belies the fact children can be infected and transmit the virus.

As one teacher told us:

Students have contact with adults, and students can be carriers. It is ludicrous to expect teachers to return to work and put themselves and their families at risk. It is also ludicrous to ask teachers to be teaching effectively on site, when their stress levels will be going through the roof with fear of exposure to the virus.

Many said schools needed better protective equipment. In the lead-up to remote learning, schools had not been provided with masks or gloves. Many schools said they didn’t have enough soap or hand sanitiser.

We had no sanitiser, no soap and minimal toilet paper. We were not provided masks, gloves or any protective gear. Teachers had to buy their own hand soap for staff rooms. As time went on we had less and less. With the shopping centres emptying while we were working, we were not even able to buy supplies ourselves. The conditions are disgraceful.

One teacher said:

If protective equipment [masks and gloves] and regular cleaning by an external service were provided as well as sanitiser and soap, I feel it would be safe to have students back on a reduced timetable if needed.

Teachers’ concerns for their students

More than 80% of teachers felt unprepared for remote learning and faced a steep learning curve. But more than 80% reported being well supported by colleagues and school executives.

Overall, around 70% felt the arrangements were an adequate substitute given the circumstances, but only 25% were confident their students were learning well.

Read more: Schools are moving online, but not all children start out digitally equal

To support families with limited online resources, more than one-third of public school teachers printed and delivered pen and paper packages to students.

More than 80% were particularly worried about students with special needs, many of whom are at higher risk from the disease and also vulnerable to educational disruption.

One teacher said:

Most of my students have very limited access to internet […] most rarely make contact and are clearly struggling to engage in work.

Most teachers (80%) felt they were well resourced to teach remotely. But only about one-third felt their students were well resourced at home. Some 40% were clear many students were not properly resourced, and about 25% were unsure.

About half of the teachers felt frustrated by insufficient resources and daily technical difficulties.

An upside to this education disruption?

Although teachers faced many challenges, the majority agreed the pandemic response had also had some positive outcomes.

Nearly 90% agreed there was an up-skilling in digital and online education. Large proportions also agreed the pandemic had created more time for families to connect, communicate and work together, more teacher collaboration and greater community respect for teachers.

Finally, perhaps surprisingly, more than 60% agreed the epidemic had created a positive disruption to the current school system. It seems a majority of teachers have been waiting for a dramatic shift to their work. COVID-19 might not have been what they were expecting but many were glad something had changed.

I think this whole situation is an excellent opportunity […] to highlight the reasons behind the inequities that are coming to light. My own experience has been made more positive due to extremely supportive and amazing school executive staff.

Authors: Rachel Wilson, Associate Professor in Education, University of Sydney

Read more https://theconversation.com/we-had-no-sanitiser-no-soap-and-minimal-toilet-paper-heres-how-teachers-feel-about-going-back-to-the-classroom-138600

Writers Wanted

We need a code to protect our online privacy and wipe out 'dark patterns' in digital design

arrow_forward

Australia's plants and animals have long been used without Indigenous consent. Now Queensland has taken a stand

arrow_forward

Online Gambling: Free Bets Cut Costs in an Industry Where There’s Plenty at Stake

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Prime Minister National Cabinet Statement

The National Cabinet met today to discuss Australia’s COVID-19 response, the Victoria outbreak, easing restrictions, helping Australians prepare to go back to work in a COVID-safe environment an...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

How To Create A Better Impression With Your Business Card

There’s no doubt that done well, business cards can deliver a lot for a brand. The problem, then, is that there aren’t very many good business cards out there! This is hardly the fault of the bu...

News Company - avatar News Company

Key Strategies to Effectively (and legally) Monetize your Intellectual Property

Let’s be frank: Your intellectual property can potentially make you a lot of money. What is intellectual property? Well, there isn’t necessarily a single definition for this important term but a...

Anton Quintos - avatar Anton Quintos

6 Ways to Help Your Home Based Business Join the Big League

Most of us dream of leaving our tired 9 to 5 jobs, taking ownership over our careers, and starting our own gigs. Up until now, small home-based businesses have proved to be a perfect launching p...

Diana Smith - avatar Diana Smith



News Company Media Core

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion