Covid Stress Management For Teachers
The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the entire education system in India. Schools were closed abruptly to prevent the spread. There was a very sudden requirement to shift to remote learning. Teachers were called upon to facilitate virtual learning and support students’ well-being throughout the shift.
The new technology change in online teaching to connect teachers and students is definitely a boon to the education system. However, challenges such as isolation, loneliness, time management, unequal access to modern technology & the internet, job security, pay-cut, student management, new academic year planning, role conflicts, acquiring new skills & competencies, too many work assignments, managing life in lockdowns, work-life balance while working from home, lack of familiarity with distance education and uncertainty about their duration resulted in unpleasant emotions among the tutors.
The transition from classroom education to online education often leads to new concerns and challenges. Under such a circumstance, all teachers can develop anxiety, depression and stress symptoms.
According to various studies and researches, a high percentage of teachers showed symptoms of stress and anxiety associated with online education. The symptoms stayed even after the schools reopened. These unpleasant feelings were often accompanied by sleeplessness, tiredness, fearfulness, over worrying, inability to concentrate and feelings of disconnectedness. All of them restricted their ability to teach properly.
So, the teachers need to learn & practise the essential techniques to adapt to the new system and cope with the problems. They need to be prepared to overcome their stress and anxiety and get emotionally strong to support the students and make the virtual/hybrid environment a better place for learning.
There are numerous solutions to overcome the challenges. The following methods are some of the best techniques that help to effectively manage stress during the transition to online teaching:
Teachers have suffered stress and anxiety from having to adapt in record time in order to provide online classes. When the work environment moves from designated places to home, it mixes with family time. The time required for preparing for new changes in the work environment is also a stressful factor. To manage time wisely, teachers need to focus on getting up early, prioritizing tasks, avoiding distractions and setting daily goals. They can utilize digital tools in scheduling assignments and establishing a routine to manage time efficiently.
Managing demands from the family
Teachers are in a situational crisis of constantly moving back and forth between online and offline duties. Supporting the family needs while facilitating online education and ensuring everyone’s health and safety has taken a huge mental toll on the tutors. Especially, teachers with school-going children have suffered a lot of stress because they have the additional burden of parenting, the demands of homeschooling and worries about their child’s return to school. It would be better to communicate with your other family members about the workload in such circumstances. Set up a routine that fits with your family life. Break jobs into smaller ones and prioritize things that need to be done immediately. If you feel pressured, you can also try communicating your difficulties to the school authorities to put strategies in place that can be much helpful.
Dealing with misinformation & Reducing the communication gap
Lack of information or unreliable information on managing classes during the pandemic can also lead to stress. To reduce misinformation, the Government of India had joined hands with different ministries to work as one group. The COVID-19 Inter-Ministerial group provided valuable information, guidelines and framework to help educators across India. Huge communication gaps and improper communication between the top management of educational institutions and teachers also add stress. To solve such a problem, in-charges and supervisory heads must actively reach out and connect with the teachers to communicate professional matters and offer the necessary support required.
The educators who can effectively overcome adversity at work can handle the emotional load of that adversity. To reduce their workloads and cope with stress, teachers can utilize education technology that helps manage daily activities and save time & energy spent on performing routine tasks. It is also important to delegate your responsibilities and get students to do the work. Also, don’t forget to manage time effectively and build regular breaks between the tasks so that you don’t feel overburdened in performing daily duties.
Organizing a suitable workspace
Educators rely on office spaces from where they do their work at the campus. With schools and colleges being closed, educators have lost their office space. Recreating a dedicated workspace at home and getting properly organized can be a great way to reduce stress. It can help you easily transition from one work to another and focus on your work.
Taking quality time off
To do work with great enjoyment, a teacher needs to organize time for self-care and recreation. Sitting in one spot, especially in front of a device, for prolonged hours is definitely bad for your health. Give yourself a break and get involved in leisure activities or relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, simple body stretching routines, entertainment activities, regular exercises and spending quality time with your family. Getting enough sleep is another important factor that helps to manage stress. Lack of sleep can increase your stress levels and cause various health problems in the future.
Training and development programs for teachers
For online education to become successful, the teachers need to adapt to technology changes now and in the future. When virtual learning was introduced to continue education amidst the crisis, it made the tutors self-learners and fast respondents. They became qualified to face any challenges thrown in front of them. However, there can be individuals who require proper training and support to tackle the challenges in online teaching. Educational institutions shall understand the needs of each individual and take the necessary measures to support them. Special needs to be given to tutors who are most vulnerable to the impact to cope with the stress and perform better.
Appropriate communication and timely feedback are essential for the smooth functioning of virtual education. For teachers, being accessible is important. The invention of ed-tech tools has helped the school community work as a team and eliminates miscommunication. However, the tutors cannot be online for twenty-four hours. This can lead to a lack of adequate communication. So, the tutors are required to set expectations for communication with students to not interfere with their other activities.
Planning out for adopting effective education technology
The quickest and easiest way for educational institutions to manage daily activities and remove the stressful transition to an online environment is to opt for ed-tech solutions with reliable technical support. They can help smooth the transition process and provide resources and support to make virtual learning less stressful.
The new teaching model can be manageable for educators who follow a disciplined lifestyle, and the difficulties may go away in the foreseeable future. However, the essential measures that could be implemented with limited resources can be a considerable challenge.
The COVID-19 pandemic could have a long-lasting impact on teaching activities. By considering how teachers are preparing themselves with the return to school during this pandemic, we might be in a better position to offer the relevant support structures that may be needed.
The impact of the pandemic on the emotional well-being of educators is a challenge of concern that needs to be tackled by both the educational community and society in general. Managing the new challenges effectively will help students and educators succeed in their new academic environment.