Focusing on mental health; What teachers feel during virtual instruction


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     Online learning has posed several drawbacks for students and families. For teachers, the altered environment came with both benefits and disturbances to their well-being.

     A study done by Science Direct found that spending time outdoors can improve mental health, as going outside can help ease feelings of time pressure and mental stress. Due to the modified schedules because of online instruction, teachers can have more time to themselves they normally wouldn’t get, which opens up the opportunity to unwind. French teacher Mrs. Larissa Arist enjoys the longer lunch break at home and being able to go outside, reporting that she feels “More relaxed and productive.”

     Furthermore, Arist notes that teaching online isn’t more stressful than teaching in person, and says her French classes are managing well. Arist has always incorporated technology into her lesson, which didn’t make teaching too difficult from the planning aspect of things. 

      According to a survey done by the Pew Research Center, 92 percent of teachers said technology improved their ability to access and distribute content, resources, and materials. Technology has also been shown to improve relationships between students and teachers, as well as their colleagues. 

     On the other hand, in a study done on a group of teachers by Psychology Today, teachers reported an unhealthy work-life balance, mostly induced by the increased presence of technology that allowed students and families to contact them at all hours. They felt the need to help which made it hard to set boundaries, and were often willing to answer because it provided some sort of engagement with their students. Arist also feels like she’s constantly checking emails, texts, and ItsLearning messages; as well as making a lot of screencasts to help explain things to students, but could’ve easily told them to her students if they were together in the classroom.

     “I do need to set boundaries and often won’t check school stuff during the weekend so I can have time with my own family,” says Arist, finding communication the most tolling aspect of teaching virtually.  The French teacher wishes more students would turn their cameras on, believing it builds a sense of community and would help overcome communication problems. She says she misses the conversations that would happen in the classroom, saying “When students are behind a screen (and muted) it’s much easier to remain silent.”

     The same group of teachers from the study by Psychology Today also reported a sense of worry and concern for their students, describing it as if students had turned into ghosts. Even though the teachers reported that school officials worked to find absent students, the lack of contact impacted teachers’ emotions.