The pandemic created a plethora of challenges and obstacles for the educational system. As schools all around the country were closing, learning was moved online and educators found themselves rushing to adopt new curriculums and strategies for teaching remotely.
Everyone was dealing with unprecedented uncertainty, from worrying about the possibility of loved ones getting sick, to childcare, and household job loss, and teachers were not an exception. Teachers, in particular, faced an incredible sense of helplessness. Not only did they have to deal with their own personal afflictions, but they also dealt with the loss of their professional efficacy.
It should come as no surprise that teachers experience higher levels of job satisfaction and are less likely to feel burnout when they feel confident and capable in their positions. Before the pandemic 6 in 10 teachers rated as highly stressed. Now as the education system continues to deal with the pandemic, educators’ feelings of competence continue to take a hit. From addressing students’ most basic needs without contact to making learning experiences that are engaging and effective, teachers have a lot on their plates. So how can leaders help to support teachers’ well-being and restore a sense of efficacy to these hard-working individuals during such difficult times?
Support Collective Efficacy
A study in 2011 found that teacher collective efficacy is linked to student success stronger than a student’s socioeconomic status. Thus, it is imperative that school leaders ensure that teachers are supported in developing a shared sense of efficacy. During challenging times, such as the pandemic, transformational leadership can make a world of difference. These leaders will support educators while also maintaining expectations.
In order to support collective efficacy among teachers during the pandemic a softer approach to leadership may be helpful. There should be a focus on finding the positive and celebrating even small successes. Experimentation and reflection should be encouraged as faculty work together to take the necessary steps to overcoming obstacles and providing students with the best learning experience possible. If a teacher tries something different and finds success it is vital that the information is passed along so that other teachers can see if it’s something that also works for them. Nothing is normal so trying things outside of the box can be key to success.
Everyone must acknowledge how difficult the past year has been for educators. Parents, teachers, and school leaders have dealt with a vast amount of stress and ever changing conditions which makes it understandably difficult to approach education with positivity all of the time. However, there are opportunities to pause, reflect, and redirect.
By supporting collective efficacy among teachers the vision for quality learning can be shifted to promote better classroom environments and increased collaboration and innovation.