story by Claire Miller
Earlier this year, teachers in school systems across the country had only a few days or weeks to prepare to shift their classes from in-person settings to online formats.
Jennifer Esposito, chair of the College of Education & Human Development’s (CEHD) Department of Educational Policy Studies, is working with Tisha Lewis Ellison from the University of Georgia’s (UGA) Mary Frances Early College of Education to better understand what training and support teachers received during this transition period.
“Given how much the pandemic quickly and drastically changed teaching and learning, we want to know how teachers were prepared to use digital tools to continue their work and how their schools supported them during this process,” Esposito said.
They designed a survey with multiple choice and open-ended questions to collect data from teachers on their experiences this spring, which they disseminated via e-mail and social media with help from CEHD undergraduate student Anne Horner.
Almost 600 respondents – including recent CEHD and UGA teacher education alumni and teachers working in school systems in Georgia and beyond – have completed the survey thus far, and the researchers are still encouraging teachers to participate.
The survey includes questions about how teachers are supporting students’ socially and emotionally, the learning platforms and tools they’re using to teach, how school districts have supported teachers overall and how individual schools responded to students who didn’t have access to technology at home.
It also addresses teachers who have school-aged children at home and the complexities in supporting their own kids’ learning while teaching their students online.
“We wanted teachers to assess how their children’s use of digital tools has extended learning (or not) at home,” she said. “We thought teachers might have a lot to say about how their children’s teachers were using digital tools and whether or not they thought these tools were helping their children learn.”
Esposito and Lewis Ellison hope the data offers insight into how teachers in rural, suburban and urban settings were prepared and supported for the shift to online learning, and how administrators can make adjustments as the pandemic stretches on.
“Many school districts are still conducting virtual learning and will do so in the spring, so this research will help school leaders make better-informed decisions about the training and support they offer teachers at their schools,” Esposito said.
Teachers interested in participating in this study can submit their responses here.