Open Studio 3: Solutions for Teachers in a Post-pandemic World
Open studio #3, Cycle #2
The third Open Studio of the second cycle was held on 28 and 29 March 2022, and was titled ‘Better is Possible: Solutions for Teachers in a Post-pandemic World’. It brought together participants from the RESISTIRÉ consortium itself as well as experts, teacher representatives, and creative people from outside of the project.
The COVID-19 pandemic had profound effects on the wider field of education and, consequently, on the teachers who are an integral part of that field. Not least, the sudden and unexpected adoption of digital teaching in many countries – to help curb the number of COVID-19 infections – created an unsustainable workload for a lot of teachers and led to the inception and/or exacerbation of mental health issues among them. This Open Studio sought to find solutions to already existing and newfound difficulties faced by teachers, paying special attention to the socioeconomic conditions under which they try to work.
One of the core issues that constituted the main focus of the Open Studio was the severe impact of the pandemic on teachers’ mental health: the global health crisis and associated policy measures to curb the spread of the virus have caused excessive amounts of stress to manifest among teachers, while also isolating them from each other and their pupils. This has led to the proliferation and/or exacerbation of mental health issues like burnout and depression. Moreover, many teachers have struggled to keep up with digital or hybrid education, in terms of the equipment and materials required, the necessary skills and competences, and the reduced in-person contact with other teachers and pupils. Teachers’ working conditions and classrooms were also an important topic, as significant numbers of teachers are overburdened with work and, in some cases, they have to return to teaching spaces that could be made safer and healthier (in light of the pandemic).
The main questions that this OS tried to answer were:
- How can we prevent the appearance and/or exacerbation of mental health issues among teachers, especially during crisis situations like the pandemic?
- How do we address and mitigate the mental health issues already present?
- How do we ensure good working conditions for teachers?
- How do we prevent them from being overburdened by the amount of work (also with regard to digital teaching)?
- How can we provide safe, healthy and inclusive education in classrooms and auditoria when health and safety measures are in place?
- How do we equip and educate/train teachers so that they are adequately prepared for hybrid teaching (or even temporarily fully digital teaching, like during the peaks of the pandemic)?
- How can we build a resilient education system that has access to the necessary equipment, knowledge and competences to function in crisis situations?
- What opportunities/advantages are there in digital education and can a hybrid approach work effectively?
- Is there way to meaningfully combine in-person education and digital education without losing sight of the other crucial roles that teachers have (socialisation of pupils, caring for them and for each other, …)?
To further inspire participants and evoke empathy, five personas were put forward to the group for them to think about the factors that could have made a difference in the lives of the people described.
Input from the Open Studios will feed the development of concrete solutions:
- Policy recommendations
- New research agendas
- Pilot actions to demonstrate the potential impact of the solutions suggested.
The operational recommendations produced in Cycle 2 will be available in July 2022. Register here to stay informed!