Upbeat, the nation’s leading K-12 teacher engagement and retention tool, announced this week the launch of a “Teaching from Home” survey to gather information on educators’ experiences with remote teaching due to COVID-19 school closures. The first-of-its-kind survey reflects feedback from district leaders across the country who expressed their need to gather information on teacher support and well-being during this unique time in education.
In a virtual meeting earlier this month, Upbeat’s Director of Research, Dr. Matthew Kraft, met with Upbeat clients from Chicago, IL; Greenville, SC; Austin, TX; Atlanta, GA and New York, NY. The participants included teachers, HR leaders, principals and superintendents. Based on client input, the “Teach from Home” survey assesses a range of topics including teachers’ perspective on the quality of communication they have received from school and district leaders during the transition to distance learning; access to technological tools and training to support the transition to online teaching; work-life balance while working from home; and teacher collaboration and self-efficacy while teaching remotely. The survey will have several standardized questions to gain comparable information on teachers’ experiences across the country but can be customized for each school or district.
“We are facing an unprecedented moment that requires immediate evaluation,” shared Nyree Sanders, Director of Human Resources in Newton County Schools, a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. “First and foremost, we need clear insight into how our teachers are managing this rapid shift to distance learning and an understanding of strengths and opportunities in our leadership during this transition.”
Scott Frauenheim, CEO of Distinctive Schools, a charter network with schools in Chicago, Illinois and Detroit, Michigan added, “We are seeing emotions and tensions rise in this new reality. How do we make sure that we are taking care of our teams without being able to see them or support them constantly? I hope that we are not planning for another nationwide school closure but gathering this data and hearing ideas from schools across the country will put us in a better position to respond if we end up returning to remote learning at some point in the future. We want our teams to have balance while also supporting our students and families. We believe our teams can always help us get better and we listen when they talk.”
School districts across the nation are facing a new reality. In almost every district, all learning has abruptly moved online. This has presented new hurdles for teachers like leading a class on Zoom or transitioning to a new online reading or math tool all while taking care of their families at home. In other districts, lack of internet access or technology amongst students has complicated online learning. This has forced schools to distribute hard copy packets of schoolwork that students work through with little to no teacher instruction. On top of this, teachers across the country are struggling to maintain daily contact with school leadership and their students.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t appear to be a short-lived problem. So far, twenty-eight states have made the decision to cancel school for the remainder of the academic year and reopen in the fall. Some district leaders fear that closures could extend into the fall. Tools to understand teacher sentiment must adapt with these changes.
“When we began to learn more about the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects that it may have on schools, we immediately thought of our partners and how we could work to support them during this unprecedented time.” shared Henry Wellington, Upbeat’s founder and CEO. “As a former teacher and parent of a one-year-old, I can only imagine the challenges that teachers are facing trying to balance instruction and other responsibilities that are involved in working from home. At Upbeat, we are lucky to have incredible partners and are excited to have built this new survey based on their feedback. Now, more than ever before, it is critical for school leaders to understand the teacher experience and identify areas where teachers need further support.”