Global Center Support for Teachers During COVID-19
by Elisheva Cohen
Educators around the world bore the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic in a unique way as they were thrust into the role of first responder for children everywhere. Teachers were expected to dramatically and rapidly shift the way they do their job, while simultaneously attending to the social-emotional needs of their students, their students’ families, and themselves. With global and local partners, Global Center staff addressed these challenges through research and programming.
In order to better understand the impact of the pandemic on teachers’ practices and the ways in which they were responding to this global emergency, the Global Center’s Postdoctoral Fellow, Elisheva Cohen, in partnership with Laura Wangsness Willemsen, Assistant Professor of Education at Concordia University, St. Paul, launched a longitudinal study following elementary level teachers in a blue collar district in the suburban Midwest.
Preliminary findings show that teachers are pouring themselves into their work and increasing the amount of caring labor they do for their students and families, themselves, and their profession. As one kindergarten teacher explained, “I just care about how they’re doing as little people navigating their world.” Teachers are spending time into the night communicating with caregivers and finding new and creative ways to teach amidst new precautionary measures like social distancing. As teachers have grown care-worn over the past nine months, they need extra support from school leaders. Findings from this study have been published locally in Indiana here and in Minnesota here, nationally here, and internationally here.
This research has received support from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at IU as a part of their Coronavirus response funds and from the Educational Research Service Project from the American Educational Research Association. With this support, we have collaborated with the school district to share our findings through regular webinars, meetings, and workshops with district leadership and teachers.