Education Week just published some findings from a survey of teachers and district leaders that was conducted on May 6 and 7 that is bound to raise eyebrows, if not ire.
The headlined finding: Teachers work an hour less per day during COVID-19. Seventy-one percent of those surveyed say teachers are spending less time on student instruction now than pre-COVID-19. That doesn’t jibe with some anecdotal comments from teachers I’ve seen in social media, and a number of teachers have already criticized the EdWeek survey in its comment section because they personally are working more, but those comments don’t begin to represent a valid random sample, while EdWeek would generally want to make its survey as valid as possible.
So, are the majority of teachers working more or less now? Who knows?
In any event, other survey results are also attention-getting.
Over 80% of the respondents said that students’ current level of engagement with their schoolwork is somewhat or much lower than pre-COVID-19. And, in just the past two weeks 59% have noticed student engagement declining more. Teachers surveyed said 23% of their students are truant from the distance learning scene.
Some better techniques to deal with Emergency Distance Teaching are also starting to become apparent to educators. In the survey, “Live (synchronous) video conferencing tools such as Zoom” were found most effective for teaching math and English language arts, with 63% reporting this approach was very effective for teaching English language arts and 57% saying it works well for math, too.
Notably less effective are those “Printed packets on specific concepts provided by the school,” with only 40% feeling they work for English language arts and just 39% saying they produce well for math.
A number of other approaches for teaching English language arts were not so highly regarded. Use of digital novels, digital games, print versions of novels, on-demand video lessons offered by external providers and movies of books, among others, were all found very effective by fewer than 30% of the respondents.
Despite the obvious challenges of COVID-19, 60% or more of the teachers surveyed approved of the jobs they and their school staff were doing. EdWeek shows a comparison of those opinions to a National Education Association survey of parents done in April where only 48% thought principals and school staff were doing well and only 54% shared the same view of teacher performances.
Regarding the future, 70% of those surveyed indicated their school was already involved in planning scenarios for the next school year. However, 26% said no planning has occurred at all. A lack of planning at this point might be problematic going forward as most teachers’ contracts will end for the year in a few weeks and it can be difficult to get teachers involved with such planning over the summer. I think it will be much better if teachers, who are going to have to make whatever happens next year work, are involved in the process. If nothing else, the survey results show that teachers and principals are starting to form opinions about what does and does not work, and that knowledge needs to be included in planning going forward.
There is more in the survey, and if you have access to EdWeek (there might be a paywall on this article), it is worth a full look.