Online learning can ease teacher burnout. In this post, read about four ways it can improve the quality of classroom life for educators in your school and district.
Teacher burnout is real, and the numbers are proving it.
Since 2016, more teachers have left the profession than joined. And it seems the pandemic accelerated this departure. A National Education Survey found that 32% of teachers noted the pandemic prompted them to consider leaving their profession. In addition to well-documented challenges teachers face every day–from nationwide pay shortages and understaffing, to a reduction in state-sponsored welfare benefits, and more–the burnout crisis manifests in mental health, too. A recent Rand survey from June 2021 suggests that teachers were 3 times more likely to report symptoms of depression than other adults.
This last point feels troubling–especially for young learners who need role models and safe spaces to talk through hard asks of help.
Yet more than its problems, the burnout trend further illuminates a simple yet complex truth: teachers’ jobs are just plain hard.
Beyond grading and leading discussions, teachers are tasked with a lot. They negotiate a matrix of happenings in and outside their classroom–which contribute to learning outcomes and development. In this matrix, they deliver sensitive feedback to a spectrum of learners. They develop curriculums mindful of diverse backgrounds and learning styles. And they confront intimate moments that add value to growth. While offering discernment for what’s important to learn–and what’s not–and then explain why (and how).
Above all else, though, teachers are tasked with carrying passion: bringing energy, love, and thoughtfulness to their classroom every day–to inspire students to take themselves seriously not just as learners, but as unique individuals.
So, back to the point: teachers’ jobs are just plain hard. And while successful education has long depended on teachers, online learning technology builds with burnout in mind.
Virtual and hybrid learning can support a teacher’s work experience–to aid the burnout crisis and improve quality of life. And this doesn’t just mean making busy work easier. Beyond administration, online learning strategies in K12 schools facilitate objectives of a classroom both directly and indirectly. And while online learning may not absolve burnout, it might at least help to abate symptoms.
While teachers may be miracle workers–even miracle workers need help. Here are 4 ways online learning can help fight teacher burnout at your school.
1. Automate Class Administration
New online learning platforms–like Class.com–equip teachers with tools to ease administration in virtual or hybrid settings. These tools free up a teacher’s most valuable asset: time.
To make classroom management easier, online learning offers attendance reporting and student participation tracking, which can be leveraged to engage students offline or during live sessions. Other features like integrated grade books for assignments help teachers track formative evaluation. In recording data with less effort, teachers can sweat busy work less and focus more on what matters most: their lessons and students.
2. Enhance Teacher-Parent Dialogue
Research shows that increasing teacher-parent dialogue improves student outcomes–and socializes the classroom to prevent teacher isolation. Relatedly, this 2015 essay from Communication Education suggests that medium plays an important role in this exchange (e.g. mode choice). In the study, teachers who used new media to maintain closer relationships with parents came to influence more productive outcomes with students. Among other things, it also notes that parents chose to communicate casually through emails but reserved video chats for complex conversations.
In today’s learning landscape, traditional K12 schools can use synchronous learning platforms like Class.com to support parent-teacher dialogue channels. Live synchronous conversation can promote flexible relationship-building and extract depth for sensitive topics. A multi-modular approach for dialogue could employ various synchronous and asynchronous modalities throughout the school year.
3. Facilitate Group-Based Pedagogical Learning
Traditional lecture-based teaching models are finding themselves obsolete compared to group-based pedagogical methods, like project work and peer-review. To support this new pedagogy, leverage online learning to facilitate group work in virtual and hybrid classrooms. This kind of learning emphasizes student independence and autonomy, which can aid burnout by structuring learning outcomes around asking students to share responsibility for what’s happening in class.
4. Leverage Online Learning for Higher Efficacy
Fluency in digital learning environments promotes academic efficacy and high self-esteem. Competency in digital applications has been shown–like in this 2021 Psychology Research and Behavior Management study–to decrease burnout and stress levels in the classroom. Similarly, this 2021 Brock University study suggests that teachers who use digital tools and systems before the Covid-19 pandemic were more likely to experience higher self-efficacy. If mastering digital tools remains a norm in modern society, our abilities to adapt to technological change will in part determine our anxieties. Leveraging online learning in your classroom can be a great way to help both students and teachers stay ahead of this curve.