Every weekday morning, Paul Yenne sets up five different devices – including two laptops, an iPhone, and a screen wheel that projects video onto a big screen – to prepare for the 19 fifth-grade students who come to his room. class and the six who connect from your home.
The Colorado school district where Yenne works offers in-person and online classes simultaneously, with a teacher responsible for both as the Covid-19 pandemic affects all facets of education.
Yenne, 31, gives the lesson for the day, his eyes continually swinging between the students in front of him and those stacked on a virtual grid on a laptop at the front of the room.
Despite his desire to create a seamless classroom experience for both groups, one is inevitably left out, he said. If the technology breaks, students in his class have to wait for him to fix it, and if there’s a problem in person it’s the other way around, he says.
“The most exhausting thing is just trying to grab the attention in two different places and give them at least equal weight,” he said. “What drives me the most is just thinking, ‘I don’t know I’ve done my best for every child,’ and that’s what I try to do every day when I Between.”
While most K-12 schools have chosen to go online or in person at some point, the dual-service model is among the most labor-intensive, according to education experts. . Yet this is increasingly becoming the new normal across the country, and with less than a quarter of the school year having passed, many teachers say they are already exhausted.
They have received little training and resources are scarce, they say, but they fear speaking out could cost them their jobs.
“I think that kind of burnout that we had last year has kind of worsened, because now we’re being asked to basically do two jobs at a time,” Yenne said. “The big question right now is, ‘How long can we keep doing this?’
Afraid to speak
While many schools call this form of teaching “hybrid”, experts call it “simultaneous teaching” or “hyflex,” modes originally designed for university and graduate students.
Brian Beatty, associate professor at San Francisco State University who pioneered the hyflex program, said it was designed to have more than one mode of interaction in the same classroom and generally involve classroom modes. and online which can be synchronous or asynchronous.
The goal was to provide students who are not in the classroom with as good an educational experience as those who were, and it was intended for students who chose to be taught this way on a regular or frequent basis, a- he declared. The model was created for undergraduate and graduate adults who made the choice and were able to manage themselves.
“The context of the situation at the elementary level is so different from the situation we designed it for,” he said. “A lot of the principles can work, but the challenges are also much more extreme, especially when it comes to managing students.
Sophia Smith, a literary enrichment teacher for kindergarten to third-grade students in Des Plaines, Ill., Said her elementary school left little time for training and planning before teachers were dispatched. pushed into dual mode.
She said 40% of her students are online and she spends a lot of her time going back and forth between online students and students in class, leaving little time for meaningful teaching.
“It’s extremely chaotic,” she said, adding that if school officials visited her classroom, they would understand how their decisions about blended education actually affected teachers.
Smith is concerned that the model will become an accepted standard, mainly because teachers who struggle to keep up are afraid to speak out.
“We are afraid of losing our jobs,” she said. “We’re afraid the district will come back and treat us differently or say it differently, like, ‘No one else is complaining, so why is it you? “”
Smith said she was speaking out now because she wanted other teachers to feel more comfortable speaking.
Matthew Rhoads, education researcher and author of “Navigating the Toggled Term: Preparing Secondary Educators for Navigating Fall 2020 and Beyond,” said schools have added a live streaming component to their curriculum in a panicked effort to provide choice online to families. But much of the implementation has not been thought through, he said, leaving teachers to deal with the fallout.
Teachers are exhausted, said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the largest teachers’ unions in the country.
“It’s the worst of all worlds,” she said. “The choice to do this came down to a question of money and convenience, as it was certainly not a question of efficiency and education.”
Long term consequences
David Finkle, a ninth grade teacher at a Florida high school, said he couldn’t sleep despite losing energy after a full day of teaching online and in person. The nearly 30-year-old veteran teacher quit running, creatively writing, and doing one of the other activities he loves when school started in August.
“It was very difficult for me to focus on my other creative activities outside of school because school erases me,” he said, adding that it was difficult to keep up with the ranking because that planning lessons for both groups takes so long.
“I wish I could focus on a group of students,” he said.
Teachers report high levels of stress and burnout across the country, including Kansas, Michigan, and Arkansas. In Utah, the Salt Lake Tribune reported, principals say their teachers have panic attacks while juggling the two.
High levels of teacher stress affect not only students and the quality of their education, but the entire profession, said Christopher McCarthy, director of the department of educational psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.
“When teachers are under a lot of stress, they are also much more likely to leave the profession, which is a very bad outcome,” he said.
Already, 28% of educators said the Covid-19 pandemic made them more likely to retire prematurely or leave the profession, according to a national survey of educators released in August by the National Education Association, the largest the country’s teachers’ union.
Rhoads, the education researcher, said retaining high-caliber teachers is crucial, especially now, but if the hyflex model continues without adequate support, a massive shortage of teachers is inevitable.
Such an event would have far-reaching effects, accelerating the consolidation of school districts and prompting some states to lower their standards and licensing requirements for teachers, he said.
For example, the Missouri Board of Education passed an emergency rule in anticipation of a pandemic-related teacher shortage, which made it easier to become a replacement. Instead of 60 hours of college credit, eligible replacements only need a high school diploma, to complete a 20-hour online training course and pass a background check, according to the Associated Press.
Iowa has relaxed course requirements and lowered the minimum age for newly hired replacements from 21 to 20, the AP reported, and in Connecticut, students have been asked to step in as replacements.
Paige, a middle school teacher in Central Florida who didn’t want her full name used to protect her job, said teachers at her school received less than a week’s notice that they were going to teach in classroom and online simultaneously. They have not received any training on platforms or logistics, she said.
Since the start of the year, she has struggled with Internet accessibility and technical issues.
“We need more bandwidth,” she said. “I have five children who turn on the camera and suddenly nothing works in real time. We need more devices.”
She said teachers with dual roles should receive improved products, technology training, professional counseling and mentoring. Other teachers said a day or even a half day of planning would help.
McCarthy, the educational psychologist, said the best support teachers can get when the demands are high are the resources to deal with challenges.
“What’s going on right now is a lack of resources mixed with a lot of uncertainty,” he said, “and it’s a toxic mix”.