Our nation’s teachers are facing unprecedented challenges this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some teachers are implementing new rules, procedures and classroom configurations to limit the spread of the illness. Others are creating entirely new online curricula for students who are learning from home. Many teachers are tasked with doing both at the same time, often without additional financial resources to make it all happen.
A recent survey of 1,000 U.S. teachers by the education nonprofit DonorsChoose found that 42% of teachers were planning to teach in a hybrid format this fall, with students undergoing a combination of online learning and in-person learning. Thirty-five percent were set to teach entirely remotely, with 8% teaching in person and 14% unsure at survey time. Eighty-six percent of teachers reported feeling uncertain, anxious and overwhelmed as they prepared for the school year, and 81% expect that their schools will be forced to go online only at some point this school year.
“I feel like waiting for answers is the hardest part,” notes one teacher who responded to the survey. “It is a wait-and-see with the health and safety of students, families and staff members always in the forefront.”
In the survey, teachers also revealed the resources they most need.
Teachers in the classroom: Cleaning supplies and PPE
Of those teachers who returned to the classroom, 79% said they need cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep their students healthy and safe. In fact, DonorsChoose — which allows teachers to create requests for school resources that the public can help fund — has seen a surge in teacher requests for hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes and air filters. Teachers have also been quick to request basic supplies like glue, scissors, crayons and pencils, since 72% of teachers report their schools are no longer allowing students to share materials.
Teachers online: Instructional technology
Many teachers began teaching online at the end of last school year. As school started this fall, 52% of teachers reported feeling more prepared to teach online than they did last spring, but there are still several challenges. The hardest part of teaching online, teachers report, is keeping students engaged. To do so, their greatest need is for instructional technology: laptops, tablets, document cameras and other technology to help them do demonstrations and keep their students interested in the content. Fifty-three percent of teachers also reported a greater need for technology for their students, so they can follow along at home.
All teachers: Professional development
For experienced teachers, the lessons they’ve built and refined over years are being recreated to work for online or socially distanced learning. In the survey, 41% of teachers said the professional development they need most is for online instruction techniques; 20% were interested in learning more about online tools and technology to help them become stronger at remote teaching.
All of these resource needs can add up quickly for teachers. “There will be a much greater need for classroom supplies as teachers have to change many things in their classrooms to keep materials, belongings and children separated,” said another teacher who responded to the survey. “This expense will fall on the teachers.”
Since July, over 350,000 people have helped fund more than 110,000 teacher requests on DonorsChoose to help teachers to have a strong year, whether they’re teaching at home or in the classroom. Still, there are nearly 50,000 teacher requests awaiting support.
To find a teacher request to support, visit www.donorschoose.org.