Pandemic boosts respect for teachers

·2-min read

Australians have a new-found respect for teachers after a school year interrupted by lockdowns and transition to online learning.

A survey of more than 1000 people conducted by Monash University has found 41.6 per cent of them have a greater appreciation for the work of educators as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Perceptions of Australian Schooling report also found three-quarters of the 1012 Australians surveyed support flexible study models, where students have the option to take online classes.

More than half (56.7 per cent) agreed the shift to remote schooling during COVID-19 was successful.

A resounding 91.9 per cent said it was important for students from low socio-economic households to have subsidised or free access to laptops and other devices to study at home.

Co-author of the report Fiona Longmuir said it was important to acknowledge the increased positive perceptions of teachers' work, especially given evidence the pandemic has caused extra stress and burnout.

"Teachers have reported working untenable hours to ensure students maintain access to learning remotely, and in many countries have put their own health and safety at risk by being required to continue teaching in classrooms that are not COVID-safe," Dr Longmuir said.

"Importantly, our findings show a correlation between respondents who had a school-aged child at home and more positive perceptions of teachers' work during COVID-19.

"This suggests that people who experienced remote learning first-hand were more likely to have a more positive perception of teachers' work as a result."

The study backs onto a 2019 Monash Education report into the perceptions of teaching in Australia.

That survey of 2444 educators and members of the public highlighted a divide in perceptions of teachers between the profession and community.

Seventy-one per cent of teachers said they were unappreciated while 82 per cent of other respondants felt the profession was respected.

"With COVID-19 lockdowns and remote learning 'opening-up' the classroom to families and making teachers' work more visible to many parents, we wanted to see if these perceptions changed," Dr Longmuir said.

Parents who participated in the survey said the shift to remote learning allowed more family time, more flexibility in children's schedules, better parental understanding of learning, a reduction in anxiety and stress, and an increase in children's confidence.