The Multifaceted Effects of Coronavirus in Our Education System

The Multifaceted Effects of Coronavirus in Our Education System

Bebe BakhtiarNot to state the obvious, but the coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly reshaped our education system. From school closures to the eruption of online teaching platforms, we may never return to what was our norm in academics. As a current teacher, I am quite concerned about where our education system is going under these conditions. I wanted to take a moment to share with you some of my biggest thoughts during this time. I also wanted to shed light onto what is going through the minds of educators today, both positive and negative.  

The Concerns:

Equality – The closure of schools also meant the closure of access for lots of students.

One of the biggest concerns to transitioning from in-person classes to online teaching is the inevitable digital divide that further widens the equality gap. Households with working parents may only have one computer, one laptop, or none at all. How can our students keep up with the class when these critical means of communication are inaccessible? In addition to the technological and academic downfalls, the resources that school institutions provide have yet to be replaced for many students. Cafeterias provide meals. Libraries provide an escape. Counselors provide guidance. Our students lost these resources once the doors closed. Typically, it is not the fortunate students who heavily depend on additional supports. It tends to be our students who need these resources the most who are hit the hardest.

Social and Emotional Support – When you take away a student’s network, you take away a part of who they are. 

student network Coronavirus

A big part of an adolescent’s identity is directly tied to their social network. Their friends shape a big part of their developmental process. This social circle they create within the walls of the schools is a huge support system. Many times, students confide in their friends before their families. Without these constant supportive outlets, how are they being affected emotionally? Sure, they can readjust through digital chats, starting a diary, or entrusting their families, for example. However, what if they choose not to? How are those needs being met? The mental and emotional states of our students are at risk by being locked and quarantined at home for extended periods of time without their accustomed supports. Imagine the potentially detrimental effects of losing your entire network on some of our students because of the coronavirus. Honestly, I lose sleep over the idea most nights. 

Lack of Skills – Should we expect teachers to possess the skills needed to engage students on these new digital platforms? 

In the past, many teacher programs did not focus on online teaching methods. Online programs have been a more recent addition to the curriculum in education. Unfortunately, many of us educators did not receive any formal training on the methodologies of online education. Sure, many teachers have picked up these skills along their careers. However, we cannot assume all teachers are equipped to handle the shift into digital teaching since the coronavirus. For those teachers, their workload has doubled. They need to figure out how to effectively reach out to students, while self-teaching the ins and outs of online platforms. Now, there is an additional stress to battle. Teachers are actively trying to figure out the best ways to support their students, but is anyone searching for ways to support our teachers?

The Positives:

Innovation – The opportunity to be creative and innovative is unprecedented. 

children being creative coronavirus

As I discussed, a handful of educators have struggled with virtual teaching; however, on the other end of the spectrum, there are some incredibly talented teachers who are succeeding in content delivery, curriculum design, and communication during this time. The videos, blogs, and self-guided materials these teachers create compare to nothing I have ever seen in the field. Many scholars have talked about the gamification of learning and the shift to working online has created the opportunity for many teachers to finally give this theory a chance. Some teachers have created group events with Kahoot, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, scavenger hunts, Zoom activities, and so much more. Considering that the younger generation is keen on using technology, this new innovative implementation of media in our curriculums could prove to increase students’ investment and engagement in education. 

Ease of Learning – A teacher’s dream: learning anywhere, anytime, and however they want! 

In education, we always try to make our classrooms student-centered. Usually, it is a huge challenge to cater the classroom environment and material to meet every student’s needs. Now, for those students who can access technology easily, education can happen however and at anytime they desire. Students can learn while sitting comfortably in their beds, sofas, dining tables, or even in their gardens at home. New material is only a click away. Additionally, they can follow lessons and activities at their own pace. It is remarkable that students are now in control of their pace and space. This new wave of digital teaching can allow students to make their own educational experiences as individualized as they please. This has been one of the biggest hurdles in teaching that can now be solved by remote learning. A student-centered education is the approach we all seek, and it has finally arrived! 

Reflection – When we are not balancing an active class of 30 students, we have time to take a breath and reflect.

active class of 30 students

One of the challenges of being a classroom teacher is multitasking. Any teacher will tell you that teaching while managing a classroom simultaneously is draining. One of the biggest downfalls of actively teaching while balancing classroom behavior is that a teacher rarely has time to sit and reflect individually. Between split-second decisions and juggling the attention of multiple students at once, we are constantly reacting to the environment around us. Now, our environments have changed and our opportunities to be a bit more in-control and proactive have come our way.

Between activities and online class sessions, we can take time to sit in silence and actively reflect and analyze what is happening with learning and how we are participating in a student’s journey. We can problem solve one at a time, rather than trying to put out multiple fires at once. Even though the workload has increased for many of us, we have finally been provided with time to stop, think, analyze, and decide. For me, it has a significant impact on my curriculum and presentation for my students. 

More Thoughts About the Multifaceted Effects of Coronavirus

We are currently in unprecedented times. While I am personally trying to stay optimistic and focus on these positives, there are so many more stressful factors to take into account. I could list ten more concerns off the top of my head to elongate this article into a mini book of thoughts. I have only left a fraction of what is on my mind for you to think about. There are so many things we can takeaway and utilize to help reshape the foundation of our future education because of the coronavirus. That will have to wait for my next post. 😉 

What I do want to conclude with, though, are some messages for those of you out there dealing with the coronavirus. 

If you are a student, keep up the good work. Communicate with your teachers and do not forget to stay driven and passionate about learning. You will get through this. 

If you are a teacher, you should be proud. You are doing phenomenal work and I only wish you could be appreciated and celebrated more than what society is giving you during this time. 

If you are a parent, support your teachers by supporting your kid. Step in and take this opportunity to be part of your child’s academics unlike ever before. 

If you are an administrator, check in on your teachers. Many are overwhelmed, worried, and heartbroken to be without students. Be the support they need.

And if you are a politician, you already know we are underfunded and underpaid. Fight harder.

*This post was written by me, a teacher, and is based on my own current experience of teaching during the coronavirus pandemic

by Bebe Bakhtiar

45 thoughts on “The Multifaceted Effects of Coronavirus in Our Education System

  1. I think that the coronavirus will change lost of think in our school systems. I would not want to be a teacher where I live they are opening elementary schools and I would not like to have to manage kids in midst of a pandemic. I’m keeping my kids at home because I can but I know people need to work and send their kids to school so I believe it’s very delicate situation.

  2. While things have definitely changed in the past few months, I think things will ultimately return to normal, although it may be a “new normal”. It is great to see new skills being developed. And it also gives kids a perspective of being “home schooled” So maybe they will be able to relate a little better to their peers who actually are homeschooled. At any rate, you lay out some great points for the pros and cons. It will be interesting to see what the future brings.

    1. I didn’t think of how students are now relating and empathizing with their homeschooled peers. What a great point! I also wonder what kind of resources are now being developed for homeschool teachers, since we are turning more to eLearning during this time. It absolutely makes you think about what the new norm will look like once we overcome this pandemic.

  3. I believe there’s always a way for people to find ideas to continue growing in all aspects. Although it may take a while and will go through uncomfortableness with this “new normal,” it’s our human nature to adjust eventually and form better ways and activities. But, we should keep our faith, all will be well and will be back to normal in God’s time.

  4. you make some very good points. i have been really impressed by some of the older teachers who’ve jumped in with the whole electronic learning without a fit. Good luck! keep up the good work.

    1. Impressive, indeed! I think most educators (elder and younger) are really developing some cutting edge resources for students to learn and grow. Thanks so much for your comment!

  5. I am not a teacher but a school counselor. I am taking online classes too. But the school managements are not fair enough here.

    1. I would love to hear your experiences as a counselor. What does the day to day look like for you? Are you able to reach most of your students? Is school management supporting you? If you feel comfortable with sharing, I’d love to know!

  6. Children can be so understanding, it’s sometimes surprising. I would not be surprised if school adapt better than most workplaces, we will just have to wait and see.

    1. You are so right. My experience has been similar- my students are showing flexibility and grit. I truly am impressed with their ability to handle (and succeed) anything thrown their way right now. It’s incredibly inspiring.

  7. This is such a difficult time for those in education. I am glad mine was done long ago and really feel for those in study at the moment x

  8. There is an emergence of digital platforms and online learning. It’s quite difficult but we all need to adapt to it.

    1. You are very right. The usage of digital platforms is a huge change and tricky to deal with, but I think it will provide some really interesting future opportunities for the world of academia.

  9. Coronavirus has really changed so much in our world. I l;ove that you focused on the positives as well as the challenges. I think we’re all getting more and more creative with what we do, especially in the education system.

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Brianne. Trying to stay positive as much as possible during these times and creativity is definitely one of them!

  10. Even though we are going through really difficult times I believe this will help many educational systems to improve and accept new technologies. Probably making the future works in education more innovative and different. I hope it is all for the best of new generations.

    1. I agree! I’m excited to see how future classroom will incorporate the new skills we’ve learned during this time. The push towards blended learning is absolutely something to keep an eye on.

  11. This situation has made it crucial that teachers and students adapt to this “new normal” of virutal learning. I think one of the positive effects that I hope will continue when schools are open again, is the creativity that has come out of trying to teach things that prove to be more challenging given the medium!

    1. I completely agree! I’ve found so many innovative resources online within the past couple of weeks. It’s helping inspire my craft and take it to the next level!

  12. It has been difficult for many families. My children actually been doing their school through an online virtual academy, so it wasn’t such a shock for them. But still now we are finding it difficult for them to play with other children during this time. We had outside resources such as field trips, and parks. But now those have been taken away. It can be very challenging.

    1. Yes, I feel like the social aspect and social development of students right now is highly at risk. Since you’ve been familiar with the online platform of schooling previously to COVID, have you seen much of a change in how platforms are operating? Are you seeing more resources and teaching styles for your kids, or is it about the same? I’d love to hear your perspective.

  13. There is always a pros and cons on everything. However, the recent changes gives a lot of opportunity to learn new in a new ways. We learn to become more adoptable and flexible.

  14. I too wonder where education in our country is heading towards. While online education is gaining ground what worries me is what you mention rightly is that it takes away the basic thrills of childhood, being with friends. Also in our country where my wife teaches is rural where children do not have access to computers at home, what happens to them. I hope this pandemic vanishes as fast as it came.

    1. Those concerns are very true. Access to resources and lack of social interactions is really taking a toll on our students, teachers, and communities. Fingers crossed the situation can be resolved and this pandemic gets put behind us!

  15. My mother is a teacher and she is definitely seeing the divide growing. The parents from the wealthier suburbs immediately created a learning support group to help each other out, while the poorer or refugee kids are stuck at home, often with multiple siblings. Being a special needs teacher, my mom has the job of calling the most vulnerable kids to check in and she says that they often don’t get to go to the park at all and just sit in front of the TV, while the children from more stable backgrounds are exploring nature, baking, crafting and learning with their parents.

    I would have loved quarantine at home with my family as a child, but unfortunately, that is far from everyone’s experience.

    1. It saddens me to know there is such a lack of opportunities for all of our children. This divide only grows larger as students grow older. Thank you mom for all she is doing in this trying time. Special needs teachers are very much over-extending in this time and we appreciate all they do!

  16. It’s great you are able to see the bright side of any situation even as hard current virus situation

  17. Great post! Administrators also just expected teachers to have the correct tools to teach from home. During this time, my three-year-old laptop suddenly died. The school doesn’t provide me with one. I’m stuck going to work with my husband each day to use the computer in his office. Luckily, he owns an essential business, and I’m able to do that.

    1. You are very correct! Many of my teacher friends have told me about their experiences and how admin has asked for collaboration and resources before asking if they have reliable devices and WIFI to contribute to the shift to online learning. I’m glad you had a back up plan to stay connected! Best of luck to you!

  18. Going through this time will change so many aspects of each industry. I think when it comes to the education system it will definitely incorporate more digital aspects and resources for the future.

  19. I have both friends and family that are teachers. Checking on them last week, I asked if they had died of boredom yet, not even considering that they are actually working much harder now. Which is exactly what they said. It’s difficult and they’re putting in more hours because they’re trying to identify the kids who need extra help or resources to continue learning adequately. That is a lot harder when a kid isn’t sitting in front of you in a classroom! It’s been a crazy time, and I’m also worried about how things will look if/when schools are opened back up. I was reading an article about what Canadian schools have published about their new policies, and it sounded more like a prison. Which is kind of scary because the policies were developed for an elementary school. Only time will tell, but I hope things improve. I’ve said a few times lately, if you know a teacher, now would be the time to really express appreciation for what they do!

    1. I’ve had similar experiences speaking to teachers- they are all up to their ears in work! Distance learning surely is using much more time than we originally thought, especially since the shift happened almost overnight. I’m not familiar with what’s happening within Canadian school systems, but if you still have the link to share- I’d love to take a look and educate myself. Thanks for the comment!

  20. Well written and informative. Thank you for sharing your perspective, specifically the positive notes on education at home.

  21. Thank you for sharing. This was very well written and hit close to home as I am a teacher and a mother of a 17 year old. We have encountered more than one struggle working/learning from home and we have every resource available in my home.

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