The consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and the reopening of schools had placed a strain on many South African teachers. Photographer: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)
The consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and the reopening of schools had placed a strain on many South African teachers. Photographer: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

Teachers facing strain coping with the reopening of schools amid Covid-19

By Sukaina Ishmail Time of article published Jul 16, 2020

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Cape Town - The consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and the reopening of schools had placed a strain on many South African teachers.

In a webinar, hosted on Wednesday, participants spoke of the challenges while trying to adapt to educating learners in the best way possible.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Professor Anja Philipp said: “The work of teachers has changed tremendously to accommodate remote teaching and learning, while gradually moving back to contact teaching.”

Philipp said that teachers were experiencing emotional exhaustion and burnout from the present demands of their work, placing a toll on their well-being,

Rebecca Collie, an educational psychology researcher at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, said: “Job resources play an important role in reducing or mitigating the detrimental effects of job demands. Higher workloads are typically linked to reduced well-being.”

Collie said teachers underwent a rapid shift from person-to-person teaching to face-to-face teaching. This meant they had to change the content of their syllabus and their activities. It was also difficult to “reach” learners.

“Teachers are working very hard to minimise the interruptions (during lessons), which are very difficult; it’s very important for them to have a support network during this time,” she said.

Inkomazi Technical High School principal Ndabenhle Terry Mdluli said teachers and learners were not prepared to engage effectively during the pandemic.

“We didn’t know which learners had access (to learning material) and who studied during the lockdown because there were no mechanisms for the necessary communication with them during this period.

“The situation of reopening schools was further emotionally draining. (It) was very difficult for us to create a new imagination. Trying to be positive through the negative emotions was also part of burnout,” he said.

Mdluli said the basic education sector had faced the wrath of the novel coronavirus.

“Teachers must safeguard their well-being; they need to regulate their coping mechanisms in the right way to avoid possible adverse effects on their well-being,” he said

Teacher Nompumelelo Nzimande said many learners were unable to take part in lessons during remote learning sessions.

In addition, remote learning did not provide a true reflection of learners’ work to teachers because learners could be assisted by someone else at home.

“It helps to communicate as a teacher through the proper channels. If there is a committee, it is much easier for the matter to be taken to them, which can then be addressed to a principal. The principal is almost in the same situation as teachers,” said Nzimande.

@Sukainaish

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Cape Argus

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