Virtual Learning and Teacher Mental Health

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Ellie Hamashima, Writer

While Teacher Appreciation Week comes to a close, we must recognize the turmoil and stress many teachers have felt through virtual learning. While the circumstances are less than ideal, there may be something we can do to help! Many students are unable physically and mentally to engage in class as they would in person, but if you are a student able to, a little can go a long way to helping teachers feel more appreciated. 

Many Green Hope teachers report that virtual learning has taken a toll on their mental health. Erin Peters puts the frustration many teachers are feeling into words, “Virtual learning is emotionally draining because it can be much more work yet we have more students struggling and failing. It’s a demoralizing feeling.” she says. Her feelings are not unusual, as many teachers record declining mental health during virtual learning. One teacher writes, “it can be lonely, students barely participate, looking at a screen with a bunch of letters and no faces, hard to do fun activities with little participation, I don’t really know my students like I would if we were in person.” Teachers are an essential part of the Green Hope community, but often their feelings are overlooked. While 2020 has been a whirlwind for everyone, their entire life has changed drastically. One teacher touches on this, writing, “Turning all of our classes virtual is a lot of work and, to make up for the gap, I’ve been working longer hours, and not getting enough sleep. Trying to avoid burnout has been a struggle because I genuinely want the best for my students, but I also need to be able to sustain this through the semester/year.” 

While you may be reading this filled with impotence, there are many things students can do to make an impact. When asked “What can students do to create a positive environment”, one teacher says “The fine line keeping all of the educators across the world from quitting right now is our students who are engaged and grateful. Make that line thicker. Say thank you in the chat as you leave, turn on your mic to say thank you, turn on your camera to wave goodbye, have your camera on during the class period so we can actually see a human face, engage with the lessons so we don’t feel like we’re just talking to ourselves. We know that you are all dealing with a pandemic and everything that it brings, just remember that we are too.”  Another teacher remarks that “Turning on your cameras, even for just a little bit during the discussion, really brightens a teacher’s day”, this response is echoed, as teacher after teacher urges students to participate in class and, if possible turn on their cameras. Obviously, some students find it impossible to turn their cameras on, whether it be lack of personal space or choppy wifi, but if you are mentally and physically able it could make a big difference.

In conclusion, Green Hope teachers deserve appreciation and empathy this holiday season. Many Green Hope teachers feel that virtual learning has taken a toll on their mental health, as they lack the connection they usually have with students. Students are encouraged to participate, stay engaged, and turn on their cameras if they are comfortable with doing so.