Stress, anxiety and compassion fatigue in teachers in online education

The advent of the pandemic has brought in various changes to our everyday life, adjusting everything to the tagline ‘the new normal’ was comforting.  Online education is one such space where adjustments have not been easy for students and teachers. It’s been a year-long saga since we have shifted to online education that has created changes to how teachers function, providing students the same quality experience in education as in the offline curriculum and using technologies unfamiliar.  Today when we stand at the edge of the uncertainty of whether schools will open or not, we have the challenge to pay attention to which is the well-being of teachers. There have been accounts of teachers being victims of cyberbullying and harassment and their inability to manage the technology which has further led to heightened stress, anxiety, sleeplessness, and low self-esteem.

The saddening reality where death counts are threatening every experience in a pandemic, teachers are carrying out their jobs as usual like doctors they are trying to mask their emotional experiences of grief and loss of their loved ones which have further created mental health concerns that need to be addressed. Few suggestions that benefit the school community and the online education modality are listed below.

Auxiliary spaces to breathe after online classes

Teachers need to have spaces where they can rejuvenate and do extra than the usual teaching and doing the household chores. Playing games like Sudoku or Word Cross (available in newspapers) can be quite stimulating and reduce screen time immensely.

Creating teacher communities to declutter

Creating teacher’s community to practice resilience-building where they can talk and ventilate their emotions known and unknown. The group can together do simple activities like painting, collage, or singing, which helps socialize and enhance their sense of community.

Workshops for training with technology

The infinite world of technology is evolving and it is difficult for any generation to be adept with the constant changes that occur. Training and workshops become crucial for teachers to bring in their sense of agency and autonomy in classrooms. The administration and the tech start-ups can collaborate in networks to educate teachers and staff to utilize technology in its full sense.

Re-engineering curriculum designs

We have molded students’ behavior and teachers’ capacity to the existing models of education but we have not thought of changing the school curriculum and training. We have not yet answered the bigger questions that cater to the holistic evaluation and assessment of students. 

Acknowledging the mental health of teachers and staff no less part of the new normal. In one of the Harry Potter books Prof. Albus Dumbledore, the fictional Headmaster of wizards says. ‘Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if only one remembers to turn on the light.’  Therefore, such acts of care and compassion for your teachers suffering from emotional trauma would be like chasing away their dark shadows by lighting a comforting lamp.


Author: Sharanya Nair