More than 40 percent of Australians say they have a greater appreciation for teachers and the wider teaching profession after a school year interrupted by lockdowns and transition to online learning, a new Monash University report shows.
In one of the largest surveys about the perceptions of schooling in Australia since the height of the pandemic, the Monash University report shows 41.6 percent of respondents said their perceptions of teachers’ work had improved as a direct result of Covid-19.
‘The Impact of Covid-19 on Perceptions of Australian Schooling’ report also found three-quarters of the 1,012 people surveyed were supportive of a flexible study model, where students have the option to take online classes, and 56.7 percent of people agreed that the shift to remote schooling during Covid was successful.
Support for free laptops to disadvantaged kids
A resounding 91.9 per cent of respondents also said it was important for students from low socio-economic households to be provided with subsidised or free access to laptops and other devices necessary to complete their schoolwork at home.
Dr Fiona Longmuir, Dr Amanda Heffernan, Dr Bertalan Magyar and Dr David Bright from Monash University’s Faculty of Education compiled the report.
“It is important to acknowledge this increase in positive perceptions of teachers’ work, given mounting evidence that the Covid-19 crisis has significantly increased the levels of stress and burnout among teachers across the world,” Dr Longmuir, Lecturer in Educational Leadership, said.
Many teachers have worked untenable hours
“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.
“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. 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.”
This study backs onto a comprehensive 2019 Monash Education report into the perceptions of teachers and teaching in Australia – the largest of its kind.
Divide in the perceptions of teaching profession
The survey of 2,444 Australian educators and members of the public highlighted a divide in the perceptions of teachers between the profession and the community. Seventy-one percent of teachers said the profession was unappreciated, despite public perceptions of teaching showing that 82 percent of people felt the teaching profession was respected.
“Our previous research about the Australian public’s perceptions of teaching showed a disconnect between teachers’ perceptions of low public respect and trust of teachers, compared with the high levels of trust and respect reported by the public,” Dr Longmuir said.
“With 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.”