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Research project quantifies teacher concerns

September 15, 2020 Jen Janzen, ATA News Staff

Five minutes of teacher feedback could turn into a heap of insight for the Alberta Teachers’ Association as it conducts a Pandemic Pulse Research project this fall.

Administered weekly and taking place entirely online, the five-minute surveys will gather a quick pulse of the teaching profession, recording successes or challenges of school re-entry plans.

ATA president Jason Schilling says it’s important to keep tabs on how teachers are coping.

“Teaching and learning conditions in COVID-19 have been challenging and complex,” he said. “The Association will use the feedback we receive from teachers to inform our advocacy and our support.”

The ATA’s research staff is partnering with Alberta doctors and infectious disease specialists to administer the survey. There are two categories of respondents: a group of teachers and principals who will be regularly surveyed in order to gauge changing conditions throughout the year. A second, randomly-selected group of teachers and school leaders across Alberta will be the comparison population.

Results of each survey will be posted on the ATA website within 48 hours of the survey completion.

Highlights from the first survey, which took place from Aug. 28 to 31, include

  • Class sizes are large: 25 per cent of the respondents indicated that their largest classes will have 30 to 40 or more students, making physical distancing a significant (if not impossible) challenge.
  • It is estimated that 15 per cent of the classes across Alberta will have between 30 to 35 students, 8 per cent will have 35 to 40 students, and 3 per cent of teachers will be teaching classes with more than 40 students.
  • Seventy per cent of Alberta teachers did not receive two reusable masks from the Alberta government on their first day with all staff back in school buildings.
  • Given the last-minute changes in school jurisdictions, 27 per cent of teachers do not yet know their teaching assignment(s), and 70 per cent of schools are still working on their timetables for classes.
  • Generally, teachers are feeling demoralized about the Alberta school re-entry plan. Alberta teachers and school leaders found that their first week back in the school building was more difficult than expected (53 per cent).
  • Half (55 per cent) feel unhappy or very unhappy, and the levels of anxiety and exhaustion are both extremely high (90 per cent) for teachers and school leaders across Alberta.
  • A majority of respondents (65 per cent) would have preferred a return to Scenario 2, where in-school classes would have partially resumed with additional health measures. ❚

*Survey conducted with a sample size of more than 2,000 teachers and school leaders across Alberta and a confidence interval of plus or minus two per cent.

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