The COVID-19 Pandemic and Teaching and Learning: Teachers' Perspectives on Providing Online Social Support and Academic Instruction in the USA

The COVID-19 Pandemic and Teaching and Learning: Teachers' Perspectives on Providing Online Social Support and Academic Instruction in the USA

DOI: 10.4018/979-8-3693-0453-2.ch009
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The authors present United States high school personnel perspectives on providing social support and academic instruction through a comprehensive distance learning (CDL) model during the COVID-19 pandemic. They use grounded theory methods to analyze focus group data and an iterative coding process to assess convergence and divergence of the data. Results highlight magnified disparities in students' access to distance-learning, the impacts of teachers' various social and technological connection strategies, teachers' ongoing integration of restorative practices, students' academic motivation, challenges with key components of instructional effectiveness, and the benefits of balancing social and academic supports. The authors provide recommendations for promoting equitable student engagement and motivation by tailoring academic content to students' lived experiences, re-evaluating assessment, and integrating social-emotional and academic supports at the high school level.
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Teaching and Learning Online During the Beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic

A small literature is steadily growing regarding teachers’ experiences of delivering online instruction during the beginning of the COVID pandemic. In Greece, researchers surveyed teachers regarding the factors they identified as central for effective online teaching and learning (Nikolopoulou & Kousloglou, 2022). Teachers reported the most important components included clear instruction, communication of time frames and course topics, and facilitation and encouragement. Research in the US illustrated that teacher support buffered students’ negative health outcomes associated with self-isolation at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic (Wright, & Wachs, 2022). Teachers, students, and parents in Chinese middle schools confirmed that teacher support was the most critical factor in student affective engagement in online schooling (Yang, Liu, Li, & Li, 2022), a finding echoed in a study of faculty support and students’ social concerns within higher education institutions in Oman (Al-Maskari, Al-Riyami, & Kunjumuhammed, 2022). The compilation of 45 education continuity stories from around the world documented by the OECD, the World Bank, Harvard’s Global Education Innovation Initiative and HundrED during the first wave of school closures between May 2020 and March 2021 (Vincent-Lancrin, Cobo Romaní, & Reimers, 2022) provide rich evidence of the innovative use of digital solutions aimed at academic learning, socio-emotional support, and teacher professional development. The studies above are important testaments to teachers’ global persistence in supporting students during the beginning of the COVID pandemic and thereby bolstering their social and academic well-being and buffering the worst psychological effects of self-isolation. Here we add to literature on the broad links between teacher support and student outcomes by illuminating the specific strategies through which teachers digitally built and maintained strong relationships with students. Further, the research presented here queries teachers’ use of these restorative strategies and their impacts on individual students and teachers as well as on a larger community of learners brought together virtually.

Key Terms in this Chapter

High School: In the USA, a school that typically comprises grades 9 through 12, attended after primary school or middle school.

Student Engagement: The extent to which a student values school-related outcomes and identifies with and participates in academic and non-academic school activities.

Social Emotional Learning: The process of developing the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are vital for school, work, and life success.

Restorative Practice: A philosophical framework and set of strategies that seek to build, continuously strengthen, and repair relationships within a community or institution (e.g., school, juvenile justice system).

Comprehensive Distance Learning: Comprehensive Distance Learning includes multimedia etc. communication and blended learning strategies, not solely digital/online learning. Students engaging in Comprehensive Distance Learning have access to standards-based, grade level-or-beyond Asynchronous educational materials. Schools engaging in Comprehensive Distance Learning will focus on closing persistent gaps and inequities while maintaining high expectations for students and staff.

Online Learning: A method of education whereby students learn in a fully virtual environment.

Academic Engagement: Students’ psychological effort and investment toward learning, understanding, or mastering the skills, crafts, or knowledge that schoolwork is intended to promote.

Zoom: A communications platform that allows users to connect with video, audio, phone, and chat. Using Zoom requires an internet connection and a supported device.

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