Teachers Feeling Strain of Splitting Attention For Hybrid Learning


Photo by Andrea Duggan

Ms. Boomer separates her energies between the people at home and the people in the room as they build balsa wood bridges.

Across the span of COVID-19, teachers and students have had to adapt to several new learning environments. It started as learning to succeed in a makeshift virtual environment, then, in September, a more robust but still fully virtual situation. By February and March, we had hybrid learning as students alternated between in school and at home, and now ⅔ of the students are in school full time while others stay home. Teachers’ stamina has had to grow in order to make sure everyone is heard. 

“I do often find my attention to be rather split trying to keep up with virtual students and in-person students,” explained creative writing and journalism teacher Andrea Duggan. Duggan projects the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra room on the smartboard screen in an effort to make the students all feel like a community but finds they still feel like two separate groups.  

“I’m missing some of the camaraderie we had when we were all virtual. There was more interaction among students. I’m not complaining, though,” she added. “I’m definitely connecting with students more when I can see their faces.”

Ms. Haley had a similar experience. “At the beginning of the school year, it was easier than hybrid because we were all on the same platform, but now with people on two different platforms, it can get tough. But, I tend to make sure everyone is acknowledged,” 

The New York Times ran a story about distance learning quoting several teachers on the subject. Among them Sarah Gross, a veteran high school English teacher in New Jersey. “I have NEVER been this exhausted,” Gross said in a Twitter thread, adding, “This is not sustainable.” 

Teachers have been stressed trying to keep up with their school work and make sure that they are keeping their personal time. Although teachers need to make sure that their students, as well as their classroom morale, are flourishing, unfortunately, it is more difficult than it sounds when half your class is on the other side of a screen.

“I read a post on Facebook by a fellow teacher that said ‘Classroom teaching and online teaching are two different jobs,” Ms. Duggan said. “I really felt it captured the main problem, which is time. We are doing two jobs in the amount of time allotted for one, and it definitely adds stress.”

 According to the APA, people work less efficiently when they are stressed. That could be part of what teachers are feeling and having to deal with. But even with everything that teachers have had to do in school, they still need personal time. Apparently, though, many of them use their personal time to plan their lessons.

NBC News ran a story back in October entitled, “Educators teaching during hybrid learning feel burned out.” In it, Educator David Finkle, a 9th grade teacher at a Florida Highschool said, “It’s been very hard for me to focus on my other creative stuff outside of school because school is wiping me out.” He also mentioned that “It’s difficult to keep up with grading because it takes so long to plan lessons for the two groups.” 

Teachers have been through what has probably been the most challenging year of their careers, whether it is their first year or they are veterans. Whatever next year throws at them, they’ve shown they can get through it.