Severe

IUB FINAL update: Power has been restored to residence halls, IMU and other areas. Full restoration expected soon. We continue to monitor the situation.

December 1, 2022, 9:42 PM EST

IUB FINAL update: Power has been restored to residence halls, IMU and other areas. Full restoration expected soon. We continue to monitor the situation.

Highlighting the challenges and triumphs of science teachers during the pandemic

A new book edited by Professor Valarie Akerson details the particular challenges educators faced trying to teach science during the COVID-19 pandemic - and how they connected with their students while continuing to teach.

Akerson, a Professor of Science Education, was part of a self-study team of science teachers and educators that met every two weeks last year to share insights and provide support to each other. After meeting with former student and professor Ingrid Carter and current student and science teacher Claire Cesljarev, they thought it would be a good idea to put all of their experiences together in a volume to share with others.

Science Education during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Tales from the Front Lines” is broken into three main sections: experiences of practicing teachers as they tried to maintain inquiry-based science lessons, experiences of two doctoral students, Qiu Zhong and Shukufe Rahman, who were teaching a science content course through the IU School of Education and studies of those teaching the science methods courses.

One of the most important findings was that in the process of engaging in the research, the instructors at all levels found support from each other. The importance of reflective teaching practice became clear to us all.

Valarie Akerson

The team heard similar stories as they spoke with science teachers: “Teachers of all levels were concerned about teaching science while social distancing or while being online. Science is best taught in a hands-on fashion, and teachers struggled with different modalities of teaching,” Akerson said. “Those who taught in a hybrid fashion were concerned that their students had poor attendance due to the pandemic, and often zoomed in with those who were in person. Teachers struggled with concentrating on the content they were responsible for teaching while they knew their students were concerned about COVID-19, and were facing many issues due to the pandemic. Teachers at all levels reported burnout and exhaustion.”

Sharing the struggles of these teachers contributes to the field by sharing how these teachers persisted during a catastrophe. The book also provides teaching methods the educators used with their students, Akerson added.

“The book shares stories of resilience and the balancing of multiple roles that each teacher held: parent, student, teacher, etc. One of the most important findings was that in the process of engaging in the research, the instructors at all levels found support from each other. The support aided not only their teaching practices, but also their mental health as they could share frustrations with teaching during the pandemic, as well as give and receive feedback about what they were teaching. The importance of reflective teaching practice became clear to us all,” she said.

On a personal level, Akerson hopes anyone who struggles teaching science at any level will read the book and find ideas on how to give and receive support in teaching during trying times.

“We also hope that policymakers will read it so they can see how difficult it was (and is) to teach during the pandemic, and hopefully influence higher respect for teachers,” she said. “This was a tough book for us all to contribute to as the research and the resulting stories are very personal to each of us. However, we all learned so much, and have a common bond from sharing these experiences of teaching science during COVID-19.”

Start your life-changing journey

Schedule a visit   Request information