Are Teachers Ready for Distance Education?
Almost all schools around the world have been closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, in many countries, education was not completely stopped, and countries and schools turned to distance education practices. Various precautions have been taken to ensure that students are not completely disconnected from educational processes by using technological tools such as television, online platforms, internet and mobile applications. Following the closure of schools in many countries including Turkey began to distance learning very quickly. In this process, teachers are expected to support students academically and to participate in the distance education process. However, in many countries, teachers do not have the necessary readiness for distance education.
Many teachers who have never had such an experience until today and who have not received sufficient training on how to deal with such a crisis in pre-service and in-service training processes have been caught unprepared for this process. However, pedagogical methods and strategies to be used in distance education have to be different from those used in the classroom. In order to ensure the participation and motivation of students, to follow learning, to support students remotely, teachers need to use different methods and make more efforts. While arranging teaching according to the needs of different students is quite difficult even in the classroom environment, trying to provide it remotely - even if not enough preparation has been made - makes the job of teachers much more difficult and creates pressure on teachers.
Some of the teachers are completely disconnected from their students, the difficulties they will face when schools are reopened, the learning losses that will be experienced despite distance education, insufficient knowledge and skills for some of the students, and the misleading or misconceptions of parents or family members who are trying to support the student's learning possible results can cause anxiety in teachers. On the other hand, teachers at the other end of the spectrum have to cope with a much more intense workload, demands and expectations than in situations where schools are open and education is maintained in the classroom, with communication technologies being easily accessible. With the closure of the schools, parents' anxiety about learning and development of their children increases, and it becomes a demand for more interest from teachers and more time for their own children.
Teachers who continue their distance education efforts during this pandemic process and have a big role in compensating learning losses after the process should be supported especially in order to meet their professional needs. For this purpose, National Education Directorates in many cities in our country have started to organize various e-conferences to prepare their teachers for distance education. With these conferences given by field experts, teachers are informed on the subjects they need in distance education. At the beginning of these topics, course design and assessment-evaluation in distance education issues take the lead . With the trainings given to teachers on distance education, urgent distance education (emergency remote learning) processes are tried to be more efficient, which I believe is beneficial. My observations show that teachers view distance education more positively than before and feel the need to improve themselves. We will wait and see the sustainability of this situation.