The University of Winnipeg



New research examines how teachers cope with stress and change

Laura Sokal, pictured here in the classroom, is co-leading a study (photo credit)

Two professors from The University of Winnipeg Faculty of Education, Dr. Laura Sokal and Dr. Lesley Eblie Trudel, are leading a new study to understand factors associated with the need for Canadian teachers to address stress and maintain effectiveness while navigating COVID-19.

“One of the best ways to make a positive difference for students is to make a positive difference for teachers,” said Sokal. “If we want to figure out the best ways to support teachers in coping with stress and increasing their efficacy when teaching during a pandemic, we should ask them.”

So that’s exactly what they’re doing.  Through an online survey that launched April 22, Sokal and Trudel have asked teachers across the country about their experience navigating school closures and the sudden pivot to distance education. 

Leslie Eblie Trudel head shot

Lesley Eblie Trudel (Photo supplied)

In less than a week, they had close to 800 responses from across Canada, with more coming in every day.

The research team is thrilled with the positive response and as they reach out to teacher’s, teacher’s organizations, and school divisions across the country, they look forward to learning more about how educators are navigating this unique school year.

Armed with a better understanding of how teachers cope with stress and job demands while adapting to technology and change, Sokal and Trudel will make evidence-based recommendations for future pandemic waves that could occur.

“Given that we, as Canadians, haven’t been in this situation before, at a time when we could depend on technology as a resource, it is important to see how that factor affects the balance of resources and demands,” said Sokal. “Determining the most effective supports will in turn lead to better teaching, better student/teacher relationships, and better student achievement.”

They plan to collect responses until May 6, with follow-up surveys in June and September. They will also be digging deeper into the data through phone interviews to better understand a sub-sample of teacher’s unique situations and how they apply to the bigger picture.

“Ensuring teachers have adequate internal and external resources to meet the demands being placed on them will not only lead to better teacher health and well-being, but also have a positive impact on student achievement,” said Trudel. “Given that subsequent waves of COVID-19 are expected, it is important to understand the demands being placed on teachers so they can be equipped with the resources they need to help students succeed.”

Read more