Educators play critical roles in our communities, but since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, they’ve increasingly taken on roles more appropriate for other specialists, write Christy Tirrell-Corbin, executive director of UMD’s Center for Early Childhood Education and Intervention and Penn State educational psychology Assistant Professor Carlomagno Panlilio Ph.D. ’15 in a new essay in EdSurge.

Educators have become ad hoc counselors, social workers, nurses and community organizers—all functions that are sorely needed—but the load can be too much, write the researchers, whose Trauma Sensitive Pedagogy (TSP) project is studying ways the community can step in to help share it.

“(F)our months into the pandemic, every educator in our TSP project reported experiencing secondary traumatic stress as a result of the added burdens brought about by the pandemic. As we approach the grim one-year mark, the same educators continue to report high levels of traumatic stress, especially as they look to returning to their school buildings.

In addition to fulfilling their instructional duties, the educators we work with are juggling many intersecting issues that include providing support for the families of their students and managing their own families' pandemic-driven needs. Taken together, such a balancing act can take a toll on educators’ mental health and well-being. In fact, we have seen and heard first-hand how the stress of their COVID-related experiences has brought tears to educators’ eyes and a tremble in their voices.

Until we can implement a long-term solution, we must find short-term remedies to support children in under-resourced communities and, in turn, reduce the burden on our educators.

Read the rest in EdSurge.