Lessons from the Pandemic: Supporting Educators Well-Being
- Written by CHEERS Team
Early Childhood Educator Well-Being
It is no secret that early childhood educators are essential in supporting the healthy development of future generations. And throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, educators navigated public health measures and virus transmission risks that enabled parents to return to work. We, the CHEERS team, walked alongside these educators, listening to their stories of closures, restarts, and ever-changing rules to keep children safe while struggling to create a sense of normality and safety for children. We collected these stories and shared the educator’s perspective in a new academic publication.1 Talking with educators about the challenges brought on by the pandemic highlighted distress experienced by early childhood educators as well as ways in which their well-being could be supported.
Did you know?
The well-being of educators is a key component to the quality of care provided in early learning environments.2
Some factors that impact educator well-being are emotional and financial health, as well as autonomy in their work.3 Our work found that educators had feelings of distress during the pandemic from uncertainty, financial stress, powerlessness, social disconnection, and being overworked.1
Alongside feeling of distress, we were amazed at the resilience the educators displayed. The source of resilience differed depending on the educator’s role within the child care environment. Teachers tended to use emotion-based (e.g., meditation, exercise) and avoidant-based (e.g., reading, watching TV) coping strategies to manage their well-being. On the other hand, directors attributed social connection and the ability to exercise autonomy to their feelings of well-being.
Coping strategies that are emotion or avoidant-based do not work well over the long term as they can lead to burnout.2 On the other hand, problem-solving resilience strategies are linked to feelings of autonomy and are beneficial to lowering stress.2 For these reasons, our study findings emphasize the importance of supporting teachers’ to access social connection and agency to reinforce their resilience and improve well-being.
READ MORE - about how the well-being of early childhood educators was affected during the pandemic and other lessons learned in the peer-reviewed article below:
Lafave, L., Webster, A. D., & McConnell, C. (2022). Early childhood educator well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic: A qualitative study and emic perspective. In Pattnaik, J. Renck Jalongo, M. (Eds.), The impact of COVID-19 on early childhood education and care. Educating the young child., vol. 18, pp. 193–212. Springer, Cham https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-96977-6_10
Cumming, T., Logan, H., & Wong, S. (2020). A critique of the discursive landscape: Challenging the invisibility of early childhood educators’ well-being. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 21(2), 96–110. https://doi.org/10.1177/1463949120928430
Cassidy, D. J., Lippard, C., King, E. K., & Lower, J. K. (2019). Improving the lives of teachers in the early care and education field to better support children and families. Family Relations: Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Science, 68, 288–297. https://doi.org/10.1111/fare.12362