The use of social networks has become the main source of professional development for teachers since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020. Educational advisers have also been strongly called upon to support them in the rapid changes that they knew.
This is revealed by research on autonomous professional development among teachers in the context of the pandemic, led by independent researcher Viorica Dobrica-Tudor and educational consultant Alexandra Coutlée. Through this research, they wanted to confirm whether the context had led primary and secondary teachers to perfect their professional development and what resources had been used.
In fact, overnight, teachers were forced to rethink their teaching. Creation of distance learning paths, monitoring of tasks to be carried out by students, production of clear instructions and effective feedback were at the heart of the changes. In order to meet these challenges, teachers have indeed turned to different sources to support them in this adaptation.
In the end, three teacher profiles were identified:
- those whose professional development has relied mostly on interactions with known colleagues;
- those who instead relied on their own reflections and educational advisors;
- those who have been inspired by professional exchanges on social networks to develop their practice.
Social networks as online communities of practice
The researchers observed that teachers, looking for quick answers to their questions, naturally turned to social networks. Those who were already using them before the pandemic have increased their use. Those who did not use them first turned to their immediate entourage and the educational advisers in their milieu. Then, many also took their first steps online in search of concrete testimonials from colleagues on which to rely.
Thus, “most teachers have increased the frequency of use of social networks during the pandemic and do not plan to decrease it once the period of confinement has passed, which suggests lasting changes that will be integrated into daily practices” , reads the report.
In addition, the use of social networks would require greater self-confidence. Teachers who experienced more insecurity were more interested in “receiving educational tools and resources from educational advisers”.
“Our results should be used by pedagogical advisers to better support the development of skills allowing the adaptation of teaching practices to unusual situations. For example, the presence of pedagogical advisers on social networks could provide support and even guide the exchanges of the teachers who are there”, suggest the researchers at the end of the report.
In addition :
The report titled The function of educational adviser in Quebec, professors Nancy Granger and Suzanne Guillemette, from the department of education and training management at the University of Sherbrooke, with research assistant Bianca B.-Lamoureux, had already confirmed that the educational advisers played a great role with teachers during the pandemic, especially with regard to digital guidance, support and training.
Read more in this article already published in École branchée: Pedagogical advisers have become “digital guides” during the pandemic.