Remote Teacher Job Responsibilities

By: Tonya Mead, PhD, MBA, M.Ed, Corporate Trainer and Behavioral Scientist

The job responsibilities of teachers, educators and administrators are changing rapidly with COVID-19 lockdowns, closures and social distancing governmental mandates.

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Teacher, Faculty, Educator, Instructor Remote Job Responsibilities and Principles

Some school districts, university campuses and state education agencies are adopting the following model or set of principles for remote work, work from home or virtual instruction to include:

  • In-person instruction, face-to-face instructional delivery, and reporting on-site (to campus or school facility) is the default option and is encouraged.
  • Remote work, virtual instruction, remote teaching assignments require prior approval and should not be assumed even when lockdowns and/or closures are mandated by governmental authorities.
  • Remote work, remote teaching assignments as an accommodation for a disability requires the submission of an accommodation request form.
  • Remote teachers, faculty, staff, and school administrators are responsible for maintaining internet connectivity while working from home, as such
  • Remote working approvals can be partially contingent upon adequate internet connectivity.
  • Remote work may not be available for all positions.
  • Limits to the number of days per work week a teacher, faculty member, educator or administrator can work off-site, remotely or work from home may be set by a direct supervisor.
  • Specific days by which instructors, teachers, faculty, educators, and administrators may work remotely can be established by a direct supervisor.
  • In person meetings may be required by the supervisor even if approved for remote work assignments.
  • Temporary changes to remote work approvals, schedules, hours worked from home or remotely, and specific days of the week remote work is allowed may be implemented to ensure coverage during peak periods, vacations, holidays and other times.

Supervisor Challenges of Teacher Remote Work, Working from Home, Virtual Instruction

In spite of these principles or guidelines to ease the adoption of remote work in the field of education, learning and instruction, supervisors are having problems with trust. Please see the article “Remote Managers are Having Trust Issues” published in the Harvard Business Review a (July 2020). In addition to lack of trust, managers find the task or job responsibility of supervising their subordinates remotely to be very challenging. In fact, some find that there is a human tendency to assume that subordinate teachers, faculty, staff, and instructors should be available at all times. This attitude runs the risk of disrupting the work-home-life balance of the supervised as well as the employee, manager or supervisor tasked with supervising others.

Parker, Knight and Keller, authors of the research appearing in the July 2020, issue of Harvard Business Review (HBR) paint a picture demonstrating that the following cycle.

  • Lack of trust,
  • Unreasonable expectations of 24/7 availability, leads to
  • Micromanagement, which turns into;
  • Increased job-related stress,
  • Reduced employee motivation, to result in
  • Lower employee productivity, and
  • Lower job satisfaction.

But, supervisors the researchers found and not the only ones troubled by the challenges related to remote teaching, virtual instruction and online learning. Please see below, the results of the HBR research highlighting the perceptions of the supervisee and remote work.

Supervisee Challenges of Teacher Remote Work, Working from Home, Virtual Instruction

HBR researchers surveyed 617 remote workers worldwide who were currently working from home four or more days per week. Here were their concerns.

  • Thirty-four percent felt their supervisors expressed a lack of confidence in their work knowledge, skills and abilities.
  • Almost fifty percent reported that they were expected (by a moderate amount or often) respond to electronic and telephone messages immediately.
  • Twenty-one percent felt that they were being closely monitored and constantly evaluated for their work.

Specific Challenges for Teachers, Faculty and Educator Working Remotely

A recent article appearing in Forbes titled, “What the work from home revolution means for higher education” makes the following recommendations to address the challenges of remote teacher job responsibilities.

  • Teacher Colleges of Education should be encouraged to equip future educators, faculty and teachers with the digital skills needed to conduct teaching virtually.
  • Digital soft skills, such as expressing tele-empathy, direct communication, verbal cues, active listening and remote conflict resolution is a must.
  • Incorporate the completion of a virtual or digital project internship into coursework required as a pre-requisite to matriculation.

Dr. Mead, PhD, MBA, MA is a consultant and blogger at specializing in human behavior, school and social psychology. She can be contacted at: tonya at ishareknowledge dot com