New Areas of Study Emerging Post-COVID

Emily Coleman
Emily Coleman
ELL academic support specialist; Ph.D. candidate in Strategic Leadership and Administrative Studies with Education concentration
Teacher instructing his class while on camera.

When the world shut down nearly two years ago, the future seemed very uncertain for so many people. Would the unemployed be able to find work again? Would stores and restaurants survive? Would the children ever return to in-person school? Unquestionably, we have overcome the most challenging time our collective world has seen.

Although COVID-19 is far from over, we are re-entering our world – a changed world. Through all the chaos, new opportunities and more focus on already existing areas have emerged. Graduate programs are seeing upticks in certain degrees as a response to the pandemic.

Online Instruction

To say teachers were a thrown a curveball due to the pandemic is an understatement. The majority of teachers had little to no instruction in online teaching before the pandemic. For some teachers, they were told one day they were leaving their classrooms for just two weeks only to never return for an entire year. During that year, they jumped headfirst into teaching online – experimenting with new programs and technology along the way.

Because of this, veteran teachers and those new to the field decided to find graduate programs to become more skilled in the area of online instruction. They could see the unique needs and interests of students not being targeted with the online technology they were using. They knew that there had to be additional ways to make online lessons more engaging, interactive, and accessible for all their students.

School Counseling

The stress, fear, and anxiety that most adults felt as a result of the pandemic was not different for school children. Whether they lost a family member to COVID-19 or imagined the worst for their family and friends, students’ mental health was heavily impacted. School administrators, teachers, and parents saw what was happening to their students and children. The need for counseling skyrocketed during this time and is still continuing.

Teachers and other school staff members have come to recognize the warning signs of mental health needs, and some have decided to return to school to receive a degree in school counseling. School counselors play a vital role in the lives of so many students. Although it may seem challenging to get an additional degree, those who have know that they made the right choice. With so many school aged children suffering mentally due to the pandemic, there are those who know it is their calling to work with and guide these students through such challenging times.

Social Work

Social work is a profession that is dedicated to helping people – just like educators. Social workers assist those who may be at the lowest point of their lives. Teachers have seen what happens to children who may have lost their homes, may not have food in their refrigerator, or who have grown up in extreme poverty.

School social workers are the connection between school, home, and the community. Their ultimate goal is to ensure academic success for all children especially those who face great diversity in their out-of-school lives.

With so many parents losing their jobs and fearing the worst, more school social workers have been needed. They have been able to counsel children who were struggling with online learning. They have been able to assist families in finding food banks and clothing giveaways. School social workers have the ability and skills to understand the root causes of problems for students. Then, they work one-on-one with these children to help them overcome the struggles and find academic and mental health success.

School Administration

Although school administration is certainly not a new area of study, more and more professionals are choosing this path. With so many programs moving to completely online due to the pandemic, educators have been able to manage fitting these programs of study into their already busy lives. They have seen the need for great school leaders and have decided that want to be a part of this wonderful profession.

School administrators include a variety of different professions. These can be superintendents, directors of curriculum, and school principals. Furthermore, a new position has been created due to COVID-19 – the pandemic response coordinator. Although there are no formal degree programs for this type of position, those who have administrative experience were able to bring much needed organization, ideas, and plans to keep their schools functioning during these troubling times. Having leadership skills and the ability to work with others is what was and still needed in the position of pandemic response coordinator.

As the pandemic continues to affect schools and children, we will see even more needs arise. New positions may be created, and more trained professionals will be needed to serve our students ever changing needs.

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