The Impact of Covid-19 on Part-time University English Teacher Wellness in Japan
Wendy M. Gough, Chiyuki Yanase, Colin Skeates, Bill Snyder
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Japanese universities were faced with shifting from face-to-face classes to emergency remote teaching (ERT) for the 2020 academic year on short notice. This sudden shift to ERT revealed how generally unprepared university administrations, students, and teachers were for holding online classes. Part-time English instructors were especially affected because they tend to work at multiple institutions, teach large numbers of classes, and receive less institutional support than full-time instructors. To understand how ERT affected these teachers, the presenters conducted a year-long research project that investigated part-time university English teacher emotional wellbeing. Each week the participants completed the International Positive Affect and Negative Affect Schedule--Short Form (IPANAS--SF) (Thompson, 2007) and wrote reflections on their feelings and emotions. Teaching is an emotion- laden profession at the best of times, and negative emotions might arise from, “unexpected changes, language-related concerns, less supportive leadership, excessive workload, others’, and one’s own expectations” (Gkonou, Dewaele, & King, 2020, p. 3).
In this plenary talk, the researchers will discuss the project, and how the above-mentioned factors contributed to negative emotions; mental and physical issues; anxiety; and stress related to occupational and personal factors while teaching online during the first year of the pandemic. We will then shift to a discussion of ways to promote wellness and resilience when adverse situations occur in our teaching environment, and conclude with presenting ideas about how institutions can be more supportive of part-time instructors in terms of clear communication, material support, and professional development opportunities.