Re-prioritizing Teachers’ Social Emotional Learning in Rural Schools Beyond Covid-19

Edwin Darrell De Klerk, June Monica Palmer, Alfred Modise


The inception of lockdowns by governments across the globe to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many disparities in rural societies, particularly on the African continent. The social, cultural, and psychological processes have elicited variations in teachers’ responses to the devastating pandemic, illuminating African cultural realities in the quest for creating quality delivery of teaching and learning in schools. When teachers regard themselves as transformative change agents and not merely as oppressed people, this confirms their social identities and cultures and afford them opportunities to engage in critical reflection on the messages they convey in their classrooms. This case study employs semiotic analysis to explore some socio-cultural messages and emotional behaviours teachers exchange unwittingly in schools. Interviews were conducted via e-mail, as face-to-face contact with the respondents was not possible. The findings indicate that teachers conceive of themselves as disempowered “lay people” who are ill-equipped to respond adequately to situations such as the coronavirus pandemic, but are, nonetheless, “accountable” to the communities they serve. As its contribution, this paper presents teachers with the Social-Emotional coping skills of individual awareness, social awareness, and self-discovery, to help them thrive during periods of uncertainty. A semiotic reflection on the learning environment may empower teachers with inclusive and transformative strategies for ensuring their own and learners’ emotional well-being in a non-threatening learning environment beyond COVID 19.


African cultural realities, COVID-19, semiotic interpretive approach, social emotional learning.

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