Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Special Education and Literacy Studies

First Advisor

Sarah Summy

Second Advisor

Katherine LaLonde

Third Advisor

Rena VanDerwall


Teacher Morale, Teacher Retention, COVID-19, Online Learning, K-12 Education, Michigan


Teacher shortages have occurred in the United States over the past ten years and continue to rise (Darling-Hammond & Podolsky, 2019). Teacher shortages have continued to rise at an increased rate since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2020, multiple studies have addressed teacher morale and retention in the wake of a global pandemic (Matthews et al., 2022; Bill et al., 2022). Through a systematic review of the literature from the last three years, this review explored the factors most affecting teacher morale and retention in Michigan following the pandemic. The keywords used within the literature review were: teacher morale, teacher retention, COVID-19 and teachers, and online learning and teacher morale. Specifically explored were what school districts are currently doing to combat teacher turnover and increase retention. In the spring of 2020, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), and no one knew just how much the world of education and the condition of educators would change (Katella, 2021). White (2022) found that over 70% of educators in Michigan were unsatisfied with their working conditions. From fall 2021 to fall 2022, the percentage of educators in Michigan who said they wanted to leave the field of education grew from 11% in 2021 to 20%. A significant contributing factor stated by educators was that teacher shortages were a leading cause of their stress at work, resulting in them wanting to leave the field. The 2020-2021 Michigan school year had 63 more vacancies than the previous school year and 1,502 more temporary positions filled by not fully accredited individuals (MDE, 2022). This systematic literature review explored the factors most affecting teacher morale and retention following the pandemic as compared to just prior the pandemic in Michigan. Morale is defined in this study aligns with Merrium-Webster definition which is “the mental and emotional condition (as of enthusiasm, confidence, or loyalty) of an individual or group with regard to the function or tasks The Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Online Learning and Teacher Morale and What that Means for Students: A Systematic Review of the Literature Madison Thomas at hand”. This literature review attempted to answer the following research questions following a nine-step process to look deeper into this connection and the lasting effects on the field of education in Michigan.

R1: Through a systematic review of the literature what were the effects of COVID-19 on teacher morale in the K-12 setting?

R2: How did teacher morale affect K-12 students?

R3: How has the State of Michigan changed what they are doing to support educators after the pandemic?

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

Madison Thomas Thesis Presentation.pdf (10623 kB)
Defense Presentation