These teachers think ChatGPT can help them spend less time on writing reports – and more time with their students

  • Schools fear students will use AI to cheat, but some teachers think it’s an asset for educators.
  • Tools such as ChatGPT could help teachers reduce the workload of grading and writing reports.
  • ChatGPT is “going to save teachers a lot of work,” said middle school director Zak Cohen.

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Teachers are tired. They’re still dealing with the educational fallout after the pandemic shuttered many schools and they say they’re working long hours to help students catch up.

Zak Cohen, a middle school director based in Louisville, Kentucky, told Insider: “As a teacher, I am stretched thinner than I have ever been.”

However, he’s feeling positive about the future — partly because of tools such as artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT. “This is going to save teachers a lot of work,” he said.

He thinks ChatGPT could help teachers spend less time on tasks including grading papers, writing reports, and responding to emails, and spend more time actually teaching students.

He’s already advising his staff to use ChatGPT to streamline the process of compiling students’ annual reports by writing “templates” and using AI to fill in students’ names and notable achievements.

“My teachers have to write about 200 narrative reports every year,” said Cohen, which takes each one about 30 hours. 

He also thinks ChatGPT could help answer students’ questions and let help teachers “avoid getting bogged down in the infinite loop of late-night email exchanges.”

When it comes to grading — one of the most arduous yet dull tasks for teachers — AI promises “almost instantaneous feedback.” Cohen says this can help them better “understand which assignments are the most challenging” and quickly identify focus areas for further classwork. 

One day ChatGPT might even be able to handle “angry emails” from parents, he adds. 

Ultimately, Cohen told Insider, “ChatGPT has the potential to support teachers’ sanity and protect the sanctity of their time.”

Stephen Lockyer, who’s spent more than two decades as a primary teacher in the UK, echoes Cohen’s optimism.

In recent months, Locker told Insider he’s used a variety of AI tools to support his work.

He turned to controversial image-generator DALL-E, for example, to generate “enigmatic” learning aids. For a recent history class, he used the tool to create modern-day mugshots of King Henry VIII’s six wives.

He also shares Cohen’s hope that ChatGPT could cut out some of teachers’ boring backend work. “There’s an awful lot of paperwork involved in teaching,” Lockyer said. “I want to work as smart as possible, not as hard as possible.”

He recently used ChatGPT to generate lesson plans for a project on volcanoes. Lockyer thinks these plans, which took “less than a minute” to generate, would offer a “gigantic jumping-off point” that could eventually save hours of teachers’ time. 

—Stephen Lockyer (@mrlockyer) December 31, 2022

Lockyer also trialed the tool to automatically produce practical tasks and handouts for his students — including short questions about reading assignments designed to test comprehension.

Not everyone is as convinced about as Lockyer and Cohen, however. Some fear that the rise in artificial intelligence could make cheating easier — and New York City’s education department has already banned access to ChatGPT on all its networks and devices, Chalkbeat New York reported.

But Lockyer thinks educational leaders should “experiment a little bit” with ChatGPT to look for its positive potential. Used smartly, he thinks it could “get rid of the senseless grind” and allow teachers to spend more time with their students.

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sstacey@insider.com Stephanie Stacey