A teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others!!
The definition of the ‘new normal’ is very different from what we would have ever envisioned. The universal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is unfathomable. We are exploring the new possibilities and adapting to this “new normal” in all walks of life.
As we go through this unprecedented phase, we may choose to respond from our lowest or from our highest versions of self. And as they say “Great crises produce great deeds of courage”, we have seen some tremendous examples of valour from the healthcare sector as well as the education fraternity.
The academic year 2020-21 has been a strenuous one so far but the way educational institutes have recognised and fulfilled their responsibility, to provide care and guidance to the children, in these baffling times – is commendable. The schools have shown extreme resilience and have assured scholastic plans continue to be executed smoothly despite the challenges. All the educators have worked assiduously to develop virtual learning capabilities through online classes and are striving hard to make this a fruitful learning expedition.
To tide over the current COVID19 situation and to mitigate anticipated exigencies, schools immediately swung into action and started collaborating with technology partners, to augment teacher capability on virtual pedagogical strategies. Schools took several key measures for professional development and training of educators, to ensure they are conversant with the latest technology platforms. Support teams, online courses, training schedules and virtual meeting protocols were established, to carry on the school’s fundamental operations. All in all, the educators have been working overtime to ensure a seamless learning experience for your children.
The substitution of pedagogic instruction and traditional assessments with online content delivery, scrutiny and evaluation, undoubtedly demands increased workload on faculty and significantly more time than conventional teaching methods.
Online classes have definitely provided a forum for students and teachers to share ideas in a near real-time academic environment, but it is a daunting task to keep children focused in a virtual classroom set up as their concentration levels are bound to vary.
To ensure that an online class is impactful, a trainer needs to put in a lot of effort. Some of the very trivial things which were just a part of their daily job, in normal circumstances, suddenly became complicated and had whole new definitions. The tasks they were masters at, now needed to be executed differently, and required new skills. Planning synchronous as well as asynchronous activities for the subject, along with sharing feedback on each child’s work, over virtual learning platforms isn’t as simple as correcting a few notebooks. They had to upskill themselves continuously, to acquire new skills needed for this new way of teaching.
The lesson plans must be meticulous, to involve children meaningfully. They need to scan through so much of online content, filter out the most relevant sources for a particular topic and make them presentable and easy to understand for the children. They need to brainstorm ideas with peers virtually, and derive innovative ideas, to integrate fun with learning and retain children’s interest in online classes.
Teacher-student communication plays a crucial role in online sessions. The attitudes of children is significantly affected by the manner and degree of this interaction. Simple face-to face conversations with young children are now replaced by an online class setup with 30 to 40 restless learners, trying to get adjusted to this new mode of studies. It requires extreme patience and commitment from an educator to channelize these energies in the right direction.
It became even more challenging for teachers as they had additional tasks at personal end too, with their own kids at home and most of the support system being disturbed by the unusual circumstances in families. They had to switch between multiple roles and strive to give their best in each.
Handling emotional anxiety amongst children as well as parents also became an important aspect for teachers. They have not only handled kids in groups but also bonded with them personally through one-on-one virtual meetings so that the CONNECT is established and the child feels comfortable and is willing to open and express themselves.
They are under immense mental pressure also, as they realize that their conduct is constantly under the scanner of a parent sitting nearby, who can become judgemental quite easily. This new angle of being under a critic’s eye during the lectures has definitely added to their stress levels.
Even after long arduous working hours, teachers have embraced this new way of working with a smile. For them, it’s all about the kids. They keep doing it with dedication, for the difference they make in so many children’s lives each day. They endure all the hardships because they believe their purpose is much larger than themselves. Teaching is surely not everyone’s cup of tea. Only very special persons with solid mental ability and perseverance can manage so many kids and their parents.
Though schools have invested in several resources, to ensure this knowledge endeavour is successful, we must remember they do not have a magic wand! Our educators would not suddenly become experts in online training. They have been tweaking their teaching styles and methodologies, tirelessly, so that things are good for our children.
We must share their burden by being calm, compassionate towards educators and appreciate their splendid work. They alone cannot bring the transformation until the larger community supports them in their cause. We must instruct our children to be disciplined during online classes and most importantly, we should trust the teachers and give them the space they require to nurture our precious ones.
During this pandemic, most of us, be it grown-ups or children, have had to take a crash course in technology, time & stress management. The situation is unlikely to recover soon and virtual interactions will play a significant role in the times to come. So, it is critical for parents, teachers, students, leadership staff – to come together and ensure a sustained and purposeful virtual learning experience for our children.
We will surely come out of this stronger, wiser and smarter! We might arrive at a paradigm shift in the education sector and when we reflect upon this ordeal in future and say this was probably the best thing that happened to us educationally!