I had to adapt to a technology that I wasn’t familiar with overnight, most of the teachers like me didn’t get enough time to prepare and we were pushed to reinvent everything we knew about our jobs. Due to Covid the never seen before crisis, kids and parents are adapting to new virtual education as schools remain shut. Literally the whole education system is just one click away. So the learning was immense and it had to be done Asap to survive the digital world!
At 8.55 am I am ready with my laptop, study material, paper star and smiley cutouts for my students, double-check the connectivity, linkwork and ready for my online teaching sessions. I am a teacher to primary section. My students use Code Tantra and Zoom applications to access their lessons and activities. I brainstorm different ideas and plans for my online classes to keep my students engaging. Most of the kids are joined by their moms who are homemakers who leave their chores and sit with them. But since most have working parents it’s an uphill struggle. Besides the school vice principal often shows up to monitor the class, if a child is not attentive, she stops the class to correct him.
Parent’s response has been extreme, while some feel they should hang around the child during classes, others have become too demanding of teachers. Like currently due to heavy rains in Hyderabad the classes have been cancelled but parents expect us to take extra classes.
Half way through, I keep urging children to mute their microphone and wait for their turn to speak. Sometimes the kids are scribbling on the screen while the other time they keep playing with their headphones. There was an incident when a kid fell asleep during the class so I had to call his mother to know the concerns. If a child is not attentive or if the camera is off most of the time we contact parents to know the matter as to why the child was not attentive? To keep little ones concentrated on their computer screens is big task by itself. Each day is a new kind of day where I have to figure out how to deliver information to students in a way so they not only are present but participate actively.
I would like to share some do’s and don’ts every parent and child need to follow:
- Sit upright in a formal set up.
- Keep the camera at a little distance
- Do not eat during the class
- If possible wear headphones to avoid surrounding disturbance and distraction.
- A child should answer when it’s his turn.
- There should be good ventilation in room.
- Kids should be encouraged to blink eyes frequently as siting for long hours in front of screen can cause eyes to dry up quickly.
Students are holding so much inside them they want us to talk and know about their daily errand. Due to time constraint we have no choice but to straight away dive into the teaching which kids find hard to adjust. As a teacher we have to submit list of students we have made calls to, besides this we need to share snapshots of our daily assignments which are literally displaying bedsheets in the background by a rookie photographer.
Early morning to late night I get pretty interesting messages. Believe me, there are 6 am good morning messages, please check my homework messages, thank you, smileys, miss u and many more until I leave my food preparation and just sign the homework. I do miss the laughter and interaction, the hubbub of school life, their random questions. I miss them more than anything but I am happy they are safe and healthy.
I have learnt a lot from these ups and downs in these unusual times. The only challenge is that I am unable to see reactions of my student. With passing time students are aware how to nod on camera, how to mute unmute, they have learned to raise their hands virtually when asked a question. Also I have mastered techniques of sharing screen, writing on virtual white boards. I feel empowered and organized. I think the crisis has made both students and teachers stronger. We have become close and it feels a team effort.
Written by Raavya Sarda