Online Education? Teachers’ Struggle In The Times Of Pandemic Learning

One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, close to half the world’s students are home-bound and neck-deep in – online classes. What seemed like an alien concept, is a new norm. Online education was an unheard concept up until 2020.

Toddlers are pining to go out and play in open spaces. While teenagers and older children are suddenly missing the four walls of a class.

For most people working from home comes as a normal life – it is not the same story for all! With most schools turning to a distance mode of learning, online classes have become an absolute necessity. The difficulty of handling a completely new mode of teaching and making children adjust to it is taking a toll on our teachers. While initially most had vouched for a zero year across the country, but having said that a completely off mode from reading and mathematics for a child might do more harm than good!

Online education - 7 Teachers takeaway
Online education

The best education is not given to students; it is drawn out of them!

The impact of Covid-19 on education:

Schools are trying their best to keep up with the current situation by providing the best education material. But like they say, no amount of virtual learning can replace the fun and effectiveness of studies within the four walls of a classroom.

Children miss their schools, and teachers miss them even more. We are currently in the second year of what seems like a new normal, and it feels like another year to go back to how it was back in the day.

We at TCT decided to speak to seven teachers who are currently taking online classes. They spoke in length and breadth about their struggles, how they are coping up during these online classes. The responses are something that highlights two faces of the same coin- serious and hilariously funny!

Here’s what Indian teachers feel about online education!

Fun tête-à-tête with the teachers

What’s was your first reaction when you heard “School is going online”?

Reema Thukral: Being at home and doing nothing is just not my cup of tea, so when schools announced that they would be going for online classes I was a bit apprehensive but nonetheless elated!

Monisha Johar: When the school broke in the news of online classes I was full of shock. I was nervous and anxious at first. I used to wonder if I would be able to do justice to my students and to my profession or not!

Veena Khanna: It was honestly a nightmarish experience that came true for me. That is because I am not used to all gadgets and I don’t consider myself very tech-savvy. But coping up with the situation has only made me learn all these new things!

Dhwani: I was very happy and excited when I first heard this news. What kind of new learning apps will be launched, when will things return to normalcy – all these thoughts took a backseat by bringing in new visions of helping children cope up in times of pandemic helped her in teaching course!

Japna Sodhi: I think for many of us the main question was – is it really possible. I teach children who are very young between the age group of 3- 5 years. Whether they would be able to adapt to this, the screen time was a major deterrent for us. How to condense a three-hour school period into a 30-minute online session- that was a big question.

Conclusion: A teacher is a person who never says anything ONCE!

We shot 7 teachers. A candid and fun tête-à-tête

What is the most difficult part of online classes?

Bhavna Sharma: Managing home and classes simultaneously have become chaos. Almost every day a teacher is stressed, owing to preparation for online materials and checking up on tasks allocated to students. There are days when I spend almost 15-16 hours in front of the laptop. My classes and my daughters started at almost the same time. I am thankful to my mother in law who helps with my daughter’s online classes.

Japna Sodhi: I think there were two main challenges for me. The first one was getting accustomed to the medium. The second one was coming in front of a camera and getting used to sitting in front of a camera. Most teachers are not used to this and hence it was one of the kinds of struggle.

Sabhyata Sharma: In classrooms, we get instant reactions from students. But in online classes since most of the time, we don’t permit the video to be on, so, we don’t get to see their faces or even if they are absorbing whatsoever we are teaching them or even if they are paying attention or not!

Monisha Johar: Though I have overcome a lot from the initial phase, but the most difficult part is identifying students. Yes, students enter virtual classes with weird names- Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mr. Bean, Mia Khalifa!

Conclusion: There is no recipe to be a great teacher. That’s what is unique about them!

Has the stress factor increased due to these online classes?

Veena Khanna: Yes the stress factor is definitely there. By taking physical classes we are always there for parents and students. But in these times the stress of giving our best to them and keeping their level of satisfaction is not always possible.

Dhwani: It is like a lid that has just blown off from the top. So all the consolations which were given early on when the pandemic began like no traffic – No ugly Mumbai rains-were not consoling at all. That is because all the newness that this platform brought with it was so complex and so overwhelming. Continuously thinking of new ideas to explain new concepts and making sure each and every student understands it makes the stress factor shoot exponentially.

Reema Thukral: It has been a stress buster for me actually. Because I use my free time in researching and planning to come up with new ideas and content to keep the children engaged and happy in this whole virtual classroom scenario.

Japna Sodhi: You know some days it does get stressful, no matter how much a teacher is prepared with all the activities and online resources. That is because you are always second-guessing how the child will perceive, learn, and understand. But apart from this, all teachers have adapted to this pretty well.

Conclusion: Those who know, do. Those who understand, TEACH

Have you faced a resources problem (Internet issues/ laptop hardware issues)? What’s your take on this?

Bhavna Sharma: From my personal experience, I think I have been lucky not to have to face any internet or hardware issues! But yes of course my friends have faced this. It is difficult to spare a device where both husband and wife have the same working hours. It is during these times when either of them has to sacrifice a portion of their office hours so that their own children can attend online classes.

Veena Khanna: Online classes are a whole new scenario and due to the ongoing pandemic everyone has started getting dependant on online resources. Moreover, in one family there are not a lot of gadgets that are not available. Parents have one laptop/device each and sometimes they have to sacrifice their professional working hours so that their children can have smooth online classes.

Dhwani: I have not personally faced any issues because I have backups prepared well in time. But I have faced issues in creating resources that will be delivered to children who are working on a small computer or a limited data packet. The resource bank is still a work in progress across many schools, and I am trying my best to cater to all students in this limited time frame.

Conclusion: The greatest teacher is FAILURE is – Yoda

Has your personal life been affected owing to prepping for classes to maintaining everything online in the times of online teaching?

Monisha Johar: Big time! The worst part is your own CHILD GETS IGNORED to satisfy the needs of hundreds of others waiting anxiously for you every morning.

Sabhyata Sharma: In the beginning, yes it got affected. Managing household chores (as there was no house help because of lockdown) and online classes were a little overwhelming
initially as I wasn’t ready for either. Making the resource material from scratch is a time-consuming task.

Bhavna Sharma: Certainly. My child now knows that I take online classes. She is on the laptop she is taking classes! She is getting used to it. But the sad part is I am not able to teach my own child. House chores have suddenly taken a back seat. I am sometimes not able to sit with my daughter through her online classes and this puts me in a lot of guilt!

Conclusion: Know who you are, know it’s enough!

What are we willing to let go at this point to stay sane and also help kids?

Reema Thukral: It is very difficult to assess children with special needs through online classes. We are preparing different resources and worksheets which are skill-based and we try to have one of these classes separately.

Monisha johar: A lot many. Discipline, collaboration, creativity…

(You can’t evaluate.. authenticity lacks big time in online teaching-learning…

(The teachers can’t assess whether the child has done the task on his/her own or not) GIVING THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT ALL THE TIME!

(Ma’am, I couldn’t complete my work/didn’t attend classes from the past 2 days—no connectivity, power cut, can’t switch on my camera—unstable connection).

Conlcusion: You are making a difference every day.

What is your advice to parents?

Veena Khanna: Parents please keep calm because it is a temporary situation and will go away soon and everything is going to normal. Till that time we should not stress the kids over their performance or marks. For teachers also this is a whole new experience, so please keep calm and just go with the flow.

Bhavna Sharma: I guess change is always hard to accept and it has been equally hard for us as well. Truly speaking teachers who are seniors were the ones who have learned the most during this phase. The relationship is very harmonious that parents also understand your struggles. Parents should not feel bad about not being able to give time to their children in such stressful times. We have to fight this and we have come a long way from day one.

Sabhyata Sharma: As it is the students are very overwhelmed. They cannot go outside, they cannot meet their friends. Don’t force them to study all the time. Rather you should encourage them to utilize this time in developing new skills, pursuing a new hobby, and having fun when they get their break from online classes.

Monisha Johar: Just one advice.-Show empathy towards us!

Conclusion: Teachers make the world a better place.

How would you describe the current situation to kids (fragile and tender) who should be out there playing?

Monisha Johar: I have always been telling them to count it as a blessing in disguise. You wanted longer summer breaks, you have got them. And of course. THIS TOO SHALL PASS!

(but I really feel happy about the fact that they all are waiting badly for the schools to open).

Sabhyata Sharma: I know a lot of students whose parents are forcing them to join online tuition classes in the evenings. As it is children are a little overwhelmed in the present climate, as they can’t go out/socialize with their friends/ play outdoors. Parents must not put a burden on them to study all the time. Heavens are not going to fall if they get a lower score in one school year. Rather they should encourage them to develop new skills, read non-school-related material, and also have fun when they get a
break from their classes.

Veena Khanna: Parents should encourage kids to reduce screen time for a bit. They should encourage more physical games, be creative, do yoga.

Dhwani: What a child is learning is not what is there in the textbook. The most important skill every child has developed during this lockdown is keeping them occupied in the best possible way and taking knowledge through a computer screen without human touch. Parents, please don’t be too hard on them, they need your human touch, your warmth. This is the time that you are bridging the gap between the real world and them. 

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24 thoughts on “Online Education? Teachers’ Struggle In The Times Of Pandemic Learning”

  1. I Absolutely connect with the post this is an unprecedented situation. We have seen kids struggling from our and but never understood the situation from providers point of you. This is an eye opening post and I salute to the will of these teachers.

  2. This is a new situation for both kids and teachers and now we are all adapting. I must say teachers are doing commendable jobs at online classes and must appreciate them.

  3. Yes the real struggle for teachers is to sit in front of the camera for hours while online classes are given to different students at different timings.

  4. This current situation is difficult for us parents, teachers and kids alike, while as a parent we were stressing over lot of pressure build upon us as a parents, good to know the teachers side

  5. A very interesting post honestly. I really wanted to know what’s teachers take on this entire education going online thing.

  6. Teachers are really putting in great efforts. It’s on easy on the part of the teacher as well as students. But, with changing scenario one has to adapt new normals on life.

  7. I am sure the level of stress on teacher would be very high. Cause all of this is so new for all if us and then expecting teacher to complete the target curriculum of the day is big task.

  8. The way teachers have risen up to the occasion is AMAZING! I live in Mumbai and thats a city where houses are tiny. Despite that the teachers have ensured that during their classes there is zero noise around them. Loads and planning and preparation at the backend. I loved your post and saw the whole video. Great content, very thought provoking.

  9. Teachers, children, parents, everyone is struggling during this situation. We should not be hard on our kids as well as teachers because they are doing their best. Thanks for sharing teachers’ point of view during this difficult time.

  10. I completely empathize with teachers as being a trainer I know its not easy, no matter how well you prepare but the effectiveness depends upon the connectivity and lot of other factors. Nice to know their view points through your post.

  11. This new teaching-learning pattern is as difficult for teachers as for students and parents. My sis is a teacher and keeps telling me about the daily challenges she faces- be it internet issues to pressure from school /parents to thinking of new activities to keep kids attentive and engaged in the virtual set-up.

  12. I agree completely to this that teachers are actually putting so much efforts to make the online classes successful. All these are also new experience for them .. we should appreciate their struggle..

  13. I see how the teachers try to manage the 30+ kids online and it’s quite a tough job. Kids are interrupting, talking out of turn and chatting. To manage this online, I feel for my daughter’s teachers and know I wouldn’t be able to be cool and still go on teaching.

  14. This is seriously very important to understand that teachers are putting all their best effort to provide education to kids…I really liked the video and will share for sure

  15. School teachers haven’t been trained to take online classes. Period. The teaching method differs and so does the handling of kids and parents. Kudos to teachers for silently taking on this challenge. It really isn’t easy.

  16. Online education is truly challenging on so many levels for the teachers but they have adapted to the new normal so well. They are a true inspiration and hats off to their commitment and dedication in making it all work.

  17. Many experienced teachers had to undergo lot of technical trainings before being more informed before starting online teaching. As a parents we must collaborate and support teachers too. Many teachers are being bullied in online classes.

  18. Even I had also a talk with my kid’s teachers and I remember their words and worry when they were briefing their side. It is not at all easy for teachers too to handle all these new methods of teaching and I am happy that they are coming with great content.

  19. Online teaching proved that teachers are continuous learners and they leave no stone upturned to benefit their children.
    Glad to read various aspects of online teaching process.

  20. Yes online learning had its own sets of problems for both students and teachers. It was an interesting read to know how teachers feel about different aspects of online learning. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Thanks for writing this eye opening post. In the struggle to get acquainted with Online Learning and sympathizing with students and parents we forget that it is a new experience for teachers as well, and some of them are struggling too. Besides being teachers they are Mom’s, wives, daughters and need to take care of so many other responsibilities.

  22. It is definitely a new situation for teachers as well. Online learning cannot replicate in-person learning. But looking at the current scenario, this is the best anyone can expect.