We have reached the second last quarter of 2020 and what still remains constant are – Online classes and online education. We are running into our sixth month of eased lockdown, and schools have not opened yet. 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.
Each one of us is going through difficult times in terms of adjusting to the new normal. For most people working from home comes as a very normal thing- it is not the same story for all! With most schools turning to distance mode of learning, online classes have become the new normal. 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!
The best education is not given to students; it is drawn out of them!
That is when the Coronavirus caused schools to shut and gave birth to online classes. 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 school, and teachers miss it even more. We are currently in the sixth month ever since the lockdown started, and things still don’t look satisfactory till now. We at TCT decided to speak to a couple of 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 which 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 was 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 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 as to 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 for not having to face any internet or hardware issues! Bu 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 under 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 THEM BENEFIT OF 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 learnt 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 of 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.