Are we ready for ‘hybrid education’?

Kiran Sangeeta Murali

A lot has been said and done in the past year and a half, especially in the world of schooling and education–from traditional classroom teaching to online lectures, assessments and webinars.

Both teachers and students have been part of a major transition which, parents too have witnessed. With state governments giving permission to reopen regular school with necessary precautions, the scene will now move to what is being called the ‘hybrid’ method of learning which is an inter-dependent combination of online and offline classes. There has been a lot of debate on whether such an arrangement is required, whether it will be successful, whether it will truly help those in need. With every affected party (students, teachers and parents) having their own perspective, I would like to present a few points as a school psychologist-.

 Safety, security and protection of health and life of any person, be it student, teacher or coach is supremely important. No class, game, or event can give us good results if there is an underlying fear for life. Proper COVID precautions and protocols need to be maintained at all costs and at all times. Vaccination of staff has been made mandatory to attend to the needs of the students and school. 

After attending online classes for nearly a year and a half,  getting back slowly to the offline medium is certainly a welcome change for a majority of the students, teachers and parents but for some students to adapt to the whole new mental ‘makeup’ or ‘attitude’ to commit themselves to sit through the 40- minute  periods, average six classes a day in regular classrooms may seem a daunting task now. After all, these online classes were being provided in the comfort of their homes. Certainly,  somewhere there has been a considerable dilution in their outlook which shows glaringly in their casual approach towards learning (late logins in online-classes, frequent cameras off, poor participation in discussions, low quality of submissions, using unfair means in online assessments, etc., are some common complaints). Internet and screen addiction amongst children is now severe and most parents confess that there was little they could do to help their wards.

 Reorganizing and restructuring a student’s day bit by bit, a small step at a time will help them deal with their offline time-table gradually. Teachers and parents will have to ensure that there are no unreal expectations or stringent rules for at least the first few weeks of offline classes. Being flexible and mindful of the fact that everyone has gone through the pandemic, notably one of the toughest periods of humanity, we definitely will need some empathy and compassion to face what follows now. Patience will be a valuable trait for elders dealing with children. Their equanimity and perseverance in such recondite times will be crucial for progression.

 A goal when broken down in smaller, do-able steps shows better results. Focus on simple tasks such as their classroom behaviour and participation. A child who feels understood and appreciated will always perform better. Make them feel seen and heard, they missed this contact the most while attending their online classes. Laziness and carelessness have become common amongst a majority of children. Our intention should be to motivate them consciously and positively reinforce their efforts.

For issues like phone and internet addiction, educating the students and  providing interesting peer and family activities and projects would be helpful. Again, the key is the ‘wean-off’ strategy, truncating their online presence, consistently one day at a time. Games and sports would be a significant addition in the time-table to channelize their physical energy which in turn will alleviate their boredom.

Extended family time was one of the much desired side-effects of the pandemic lockdown. It is crucial not to disregard this aspect. Parents must ensure that positivity and bonhomie persists at home and otherwise too especially among young children.

It is worth mentioning here that if anything, the world has realized the importance of innovation and implementation of alternative education styles and methods. There has been no loss of the academic year 2020-2021 in most schools across the world. The dynamic shift in how teaching and learning takes place in schools and universities showcase that anything and everything is possible if we put our minds and efforts to make it happen.

Through this crisis and beyond whatever changes arise, we must embrace them to see where they lead us. No one said 2021-22 will be easy. This phase will have its own set of challenges, ups and downs. But, someday looking back at history, I am sure we all will concede that we survived the worst and our resilience only grew stronger with every step along the way. Educators, students, parents and nations achieved all that they did because we stood by each other throughout.

Both teachers and students have been part of a major transition which, parents too have witnessed. With state governments giving permission to reopen regular school with necessary precautions, the scene will now move to what is being called the ‘hybrid’ method of learning which is an inter-dependent combination of online and offline classes. There has been a lot of debate on whether such an arrangement is required, whether it will be successful, whether it will truly help those in need. With every affected party (students, teachers and parents) having their own perspective, I would like to present a few points as a school psychologist-.

 Safety, security and protection of health and life of any person, be it student, teacher or coach is supremely important. No class, game, or event can give us good results if there is an underlying fear for life. Proper COVID precautions and protocols need to be maintained at all costs and at all times. Vaccination of staff has been made mandatory to attend to the needs of the students and school. 

After attending online classes for nearly a year and a half,  getting back slowly to the offline medium is certainly a welcome change for a majority of the students, teachers and parents but for some students to adapt to the whole new mental ‘makeup’ or ‘attitude’ to commit themselves to sit through the 40- minute  periods, average six classes a day in regular classrooms may seem a daunting task now. After all, these online classes were being provided in the comfort of their homes. Certainly,  somewhere there has been a considerable dilution in their outlook which shows glaringly in their casual approach towards learning (late logins in online-classes, frequent cameras off, poor participation in discussions, low quality of submissions, using unfair means in online assessments, etc., are some common complaints). Internet and screen addiction amongst children is now severe and most parents confess that there was little they could do to help their wards.

 Reorganizing and restructuring a student’s day bit by bit, a small step at a time will help them deal with their offline time-table gradually. Teachers and parents will have to ensure that there are no unreal expectations or stringent rules for at least the first few weeks of offline classes. Being flexible and mindful of the fact that everyone has gone through the pandemic, notably one of the toughest periods of humanity, we definitely will need some empathy and compassion to face what follows now. Patience will be a valuable trait for elders dealing with children. Their equanimity and perseverance in such recondite times will be crucial for progression.

 A goal when broken down in smaller, do-able steps shows better results. Focus on simple tasks such as their classroom behaviour and participation. A child who feels understood and appreciated will always perform better. Make them feel seen and heard, they missed this contact the most while attending their online classes. Laziness and carelessness have become common amongst a majority of children. Our intention should be to motivate them consciously and positively reinforce their efforts.

For issues like phone and internet addiction, educating the students and  providing interesting peer and family activities and projects would be helpful. Again, the key is the ‘wean-off’ strategy, truncating their online presence, consistently one day at a time. Games and sports would be a significant addition in the time-table to channelize their physical energy which in turn will alleviate their boredom.

Extended family time was one of the much desired side-effects of the pandemic lockdown. It is crucial not to disregard this aspect. Parents must ensure that positivity and bonhomie persists at home and otherwise too especially among young children.

It is worth mentioning here that if anything, the world has realized the importance of innovation and implementation of alternative education styles and methods. There has been no loss of the academic year 2020-2021 in most schools across the world. The dynamic shift in how teaching and learning takes place in schools and universities showcase that anything and everything is possible if we put our minds and efforts to make it happen.

Through this crisis and beyond whatever changes arise, we must embrace them to see where they lead us. No one said 2021-22 will be easy. This phase will have its own set of challenges, ups and downs. But, someday looking back at history, I am sure we all will concede that we survived the worst and our resilience only grew stronger with every step along the way. Educators, students, parents and nations achieved all that they did because we stood by each other throughout.

A lot has been said and done in the past year and a half, especially in the world of schooling and education–from traditional classroom teaching to online lectures, assessments and webinars.

Both teachers and students have been part of a major transition which, parents too have witnessed. With state governments giving permission to reopen regular school with necessary precautions, the scene will now move to what is being called the ‘hybrid’ method of learning which is an inter-dependent combination of online and offline classes. There has been a lot of debate on whether such an arrangement is required, whether it will be successful, whether it will truly help those in need. With every affected party (students, teachers and parents) having their own perspective, I would like to present a few points as a school psychologist-.

 Safety, security and protection of health and life of any person, be it student, teacher or coach is supremely important. No class, game, or event can give us good results if there is an underlying fear for life. Proper COVID precautions and protocols need to be maintained at all costs and at all times. Vaccination of staff has been made mandatory to attend to the needs of the students and school. 

After attending online classes for nearly a year and a half,  getting back slowly to the offline medium is certainly a welcome change for a majority of the students, teachers and parents but for some students to adapt to the whole new mental ‘makeup’ or ‘attitude’ to commit themselves to sit through the 40- minute  periods, average six classes a day in regular classrooms may seem a daunting task now. After all, these online classes were being provided in the comfort of their homes. Certainly,  somewhere there has been a considerable dilution in their outlook which shows glaringly in their casual approach towards learning (late logins in online-classes, frequent cameras off, poor participation in discussions, low quality of submissions, using unfair means in online assessments, etc., are some common complaints). Internet and screen addiction amongst children is now severe and most parents confess that there was little they could do to help their wards.

 Reorganizing and restructuring a student’s day bit by bit, a small step at a time will help them deal with their offline time-table gradually. Teachers and parents will have to ensure that there are no unreal expectations or stringent rules for at least the first few weeks of offline classes. Being flexible and mindful of the fact that everyone has gone through the pandemic, notably one of the toughest periods of humanity, we definitely will need some empathy and compassion to face what follows now. Patience will be a valuable trait for elders dealing with children. Their equanimity and perseverance in such recondite times will be crucial for progression.

 A goal when broken down in smaller, do-able steps shows better results. Focus on simple tasks such as their classroom behaviour and participation. A child who feels understood and appreciated will always perform better. Make them feel seen and heard, they missed this contact the most while attending their online classes. Laziness and carelessness have become common amongst a majority of children. Our intention should be to motivate them consciously and positively reinforce their efforts.

For issues like phone and internet addiction, educating the students and  providing interesting peer and family activities and projects would be helpful. Again, the key is the ‘wean-off’ strategy, truncating their online presence, consistently one day at a time. Games and sports would be a significant addition in the time-table to channelize their physical energy which in turn will alleviate their boredom.

Extended family time was one of the much desired side-effects of the pandemic lockdown. It is crucial not to disregard this aspect. Parents must ensure that positivity and bonhomie persists at home and otherwise too especially among young children.

It is worth mentioning here that if anything, the world has realized the importance of innovation and implementation of alternative education styles and methods. There has been no loss of the academic year 2020-2021 in most schools across the world. The dynamic shift in how teaching and learning takes place in schools and universities showcase that anything and everything is possible if we put our minds and efforts to make it happen.

Through this crisis and beyond whatever changes arise, we must embrace them to see where they lead us. No one said 2021-22 will be easy. This phase will have its own set of challenges, ups and downs. But, someday looking back at history, I am sure we all will concede that we survived the worst and our resilience only grew stronger with every step along the way. Educators, students, parents and nations achieved all that they did because we stood by each other throughout.

The author is a certified guidance and counselling psychologist working as the School Counselor in the Yadavindra Public School, Patiala. She can be reached at [email protected]

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