S. S. Verma
The coronavirus pandemic has brought life to a standstill all over the world. Nearly 200 countries have reported closing of educational institutions. This pandemic has brought into focus how privileged some students are and how others have been left behind, it has also shown how important teachers are and how they can succeed, even in crisis, with the right technology and support system. These are challenging times not only for students, their parents and the teaching community, but for the education system as a whole. Many teachers, in private academic institutions, have already lost their jobs and future prospective teachers will not find it easy to get jobs both because of the present scenario and the growing inclination towards online learning. The teachers who continue to remain in the system are under constant stress to cope with the needs of the online teaching-learning process.
The process of teaching is changing a lot–instead of teaching what to think and learn, students must now be taught how to think and learn. Currently, the teacher’s job is not only to educate children but also to counsel them. Teachers teaching-from-home/school have to be well-versed and equipped with online teaching devices and material for teaching in order to stay grounded in this difficult time. Teachers have to listen and take care of students’ concerns about learning difficulties, learning pressure, lack of facilities, lack of time, etc. Teachers who are comfortable with classroom teaching have to compete with fantastic and highly creative teachers who have already been using online platforms to teach. At the highest level, a shift in the mindset is necessary to teach in this new paradigm. Hesitant teachers can start by being reasonable with themselves. It was not easy to change to or adopt distance learning overnight, but after some trial and error, the teaching community made it possible with their determination, dedication and desire to change.
The real points to consider are not the strict adherence to regular conditions and norms but how to provide a rich experience to all learners who are now without teachers beside them to monitor and encourage. Students, during online teaching sessions, won’t be able to work as productively, so if we can’t scale back we’ll be sending them work they cannot do. According to experts, what would normally take one class period to teach in the classroom will probably take twice as long during online teaching.
The teaching profession has no doubt been at the forefront in adapting to this change with so many innovative means being followed by the teachers to reach out to the students. Be it video lectures, video links to online classes, tests and assignment submissions, the teaching fraternity hasn’t shied away from its responsibilities. The new World Bank guidelines mention three key principles to strengthen teacher effectiveness during and in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic.
- To support teacher resilience: School systems must protect teacher jobs and salaries so that there is a motivated workforce ready to get students back to speed when schools reopen. Enhancing teacher intrinsic motivation and minimizing burnout is also important.
- To support teachers instructionally: Teachers must be equipped to assess students once they return to school so they can identify what key content and skills have been lost and need rebuilding – as well as detect warning signs of dropping out. Besides, teachers will also need professional development support to undertake effective remedial education.
- To support teachers technologically: Teachers should be made well equipped with technology and should also be trained to use technology effectively.
The author works in the Department of Physics, S.L.I.E.T., Longowal. He can be reached at [email protected]