Tired of online classes, most of the teachers are happy about schools reopening and are excited to resume work in physical mode too but ensuring the safety of school children amidst the pandemic is a major concern for them. Teachers living with younger kids and elder parents are ready for their duty but fear taking the COVID-19 virus back home with them for vulnerable family members.
To ensure the safety of teachers and non-teaching staff at schools, the government has started vaccinating teachers on priority and Ministry of Education has recently revealed that over 80% of the staff has been already vaccinated with at least the first dose.
Moving out of house and travelling would be a tough decision, but tougher would be to see students miss on the learning outcomes, and worse if a student drops outs, fears Neha Dhiraj Bhalla, BM Gange Girl’s Senior Secondary School, Delhi. Bhalla. “Being a teacher is not just a profession it’s an integral part of our life. Our morning starts with the smile of students, our heart breaks when we see a tear in their eyes, we feel elated with their success," she said.
Teachers need to take care of themselves as well and the government too needs to give them a priority like medical staff, said Ankur Bhogayata, associate professor and head, faculty of engineering, Marwadi University. Bhogayata said, “Teachers are at a more considerable risk of getting infected as they will be now amongst the larger and concentrated crowd. They should get similar treatment to the medical and paramedical workers."
Keeping students safe and healthy and ensuring they maintain social distancing norms is a constant and huge responsibility, said Dr Rojalin Pradhan, Assistant Professor, Alliance School of Business. “We can get back to conventional methods of teaching. However, at the same time, it is a big responsibility of the teachers to look at how they will keep the students safe during this challenging time of COVID."
Ensuring Emotional Growth for Kids, a Motivaton for teachers
During this tough time, most teachers said they are ready to come out of their houses to ensure that the next generation meets not just academic but their emotional and behavioural goals. Prolonged school closure will not only keep students from underprivileged backgrounds away from school but also hamper the wellbeing of any child locked at home.
Even for kids who have access to online education and participating in virtual education, peer learning is a big miss. “Due to online education, students are not only suffering from learning loss but also a lack of social skills. In the world of offline education, students not only build their social-emotional health but also learn faster," says Divya Jain, curriculum leader, Middle School- Khaitan Public School, Ghaziabad. It is the motivation of offering that extra learning to kids which motivates her to step out of the house and teach in physical mode.
Teaching grade 1 students how to read and write online has not only been challenging, says Hannah White, Elementary School Teacher, Canadian International School, Bangalore. “If I had a choice, I would take in-person learning every single day. Witnessing the ‘ah ha’ moments, when dots connect and the confidence increases are such an important moment to celebrate with students," adds White.
The pandemic has highlighted the need for flexibility and more time for student-teacher interactions, says Vandana Kotian, Narayana e-techno School, Maharashtra. While schools in the state are not yet open Kotian is ready to teach in physical mode.
Voicing similar views, Sumita Vij, PGT English and cultural coordinator at Seth Anandram Jaipuria School, Ghaziabad said, “The personal relationships we build with students, and vibrancy of the classrooms, the debate, discussion, co-curricular activities, the passion as well as the presence of colleagues cannot be replicated in online classes."
“Nowadays, students’ questions increasingly revolve around file types, exports, and web troubleshooting and highlighting their personal stress of being in front of a screen. A sense of community has slowly disintegrated with zoom thumbnails," says Vaibhavi Kowshik, assistant professor, Institute of Design, JK Lakshmipat University, Jaipur.
It’s not all for children, Kartik Saxena, professor of Surgery, Manipal University College Malaysia misses reading body language and expressions of the class. “It is hard to do that in the online world. We are limited to what we see and hear on the camera," said Saxena for whom lectures are more impromptu and interactive in physical classes.