Parents intervening, students switching off their cameras or playing games, these are some of the hiccups school teachers are facing while taking online lessons.
Amid the pandemic, the classroom is no longer what it used to be. Parents are attending classes (though off screen), something that is making the work of teachers more difficult. Schedules of most private schools are the same, the day begins with a morning assembly, and yoga online, followed by classes spread through the day.
For teachers, their day is dedicated to juggling several tasks, from handling their own students and teaching lessons, to addressing voice notes sent by parents.
Anuja Sharma, principal of DAV School in Sector 15 of Chandigarh, said teachers are true Covid warriors.
“Virtual classes have made education from all perspectives easily accessible to a child with the click of a button. But as every coin has its two sides, virtual classes are also full of many drawbacks,” she said.
Asked what are the challenges for teachers while they are teaching, she said, “Sometimes teachers have to face problems like students not taking lessons seriously, they switch off their cameras, play games and even mute their mikes. Sometimes parents also intervene and ask many questions. Assignments are also not submitted in time.”
Sharma further stated that the need of the hour is that parents keep a vigilant eye on the education of their children and cooperate with teachers.
Praveen Sharma, who teaches at The Gurukul, Zirakpur, said that while teaching, they have to sometimes face awkward situations, for example, when the entire family of a student sits down to watch her teach.
“The biggest challenge is time management. Classes need to be held within a given time frame and meeting the demanding deadlines by devoting uninterrupted hours in front of the computer. It’s a big challenge to give extra attention to hyperactive students especially teaching pre-primary students. Since they are not independent enough to handle the online classes, it becomes imperative for one of the parents to take out time and be present during the online sessions. We at times face awkwardness, to have the whole family watching us while teaching,” she said.
Teachers also feel that screen time for pre primary students is restricted and for that they have to go the extra mile to remain in touch with their students beyond online classes, especially the ones who are not very regular in attending the same.
“This means the teacher has to be available 24*7 to her students. I personally feel that not just teachers, even students face challenges such as lack of an academic environment at home, reduced social interaction with peers and dealing with distractions. I have come across situations where students are being disturbed by their siblings or the noise in the background,” she said.
Namrata Singh her fellow teacher added that now even if teachers prefer to take online classes from schools as disturbances at home are a plenty, it has become a 24 hour job for them to be constantly available for students and their parents over WhatsApp, which sometimes causes anxiety.
“We don’t have much personal time left. Teachers who are mothers are also taxed with both household work coupled with their own online teaching. The work pressure at both ends and kids at home take a toll on professional efficiency and make it a challenge to strike a balance between the two worlds. We do prefer taking classes from school as the disturbances are minimal and efficiency high but it has become a 24×7 job. With the digitization of education, teachers can be accessed at any time of the day that leave us with less personal time. There are no Sundays also as doubts of students keep pouring in,” she said.
Many teachers explained how shifting from traditional classrooms to virtual ones is sometimes difficult because students are not physically present.
“Many students are not equipped with the high bandwidth or the strong internet connection that online courses require, and thus fail to catch up with their virtual classmates. And that is why broken servers and low internet connectivity bars students from regularly attending their online classes, thus making them loose track of the course,” Principal Heena Sharma said.
Many teachers as well as students are facing the brunt, as the devices available for accessing online classrooms are limited.
School administrations said they often get frantic calls and mails complaining about the inability to attend online classes due to poor network.
Atul Khanna, director of Strawberry Fields High School, said that their teachers initially faced teething troubles, but children have settled down now.
“Engagement is better. They are more attentive now. Initially there were problems like attention span being limited and kids getting restless in front of the screen,” he added.
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