Education

Teaching in the time of COVID-19

The world as we know it has changed in the blink of an eye. Schools closed overnight, students were liberated from schools (but confined to their homes), and parents had to grapple with keeping children productive at home. In the stress of lockdown, handwashing and tracking the global spread of the virus, no one has paid heed to the sudden stress on that often neglected group — teachers. With schools remaining closed for an extended duration came the reality of online teaching. Suddenly, it was no longer a buzzword or a fancy edtech term. Now everyone has to do it. The problem is few know how.

There has been a huge surge in search phrases like “how to teach online”, “best online teaching platforms”, “online teaching tools”, and “online teaching techniques”.

Ground reality

Teachers who are intimidated by technology now have to take the bull by its horns. For many who are proficient at planning and teaching in the traditional classroom, planning for an online setting requires some re-learning.

Finding the right online teaching platform is just the first step. Learning how to use the various features correctly is important. But using a platform and its features to teach effectively and ensure that all students are indeed learning is paramount.

But more than anything, online classrooms have brought up the issues of classroom management. If teachers thought they had enough trouble keeping their classrooms in order earlier, that is nothing compared to the woes of remote classrooms. It is very sad to hear long-term educators asking for help with managing students online. How can I maintain discipline? How do I ensure students don’t tamper with my presentation? How can I prevent students from disrupting the class? Can students disrupt my class? How?

This is not limited to teachers of higher grades. Those who teach the pre-primary and primary grades are worried, too. How can I keep the children attentive? What length of class is appropriate for them? They’re so young, will online teaching even be effective for them? How can I ensure effectiveness?

For schools, training teachers to become adept at teaching online is a herculean task. Ensuring that they have the right hardware and good Internet connectivity is another. Helping teachers transition to virtual classrooms and essentially a brand-new way of doing things has virtually become a reality. No pun intended.

Many want to learn the right online teaching techniques and strategies to keep their students engaged. Many want to know which platform to use. Is it Zoom? But aren’t there privacy issues? What about Google Classrooms? Is that better than Zoom because it is an LMS? What’s an LMS? What about Microsoft Teams? Others want to know how to keep uninvited students, and trouble, out of their online classrooms. This is merely the beginning. Schools have to also give serious thought to planning and conducting online assessments and evaluating students online.

School readiness for online teaching is critical and schools are at varying levels in this journey. So, while parents are worrying about having the right hardware and set-up at home, let’s remember that school management and teachers are sorting out larger and important issues.

We’ve always sent our children to school. Now, the teachers are coming home. Whether we — or they — like it or not doesn’t matter. What matters is parents and teachers finding and establishing a new equilibrium and a new normal. Teachers and school administrators need the support and partnership of parents to achieve this.

The writer is co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Learning Matters Pvt. Ltd, a Bengaluru-based ed-tech company. Email contact@learningmatters.xyz

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 10:39:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/teaching-in-the-time-of-covid-19/article31766432.ece

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