When screens replace classrooms...

Teachers miss the joy of interacting with their students

September 04, 2020 11:53 pm | Updated 11:53 pm IST - Bengaluru

The cheery good morning wishes of students, small conversations with them in the corridors, discussions on matters beyond academics — all these are the things of nostalgia this Teachers’ Day.

Although teachers have adapted to online classes, they say that this medium has changed the role of a teacher and the objective of classes. Teachers say they no longer experience the joy of listening to their students come up with the right answers for their questions, as they constantly wonder if the students just googled the answers.

Samvartha Sahil, a freelance teacher who teaches screenplay writing, said that previously his most used phrase in the classes used to be “Am I making sense?” or “Are you able to understand?” Now, during online classes, he is constantly asking students, “Can you hear me?” or “Am I audible?”

“I fear classroom and education have shifted from understanding and making sense to hearing and being audible. Classes now are held merely for transmission of information,” he said. The medium limits the teacher’s role in nurturing students, he said.

Timsy Thomas, who teaches English for high school students at Harvest International School, said they miss the personal connect. She feels that in the current scenario, teachers are donning the role of “tutors”. “As teachers, we worked as mentors and counsellors, but we are unable to play this part during short online classes,” she said. Ms. Thomas, however, said teachers have made peace with it and are trying and use different online tools to make classes more interactive. “In fact, my students have helped me become more tech-savy and they suggest ways in which the classes can be more lively,” she said.

With online classes, many teachers have stretched working hours as the time they need to prepare for the classes has increased. Honey Chandra from Delhi Public School, Bengaluru North, said, “Earlier, we used to be at home by 5 p.m. But now we are constantly engaging with students and clearing their doubts on different platforms. On some days, I finish work at 1 a.m. after preparing for my online classes,” she said.

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