The Covid-19 pandemic has brought a dramatic transformation in the teaching-learning process where not only the tools but also the environs in which these tools are used have changed. Then, as the education fraternity has taken sojourn to digital space, teachers are almost forced to experience the most quaking change in how they function and bring about learning outcomes.
As the transition from offline to online mode was sudden due to the hasty decision of keeping students confined at home, teachers did not even get enough time to prepare for the unexpected change. To help their students learning, when they took the help of the widely-used social media like Whatsapp, Facebook, and Twitter, to make the matter worse, the nationwide complete lockdown was declared by the Prime Minister on March 24, 2020 for 21 long days.
This first-ever lockdown followed by the subsequent lockdowns required the teachers to use more advanced tools to ensure ‘quality’ online classes. The teachers had to look for more effective tools like Google Classroom and Google Meet to stimulate in-classroom experience.
Then, even though a sound knowledge of the new online learning system has become extremely important during this work-from-home time, being tech-savvy was not a prerequisite for most teaching jobs. So the shift was not easy for many of the teaching faculties. Moreover, ensuring a quality class without any interruption posed a big question before them.
I still remember the day our Principal rang me up and asked me to take classes through Google Classroom and Google Meet. Though it did not take me much effort, yet initially I felt on all my nerves why they say ‘we are afraid of change’.
A teacher’s fear about this new mode of teaching-learning is if he can impart the lesson as effective and engaging as he did in offline mode, if the students can follow it properly if the ever-concerned parents would be satisfied, and above all if he can retain the same strong connection with the students as before.
Indeed, the teachers have never been a frontline warrior in this pandemic time. Indeed, except for donating generously a share of their salary and extending some charity services to the pandemic-hit poor and needy people, perhaps teachers have not directly assisted the health sector.
Then their fight is intense and constant during this Covid age. They have been changing continuously to cope with the changing phases of educational environs and trying different tools to reach out meaningfully to the children, teens, and young adults, who we call our future. Their battle is a battle of self-enhancement and hence noiseless. And a silent warrior is not appreciated clamorously.
In this wearisome time when the health team is working putting their lives at risk, a teacher’s role may seem meagre and hence the blame is that teachers are ‘sitting at home on full pay in lockdown’! Yes, in this trying time, people do not have the heart to evaluate how they are burning the midnight oil in preparing videos, written exercises, and other visual media to ensure effective and engaging teaching.
Teachers’ miseries did not end with learning new tools of teaching. When offline classes were resumed after the first wave of the virus (it was in September 2020 for the colleges in Assam), they had to face some silly and undesirable situations.
For they deal with the teens!
Perhaps I won’t be wrong if I say our college students have a toddler mind in a teen body. Even after getting strict guidelines from the Government to maintain social distance and wear masks, they would sit closely with their friends pulling masks down at chin in the classroom. Wearing masks properly depends upon the teacher’s vigil on them.
In this pandemic time, it is a painful question— how many of the parents want their children to get a Covid test? To my disappointment, I have seen students escaping classes, and crying helplessly when the institutional head organizes the Covid test for them.
Catching a cold and cough has become shh from the time Covid-19 has hit our place. Some parents are still away from the understanding that they should not send their children to schools/colleges when they suffer from cold and fever.
Now referring to rules in every step slays the essence of a welcoming bond. Last year, following the outbreak of this deadly virus, the Chief Development Officer of Raebareli issued an order asking the officials and employees to stop using saliva to turn over pages of files and other documents. It was issued to curb the risk of spreading communicable diseases.
A punitive measure can be taken against the Government officials who will violate rules. But it is still a delicate question if the same can be done with the students who disgustingly turn the pages with saliva. If students do it with his/her exam answer scripts during the examination, will the invigilating teacher deny signing on their answer scripts? Probably no.
Here what matters most for a teacher is his duty, the student’s future, and above all the excellence of the institute that also depends on the performance of the students. His fear of getting infected must take a back seat.
Hence a teacher does not require protective gear to fight. For his fight is behind the scenes. Then, it is perennial…
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