A survey conducted by the Centre for Teacher Accreditation (CENTA) revealed that the number of teachers across the country taking to online coaching has tripled over the two months. From 22% of teachers who were using online teaching methods before the country went under a lockdown in response to COVID-19, 76% of teachers now said they had taken to online teaching.
With virtual classes ranging from anywhere between 2 to 6 hours a day, it is not just the children but teachers as well who are trying to adjust to this new ‘normal.’ “We do hear of schools where teachers are facing challenges, not just because their craft has changed but also because online is not a direct substitution for the classroom,” says Prabha Dixit, Principal of Akshar Arbol.
According to Prabha, schools who had been using technology in regular teaching and learning even before the pandemic will find it easier to handle virtual teaching as compared to schools who’ve used technology only for administrative purposes. “I would not say learning new tools is a cakewalk, but teachers also need a training plan to keep their morale high,” she says.
Latha (name changed) works as a teacher in one of the reputed schools in Chennai. She points out that over the last two months, she and other teachers have been busy planning and preparing for the academic year to reopen. This included exploring various online platforms that can be leveraged for live classes online.
Latha and her colleagues have been sending e-copies of lessons in both text and audio format, lesson-based practice work and self assessment exercises and language enhancement exercises followed by the answer key through online portals and media to every student. The students are encouraged to seek clarifications via email.
She adds, “We have been attending a lot of webinars on how online teaching and learning can be made easy and glitch-free for both teachers and students. It looks and sounds promising but we are yet to experience it first hand.”
There are myriad challenges to overcome. “We face issues with technology and infrastructure, such as inconsistent WiFi speed and gadget malfunctioning. We also face issues due to limited gadgets available at home, which needs to be shared with everyone,” explains Latha, adding, “Our lifestyles, too, have become very sedentary. Extended screen time is a health hazard for us, given that there are no fixed working hours. Coordinating with colleagues is a challenge we face. We are hopeful that this situation is temporary.”