A digitized world has led to a lot of change in our lives and with online school and work from home, teachers have had to adapt to this new normal too. In order to gain an understanding of how this journey has been, I decided to interview a teacher.
What grade and subject do you teach?
I am a 6th grade Science teacher.
What are the main problems that you have faced with online teaching?
I come from a generation that hasn’t grown with technology at our fingertips. We are used to a classroom full of children feet away from us, not hours of screen time. Several of my much older colleagues have spent hours tirelessly sitting with their children and learning about computers. Not just the basics, we have had to learn new tools to keep the attention of the students. We understand it is not the best situation for you to concentrate when you are lying in your bed in your pajamas. We have to keep being innovative and interactive to make sure that they are gaining knowledge from what is being taught. After all, for me, that is what this is about- not marks or grades but to make sure that my students gain knowledge.
A huge part of my subject is practical-based and without having all the equipment at home, a lot of experiments have been extremely difficult to conduct. It is very different in a laboratory setting where everyone is helping each other out. But we have been managing with basic equipment that is available at home or can be bought at your local grocery store.
Most students appreciate the efforts but there are a select few that cross the line of disrespect. I have had instances when students have typed in cuss words in the chatbox or anonymously written them in worksheets. We understand that these are difficult times and it can be frustrating at home but these kids need to understand that it is equally difficult for us. With the constant pressure to keep working more and more since “we are at home now,” the teachers are trying their best. We join hands with their parents to explain to them why what they are doing is wrong and the most basic thing one should expect is respect. They are kids, and it is our job as adults to help them grow as humans.
Teaching is often called a ‘noble profession’ but it is no secret that teachers are often not paid very well. With the ongoing pandemic, there have been a lot of pay cuts and delayed salaries, sometimes even by a month, and several of my very close friends have been struggling to make ends meet.
How have you been getting through these tough times?
It puts a huge smile on our faces when we get messages from our old students who remember us. It is such a privilege to have had an impact on a child’s life. We know that there is only so much we can do through a screen but we can try our best. We plan fun activities and use interesting apps and websites available. We have learned a lot about the possibilities of technology in the past year that we will use even after offline school starts again. Most importantly, we hope to see the smiling faces of our children in real life very soon.