COVID 19 outbreak has taken the entire world by storm with a rising number of cases across the globe. In India, too, a nationwide lockdown has been called for. The current situation has left most industries perplexed; educational institutes, organisations and other public places have been temporarily shut.
Given the existing scenario, many schools, coaching institutes, and universities are adopting the virtual mode of teaching. Bharti Foundation, too, has adopted virtual teaching methods to ensure that the education of children across rural regions of India is not hampered. I am a part of Bharti Foundation, working as an English teacher in Satya Bharti Adarsh Sr. Sec. School, Sherpur Kalan, Punjab.
The challenge that we, as teachers, now face is to keep the students updated as per their normal curriculum, while staying remote. Thankfully, we are living in the technologically-advanced world and have many tools at our disposal for our problems concerning communication. No doubt, digital means of disseminating knowledge come with challenges but we did it. We have been using many means of digital communication but I can confidently say that WhatsApp has proven to be the easiest and most accessible application to stay in touch with the students. This is mainly because many families in remote villages do not have access to technology but WhatsApp is one medium which is comparatively easily accessible. Class-wise WhatsApp Groups are created with support from parents because of which, most of the children are now connected to their teachers and peers.
For my first online class, I took up a poem by Robert Frost – ‘A Dust of Snow’. I was able to teach the poem without any interruptions per se. There were certain negatives as well as positives that were observed while conducting classes online. There was some noise in the background, such as family members of the students talking loudly, ringing of phones, etc. but at the same time, there was complete attention coming from my students. Moreover, no one was asking permission to drink water, to go to the washroom and complaints regarding other students. Eventually, the background disturbances came down and now, the children’s rooms have developed into individual classrooms. We are also giving them routine tests to keep evaluating the progress, as we would have, had the situation been normal. I hope to cover a lot of my syllabus and get the students ready for the first periodic test of the new academic year.
The idea of the virtual classroom is a fairly new concept; and it is attracting the rural students. We are taking help and working together to improve and make virtual teaching easier. We are also being given online training sessions for our knowledge and skill enrichment. All in all, I believe that there are many initiatives being taken up that give us an array of learning opportunities, kindle new ideas for teaching and help us grow.
These days of quarantine have also acted as an opportunity to connect with oneself all over again. I would say that working in Quarantine is all about Discovering the “Undiscovered” in myself and in my students.
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