The dawn of the New Year 2020 has seen the outbreak of the global pandemic, the novel Coronavirus, or the Covid – 19. The schools all over are shut since March 2020. Education has changed dramatically, with the distinctive rise of e-learning, whereby teaching is undertaken remotely and on digital platforms.
Online teaching learning pedagogy is becoming the new normal due to this pandemic. Simulated teaching is slowly making inroads as if it offers an opportunity to conduct virtual classrooms and provides a learning platform, by being in the confines of our homes. Teachers have also upgraded their skills and risen to this challenge effectively. Still, they are not spared by the society.
A few days back a colleague of mine wrote on social media about the trying period teachers are going through and are still at the receiving end of the society. How true!
But earlier also some people perceive teachers as literally doing nothing. A group of people thinks teachers are not doing anything except going to school. Years back when I was young and was passionate about my new teaching job, a highly educated person told me “Oh! You are a teacher, no need to go to the school perhaps. Or even if you go to school you may start a side business of selling jute or mustard sheds in the local market thus utilising the second half of the day.”
Teachers are the most vulnerable group in society now and even earlier. The society is not ready to accept or appreciate how promptly the teachers acquire the knowledge of using the different apps or electronic media to reach out to their dear students.
All the teachers are busy in this process of online teaching forgetting their personal life, personal health, and mental condition. Some teachers had to upgrade their network system, buying new laptops, headphones /microphones, and upgraded their android mobile phones. Not to mention about the money invested by the poor teachers.
Even as virtual classes are going on in full swing ahead with the schools completing portions and conducting tests, teachers are finding online teaching taxing and unsatisfactory. The classes have especially taken a toll on those who teach lower primary sections. “In a classroom, it is difficult to hold the attention of students for more than 20 minutes. The situation is unimaginable during online classes, where we are just images on a screen,” said Neeraja Mathew, a teacher. According to her, the teachers have to put five hours worth of effort into a 40-minute online class. Indeed a difficult job!
I am personally in touch with many teachers and they are of the opinion that it is becoming difficult for them to manage both housework and online teaching. Sometimes that goes to the extent of ignoring their family members and kids leading to tensions in relationships. Screen time has increased for the teachers. Constantly working on laptops and smartphones, preparing notes in the form of PDF, PowerPoint Presentation, videos and audios, worksheets, question bank, checking assignments they even experience stress, tingling sensations, headaches, muscle fatigue, loss of vision etc. Students even sending their personal doubts and queries in their personal numbers and that way our mobile numbers are no longer personal. In some cases, it has been found that the students are sending their assignments or doubts in the late night or in the early morning. In the name of lockdown due to covid-19, the teachers even didn’t get the full summer vacation this year and even no weekends. And another big matter is cutting of monthly salaries or late payment of salaries in many private schools though they are teaching online, which is the only way of keeping the children connected with the daily studies.
People are going to the extent of taking out movements like “No school, no fees”, forgetting the fact that even the teacher has to run a family. Teachers are the unsung warriors who have fought with this pandemic by continuing the process of imparting education. They have faced immense criticism but nothing could stop them.
These employees should not get the salary even they are continuing with the online teaching which is the only communicative media left to upgrade the knowledge and to make them prepare for the examination in this unprecedented situation.
Last but not the least, I want to assure all the people and parents that all the teachers are continuing their work happily and they will do in future also for their students even when there is no hand holding by anyone. Teaching is considered to be a noble job and educators do not deal with files, they deal with lives. They just need a pat on the back sometimes, some motivation to pursue their effort.
“Teachers have three loves: love of learning, love of learners, and the love of bringing the first two loves together.” – Scott Hayden
The writer is the Head of the Department (Maths) Army Public School Basistha, Guwahati, and a National Awardee (Rashtrapati Puruskar).