Author: Darshana Kalyanpur
A few years back, if someone would have said that we could teach students sitting in our houses, we would not have believed it. But in 2020, this is the reality. Remote virtual teaching is the New Normal as we can put it. When remote teaching began in other parts of the world, I knew some day maybe we would be asked to do it as well, but how?
I was apprehensive, and I am sure many teachers around the world must have faced the same situation as teaching is not something that can be done looking at the screen and talking to students. Having said that, the parents would have their own doubts on how this system would work as well, for them their little ones would be sitting in front of the screen for 4 hours and expected to learn from it.
The thought kept running across my mind that it would not only be the students who are sitting and listening to me but given the age range of my students who are in grade 2, families are sitting and listening and analyzing me on my skills as well. But then I thought to myself, I have to be myself and not think of anything else that would dampen my spirit.
This shift for me was less about academics and more about the learning of new skills and ideas they would be acquiring during this time of isolation. It was tricky to conduct an online conference with a full class of 30 and do the same kind of fluent give and take that we were used to in our classroom. At the beginning of remote learning, I was concerned about getting students connected. I was checking to see if they logged on every day. The most important task on my mind was how to keep them glued to the chair when I cannot see them.
But gradually things fell into place, it became a normal routine to start with a prayer then have the tutor period to brief them about the day and talk to them in general. I tried teaching them in different styles and used different techniques. I am an IBPYP teacher and the focus in the PYP curriculum is more on hands on activities which was a huge challenge in the current scenario. The focus now was more on how to teach along with what to teach.
Giving students a choice to how they show their learning has been more successful than holding them to stricter requirements. Students were conducting their own research to share, gathering information and making their own bar graphs. At the start of remote learning, I focused on giving students lots of work to complete. I was worried they were missing out on content. As we went further along in remote learning, it was apparent that students and more than them the parents who were overwhelmed and frustrated. Instead of thinking about what work students missed, I focused on what students could continue to do and what they could be creating.
I made different cartoons while teaching them Math.
Introduced them to Perry the place value Robot, DOJOB the data man, Adam the addition boy, Steven even and odd Todd were a few to start with. Students would be curious to know who would they meet in Math.
Gradually I started with Brain break challenges before the start of Math, which I have at the end of the day, my 4th session. The brain break was a good booster for students who would enjoy this and look forward to do certain challenges before we would start off with Math. In this we would together do some hand and finger exercises which are good for brain and boosting memory. Tutor period became more of sharing each other’s talent. Students would post their video of singing, playing piano, presentation of something they enjoyed etc.
I kept exploring more teaching apps which would help me connect better with my students. Classkick was one such app in which students would do their assignment and I would be able to check it in real time. This was something we really enjoyed as I could see their work during the class and also check it at the same time and comment and help them if they were wrong. Google classroom was a platform which we used to share work and helped immensely.
After five weeks of remote teaching, one thing has not changed—keeping clear and constant communication with families and students as a priority for success. I have always had very strong relationships with parents and students. Now when I look back I feel, probably Virtual teaching wasn’t that bad as much as I thought it would be. I felt more connected to my students. So much of what we do is built on relationships and trust, and students still need to communicate with us to make this transition easier for them.
Now, I am pretty well plunged into the waters of Google Classroom, I have learned to manage my own time better by scheduling assignments at the end of the session. Now is the time to hold our students’ hands more than we might during a typical school day or week. They need us to be more compassionate. I have tried to be more empathetic toward each of my student and just take one day at a time. This pandemic shall end soon but this experience I will cherish always and will be etched in my heart forever.
Here are few interesting websites which have been made free for kids to be active while at home: