“The Internet network here is mostly patchy, so I had to look for a solution. Under no circumstances do I want my students inconvenienced.”
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Did you ever think that schooling would take place over screens rather than in classrooms?
I had imagined that it would happen someday in the distant future, but with COVID-19 and the consequent lockdown upending schools across the country, this has become the new normal.
As was anticipated, teachers rose to the occasion and transitioned to a remote learning environment with unprecedented speed. From WhatsApp classes to lessons via loudspeakers, they have gone above and beyond their duties to ensure that students don’t lose out and the classes continue unhindered.
Here are seven teachers, who are doing all they can in the face of uncertainty and helping their students keep up with studies during the COVID-19 lockdown.
1. Nursery Rhymes For These Strange Times
Cub Master Mrs Sunita Nagkirti of Scouts and Guides family is doing amazing work regarding awareness campaign in Hot Spot Area in Aurangabad to tackle the spread of coronavirus. Her initiative is really inspiring. @bsgnhq, @KirenRijiju pic.twitter.com/rtudvtveYq
— Om Prakash Bakoria (@ombakoria) May 13, 2020
A preschool teacher, Aurangabad-based Sunita Nagkirti, is also associated with the state’s Scout and Guide programme. Tasked with creating awareness about the pandemic in hotspot areas, especially slums, she created a Marathi nursery rhyme that teaches the young ones how to wash their hands properly.
In a video that was posted on Twitter, Nagkirti can be seen teaching the 20-second handwashing technique to a group of children.
“[The] children were worried when they saw bottles of sanitisers and handwash liquids. But I used some popular Marathi nursery rhymes and created a fun handwash song,” she said in an interview with Hindustan Times, adding that she would continue to visit the hotspots to teach them, even after the health crisis abates.
2. Lucknow teachers utilise WhatsApp to continue lessons
Digital classes have become all the rage in metro cities. For those who have easy access to Zoom, Skype and such other community calling apps, this is a novel but easy-to-grasp shift. However, many cannot afford the luxury of e-classrooms.
Faced with this very issue, six teachers in Bakshi-ka-Talab, an administrative block outside Lucknow came up with an innovative solution—WhatsApp classes! 500 students from 60 villages in the block registered for the lessons, which are conducted via videos, images of assignments and interactive sessions!
Speaking to India Today, Nandini, a part of the teachers’ group said, “We started searching the school records for names of parents who have mobiles and tried to find out if they are on WhatsApp… We started getting success after three weeks of our attempts, and the number of children in our network is growing.”
3. Classes on speakers, so students don’t drop out
Worried that the school closure would lead to a high drop-out wave, the Gajalpur government school in West Bengal collaborated with the Block Development Officer (BDO) and arranged for classes to be held via loudspeakers.
Teachers record the lessons, and they are broadcast to the students at regular school hours so that they can study from the comfort of their homes. Of course, this is not a foolproof method, but for the students who are keen on studying during the lockdown but don’t have access to online classes or videos, this ensures that their lessons continue without a hitch.
4. This Delhi headmistress who kept teachers and students engaged
Recognising the importance of following a fixed schedule during the day to avoid restlessness and lethargy, Pinky Gupta, the Headmistress of Navyug school, Darbhanga House (New Delhi) has drafted a routine for the teachers and students. She hopes that it will help them utilise their day well and also keep up with the lessons.
Her five-point programme includes the following:
- Getting everyone together for this school-from-home programme
- Organising a timetable that is fruitful but doesn’t gobble up the entire day
- Teachers assigning tasks to students as part of their studies
- Cold-calling students as a follow-up
- Giving feedback on assignments
5. Bringing back the radio for teachers and students
In Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, students who cannot access online virtual classes are turning to the radio for help.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, Hemant Katara, the headmaster of the Model English Medium Primary School said, “The radio programme aims at improving access to quality education for in-school and out-of-school students in government elementary schools in Uttar Pradesh using interactive radio instructions to deliver English lessons and teaching material on-air as well as promoting child-centred practices out of the classrooms, encourage the participation of parents, increase students retention rates and improve teaching quality and learning outcome.”
6. Exploring new online resources in Chennai
Femy Wasim teaches chemistry to classes 11 and 12 at the HLC International School in Chennai. The sudden lockdown ended her classroom sessions, and she was worried that students in these crucial grades would fall behind.
But she was quick to come up with a solution, thanks to the internet that has given her infinite opportunities to create, share and document study material.
Today, she holds live classes on meet.google.com; her reference materials are on Google drive and write down notes on a virtual blackboard. Of course, this is challenging, and she spends a significant amount of time preparing for her classes, exploring new resources and moving all her material online. But that is why Wasim and many other teachers like her are special. They happily walk the extra mile for their students, so that they don’t suffer.
7. Climbing new heights for the benefit of students
Every morning, Subrata Pati, a history teacher, climbs up the neem tree and parks himself to get internet connectivity to fullfill his responsibility to teach his students online on a platform made of bamboo. What a COVID hero! @RNTata2000 @BillGates @MamataOfficial pic.twitter.com/QM6fP2ZgjB
— Pinaki Chowdhury (@PinakiChowdhu10) April 21, 2020
Subrata Pati, a history teacher, moved from Kolkata to his native village in Ahanda, West Bengal during the COVID-19 lockdown. But he hadn’t resigned from his job as a teacher and still conducted online classes on his phone. When the fluctuating network in this remote area interfered with his flow, Pati came up with a jugaad solution.
He climbed atop a neem tree where the signal was reliable and started conducting classes from there.
“I couldn’t have shrugged off my responsibility as a teacher. The internet network here is mostly patchy, so I had to look for a solution… Sometimes the heat and the urge to pee bother me, but I am trying to adjust. Sometimes storms and thunderstorms damage the platform, but I try and fix it the next day. Under no circumstance I want my students to be inconvenienced,” he informed Times of India in an interview. On days when he has to conduct classes for over two hours, he carries food and water with him.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)