– D.Ramakrishna Rao
The impact of Covid-19 on education has been staggering and all the students are out of the school. The most common response to this pandemic was an abrupt nationwide shutdown of schools. For the last three months we could not meet students and for at least 2 more months we are not sure of meeting students in person. In one way we will be having a disturbed, condensed, uncontrolled and different academic year in store.
As a teacher let me suggest the role of an acharya during immediate present and past Corona era. These are only suggestive and few, which can be developed further as per your requirement.
Technology – the saviour:
Present lock down situation, social distancing, restricting the gathering of students and teachers has forced us to search for alternative ways of reaching 2 the stake holders. The inconvenience caused by Corona (Mahamari) can be reduced to the minimum by adopting the latest available technology and we can interact face to face in a virtual environment. Technology can better be a way of life which networks the past through present to the future global trends.
Post Corona era would be quite different demanding an emergence of new global order as the social, economic, academic and cultural life got disturbed. A new look of economy, ecology and ethics is needed which is possible by our dedicated intervention and outreach. We should not ultimately allow digital divide to widen.
Getting connected to students:
First and topmost priority at present is to stay connected to all the students, parents and other stake holders to know about their welfare and to show our concern as responsible citizens. In this process the available technology and popular apps like Zoom, WebEx, TeamViewer, Microsoft teams, telephone, video conferencing, Google Meet, WhatsApp, telegram, etc. which provide platforms for unlimited meetings up to 100 people. Of course, many of the teachers have already become the members of Zoom university in a big way which provides the base to schools free of cost.
Longer time for restoration of normalcy:
Normalcy restoration may demand few more months for educational institutions because of lockdown aftermath fear, insecurity and psyche of the people. Even if schools are reopened full attendance is a question mark for a couple of months. This unprecedented situation is being handled by rescheduling annual calendar of academic activities by redefining the competencies and learning objectives.
Let us upskill & upgrade:
Rescheduling of working days and syllabus modification, more stress on online classes and the process of organizing virtual school or e-pathashala begins with our mindset to build our capacity to become tech-savvy adopting to the new learning pedagogy in the given situation. We should know the art of organizing interactive sessions, discussions and engaging students in activities and group work in virtual classes with fun, stress free and enjoyable learning environment. We should not only upgrade & up skill, empower and enrich ourselves but we should be trainers to train first generation online learners who are to adopt to the new system in an amicable way by providing emotional support, encouragement and ultimately assuring them this would become a necessity in future educational scenario.
Preparing the mindset of the parents and the students is the essential activity of every teacher. In case of availability of internet WhatsApp, Google Meet, Telegrams etc., the teacher can forward the guidelines to parents with a brief and simple explanation. Teachers should guide the parents and instruct them not to force their children to do these activities rather parents should create an atmosphere in the house that is conducive to learning and parents should try to participate in the activity initiating the children. Chapter wise e-content is available on e-pathashala, NROER (National Repository of Open Educational Resources) of NCERT and DIKSHA portal of Government of India, many other organizations of state government and private agencies as well.
In case of non-availability of internet teachers can explain the parents about each activity over the phone, through SMS and voice recorded messages. Teachers must continuously ensure that the activity has been conducted and followed up later.
Integrating Arts education and others with curriculum:
In this academic calendar art and physical education are integrated into subjects such as languages, mathematics and environmental studies. New subjects like disaster management, health care, hygiene, sanitation, etc. are also being introduced. Our Northeast regional specific arts, culture, social life, special environment, flora & fauna and civilization is to be protected, calibrated and integrated into the curriculum so that it can find a place in syllabus and ultimately in textbooks produced in the Northeast states of the country. At
primary level classes must be interspersed with performing arts, craft, dance, fun, games, yoga, story narration sessions. At secondary level, we have to organize on the spot contest to keep children enthusiastically engaged, which can also act as a feedback.
Competency based learning:
As teachers we should concentrate on competencies which are nothing but skills, abilities and knowledge which help to perform a task, face a challenge and solve a problem. It is nothing but outcome-based education. For that CBSE is coming out with a teacher training module on DIKSHA app which is to be used in our prashikshana vargas.
50% each on online and real classroom education:
Every teacher has to get ready as he is pushed and nudged to change, reform and ultimately transform. Global trends and everchanging technology forces us to make learning fast, innovate, creative and purposeful. Online education or e-learning make a student to learn at his will at any place, any time and convenience. Within 10 days of minimum training teachers are becoming experts in handling latest gadgets and apps. With 5G technology in the offing, learning could become a habit that is integrated into daily routine leading to constructive life style.
Not ignoring non-scholastic area:
To make the whole academic activity interesting, joyful, purposeful and value based, life skills are to be given top priority. Man making and Bharateeya way of leading life should be a part of the curriculum, as envisaged by the new National Education Policy – 2020 and Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD), Government of India.
Minimum home work:
As working days possibly be very minimum ranging from 100 to 120 for the academic year 2020-21, minimum homework and assignment is to be planned, in order to have stress free and joyful learning environment in the family.
Simplifying evaluation procedure:
Tests, evaluation and assessment process are to be revisited, relooked and quite simplified giving more importance to internal assessment, field activities, creativity, innovation and productivity.
Let us be content creators:
In the process of implementing e-pathashala and on line digital learning activity, let us not fall into trap of e-content marketeers. Let our teachers acquire critical thinking, communication, collaborating and creating skills to prepare their own lessons in an effective way, with quality content available from innumerable resources at zero cost from both government and nongovernmental agencies.
Confidence building measures and Jan jagaran:
Since this is a pan Indian problem, as the largest NGO working in the field of education, we have to build confidence among the people to resilience to face various threats from pandemic disease to extremist violence, climatic change, social insecurity, unemployment, psychological problems and social disorders. We have to organize outreach programmes and massive contact programmes to keep the morale of the people very high.
Let us see that our teachers are not outdated but updated for which we get ample time for online training, micro teaching procedures and self-practice during this special academic year. It is our duty to provide quality education to the next generation with digitalization – mindset, which would be the global order. Teacher with human face can never be replaced or supplemented but technically illiterate teacher becomes a question mark for future.
(Author has Retired Principal and National President of Vidya Bharati)