Parents as our partners

Parents have always had significant involvement in their kids' education. With the move towards online teaching, the onus lies with the parents to make sure that students take their curriculum seriously. During the online classes, many teachers have come across parents peeping to find out how their child is responding to the teacher, and vice-versa.

This is the most opportune time for teachers to include these parents during the trying times that can ease this learning program. Connecting with the teachers, informing about the child's improvement, and suggesting ways to help the teachers during any sudden technology-induced crisis.

This is also the time to understand that both parents and teachers are working with handicaps. This is the time to not be angry and frustrated, but to explain to them how the teachers, too, are struggling and could use all the help to improve students’ situation.

It is because of the teachers’ absence that the parents have to take charge. Once the situation normalizes, the teachers will again monitor the child as before.

Sometimes, teaming up with the parents is also helpful because then this makes parents involved in the educating of the child. Having someone who understands children as much as a teacher does, and who is equally invested in their future would be better off working as a team and not on opposing sides.

Learning through one’s experiences

Gone are those days when students gulped down whatever they were fed mindlessly. Now, their curiosity has no bound and would like to explore aspect of a subject. Hence, experiential learning takes the front seat. However, as teachers have to move to online teaching, providing experiential learning without a physical class becomes challenging.

This is where the teachers have to be creative. A lesson plan that requires the students to act rather than sit idle can make the process seamless. For instance, when trying to teach about skeleton, they can ask the children to bring a leaf. During the class, the teacher can ask them to remove the green part so that the axil, veins and midrib are visible. The teachers can then explain how they are the leaf’s skeletal core and compare it to describe human skeleton. Asking them to find out about their own body’s bones to figure out how it supports us is another way to go about.

Similarly, when teaching about any subject, the teachers can involve the children to look around in their immediate environment to find comparisons. Children are inherently smart and can surprise the teachers with the number of examples they can find around them.

For most appropriate competency-based learning, a teacher needs to have a creative approach towards any subject. Teachers doing homework on the lesson plan and teaching through the program using tools at hand, as well as involving the children to explore and use their nascent but logical mind can deliver the best results. Let the children explore and learn through experiments and stay near them to mould them.

Encouraging self-assessment in students

Following the announcement of the new national education policy, learning will be more about competency based rather than about content. The present education system is based on content where the child mugs up for the exam and delivers the same. When the shift to competency happens, the child will be learning the concepts at ground levels rather than learning verbatim.

The CBSE chairperson, in the recent national conference of the board, announced the 2023 exams would be based on skill assessment.

In light of these announcements, the learning and teaching style has to be modified as well. In these times, when online classes are de rigueur, cannot completely understand whether the expected learning outcome have been met. Teachers must shift to multiple choice questions (MCQs) or more creative styles to analyse whether the student has been able to grasp what is being taught. This change in assessment would also help understand the competency of the pupils.

During training, the teachers are taught to inculcate knowledge, attitude and skill in the students. In today’s time, it will only be possible when the teachers entrust the students to self-learn the concepts. Whether it is a physical class or an online one, self-learning can help the students to understand the concepts better. Whenever they have doubts, the teachers can be available to clarify and let them explore the topic.

Likewise, self-assessment is an important skill. Teachers can provide MCQs to the student and ask him/her to solve them. Concurrently, the teacher can ask the parent to assess himself/herself with marks on the test. Even if the students can only answer 5 questions out of 10 questions given, they should be praised for their honest assessment, and encourage this trait. This attitude creates confidence in the student and makes him learn/her an important life skill that is self-assessment.

Tackling diversity in online classes

Our country is the perfect example of diversity. Be it linguistic, cultural, or culinary; every few kilometre, we find a profound change. And because it is a part of us, we have all learned to live with it. An ancient tale about the man who went to Lord Shiva complaining about different kinds of people around him is quite famous because of the beautiful lesson that it renders.

So the story goes where the man, frustrated with the people trying to pull him, visits Lord Shiva to find a solution. Hearing him, the Lord gives a loud laugh asking him to analyze how he is entangled in this and still is beautifully managing the whole situation.

He pointed out at the snake whirling around his neck, ever ready to eat the mice that his son rides on. Similarly, the Lord is supposed to have fire in his throat, but his wife, who sits on his head pours water to make the task arduous.

Lord Shiva advised the man to be like him and manage things because diversity is a part of us, and we can never survive without it.

In the same way as teachers, we also face diversity in our classes. There are students eager to learn and grasp the concept like a piece of cake. Some are slow learners, and others are reluctant to learn. In a physical classroom, all the teachers can deliver their jobs to the fullest because of the differential learning concept.

The same becomes difficult in an online session. Here the diversity in financial and social status proves to be challenging. Not all of your beloved students may be possessing a tab, laptop or even a smartphone. This condition can be upsetting for the teacher. However, we can't stop the process of learning. We must carry on assuming that everyone has the necessary gadgets and after that sought for ways to reach the left-out pupils.

A critical aspect of the National education policy is to empower the teacher. When teachers are trained to combat challenges when approaching such difficulties, they do not wither in trying times, and the transitions become seamless.

Another welcome change is in the education system where the student can opt for desired subjects even when it has nothing to do with the mainstream. Think of a child choosing for music with physics. It may sound odd, but it is soothing for the kid, and schooling shall become an exciting phase of life rather than a strenuous one.