As the pandemic reeled in and made itself comfortable, it left teachers pretty uncomfortable having to take online classes, handle half a dozen new apps, handle parents watching their every move, and while doing all this, not lose their cool!
Let’s take a quick look at the key qualities/ skills that helped teachers get through this difficult phase.
Without a doubt, this became the No. 1 requirement. Teachers officially moved from the paper-pen mode to the soft copy mode. They quickly learned the nuances of online video sharing platforms such as Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and the like. They had to master Learning Management Systems to take attendance, post worksheets and lessons, receive assignments, make corrections and communicate all of this smoothly with parents.
What was considered a good-to-have now became a basic everyday necessity. This included good internet speed, a laptop, a decent camera, and a microphone set up all became must-haves. Naturally, the skill to handle these gadgets smoothly during online sessions became a prerequisite.
“I can now call myself tech-savvy but it was not so when the pandemic happened. I got this confidence after a lot of skill training & practice. I am grateful to my school for giving me appropriate teacher training to do online classes and also communicate with parents via learning management software. Without this skill, I could lose my job”, shares Mitha Vashist of Gokul International School, Valsad. Teachers are also more accepting of technology now as they know it is the only way forward. As is often told in this regard, the tech-revolution in education that was to happen 10 years hence happened overnight thanks to the pandemic.
Subject Matter Expertise
Being confident in his/her subject area is a prime requirement for teachers who wish to excel in their careers as teachers. There is a need to expand the knowledge base by exploring new material available online, by studying new pedagogical perspectives, and by exploring educational websites. Sharing material in the form of youtube links, articles, blogs, activities, and even engaging with students on social media can bridge the gap between the teacher’s knowledge base and the student’s curiosity.
“I am glad I had gone through many youtube videos and was up-to-date about the new fuel technology for vehicles. When my student came and asked me about it, I was prepared to answer”, says Mr. Prajwal Bharadwaj who teaches science to high schoolers of Navodaya International School, Salem. He adds a valid point, “Nowadays students don’t restrict themselves to textbooks for learning, so how can we?”.
With a strong foundation in the subject area comes the aspect of exploring different methodologies to convey it to students meaningfully, to engage them in the subject, and enthuse them to explore on their own. Making it more relatable to students of the 21st century is of utmost importance. Using interactive activities, simulations, experiments, hands-on activities, and trying out application, HOTs, analysis-oriented questions then becomes possible for the teacher.
A high emotional quotient is one of the understated yet implicit requirements of an effective teacher. Especially, with the pandemic in the backdrop, a teacher has to be much more receptive to the emotions exhibited by children during online classes. Reading up on children’s behavioral tendencies post-pandemic, handling parents who themselves may be under pandemic-related stress, understanding how children deal with the loss of a dear one are some examples of situations teachers must be equipped to handle. Identifying children who may need professional counseling, emotional hand-holding, extra parental guidance are again new dimensions that a teacher must be tuned to perceive, even in virtual settings. Hence, it becomes imperative that teachers are themselves trained to nurture and develop their emotional quotient.
Sometimes, classroom sessions can be an outlet for many students’ emotional outbursts. Hence, using techniques such as storytelling, puppetry, and even 1:1 talk time with parents, students can help teachers unearth students’ emotional backlog making them more comfortable in class and open to learning.
“I was amazed at how students reacted when I gave them a writing assignment on the pandemic. It became their medium to purge. Poems, videos, blogs made by students were touching reminders of how the pandemic has bruised the minds of young ones forever. Students said the activity gave them a sense of relief and closure with the pandemic”, expresses Yogita Bhor, an English tutor based in Lucknow.
A Good Communicator
One of the key requirements when it comes to good communication is to be clear and concise. Students follow instructions when they are expressed clearly, point-wise, and are structured well for young minds. This in turn requires meticulous planning and preparation at the teacher’s end.
A good teacher is well prepared to provide time for students to communicate their thoughts, ideas, and queries. A purely teacher-centric class would leave the students at a loss. On the other hand, a student-centric class would contribute to the teaching process and would be beneficial for all students.
Which medium? This is also a question teachers often face these days. While physical school was open, teachers used “memos” or circulars as their go-to medium of communication or even the humble school diary. Now, this is passe. They must adapt to Whatsapp, Email, LMS, or even social media when it comes to informal communication.
It’s one thing to be physically present in a class and catch your students chit-chatting with friends, not paying attention, or lagging behind in work. What do you do when these students are virtually present on your screen and you have no idea what they might be actually doing given the video is conveniently off, sighting low bandwidth issues. Do you call them out or let it be? Do you blindly trust them to be following your instructions? How do you overcome your constant urge to check on students?
Online Classroom Management is new for everyone. Hence, the methods are raw and the finesse is absent. You are not alone in this journey and it takes self-reflection, group learning experiences to master this subtle art.
Surprise tests, exit polls, student-led classes, regular roll-calls are few ways to ensure the class is appropriately engaged. “The day I learned to use the mute-all button was my most memorable online class day”, declares Samantha D’cruz who struggled to keep her class quiet as it involved 3-5-year-olds. “Initially I had to use it to make sure students and parents don’t disrupt class sessions. Slowly the online class discipline has improved as parents are also getting tuned to this routine”, she adds.
While everything may be going wrong offline, the online show must go on. Teachers – who are no less than frontline workers in this regard – are looked up to for guidance, assurance, support, and positivity. Every day, they have the power to make a difference in the lives of children. They mustn’t let anything come in the way of their doing so.
Considering their huge impact and pressure to keep up with the dynamics of online classes, teachers too must indulge in self-care, meditation, planned breaks and even counseling to ensure they stay on course.
All of these qualities and skills described above are not attained overnight. They come with education, skill training, and most importantly practice. Ikigai’Ken is here to support teachers make the most of online classes by helping them upskill suitably. You can sign up for any of our customized teacher upskilling programs and kickstart your journey to becoming a highly effective teacher.