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The school building is shut, but the school is in session.

July 10, 2020 09:44 IST

Online teaching may not be popular with many, but it is here to stay, for sure.
The sooner we accept this, the better, notes Abhijit Masih.

Advait Alva, 5, Senior KG, attends online school

IMAGE: Advait Alva, 5, Senior KG, attends online school. Photograph: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com

For many educators, the day the lockdown was announced, was the day that they had to adapt to a new methodology of teaching.

Even before the parents could start worrying about the future of their children, their studies, their probable loss of a year the schools were busy discussing and formulating means and methods of continuing with the new session.

Consulting other schools and educational experts to come up with a teaching model most suited to their area and to the demographic profile of parents they had to cater to.

Devising practical means for continuing the academic session. Three-and-a-half months down the line, the parents perhaps should appreciate the fact that their schools did manage to keep their children occupied with their regular studies and did not let the term in the short term and the session in the long term, expire.

 

Holy Cross Prep School is our family run school in a small town in Bihar. The school has been in existence for 33 years and has classes from Nursery to Standard 8.

The new session had just begun, a few days before the lockdown was announced in March and the first term was to begin in full flow after the Holi holidays.

Jasmitha Mhatre, 9, Class 4, attends online school

IMAGE: Jasmitha Mhatre, 9, Class 4, attends online school. Photograph: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com

As soon as the lockdown was announced, the management of the school, owning the responsibility of not letting the lockdown effect the current session or term, got busy consulting other educational institutes and ICSE board convent schools, that are run by friends and family.

Enquiring the methods that they are employing, the way forward, training provided to teachers and the platform on which they were planning on continuing with the teaching.

This information was compiled from New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Agra, Jamshedpur, Patna, Dubai and Washington, DC.

Based on the information received and at the same time keeping the local profile of the parents and their limitations, the teaching methodology was tailored and adapted to best suit our students and their parents.

The teachers were given a crash course in online teaching and making effective videos. A few video making apps were also introduced to the teachers to make better teaching videos.

Sample videos from other schools, which friends and family graciously shared with us, were shown to our teachers, so that they could create similar videos.

A big shoutout to all the teachers for adapting to this new method of teaching. We have to be mindful here, that not all teachers are young and technologically proficient.

But they stepped up and pleasantly surprised the management by effectively projecting their style of teaching through this new medium.

They put in additional effort to upgrade themselves, to teach remotely, to anticipate answers to the absent raised hands physically in front of them.

Hence, to make any deductions in their salaries is absolutely unjustified and on our part we have recognised their effort by paying them in full, regardless of the collections received.

Like in the normal course of the academic session, it is generally the case that the students whose parents are more involved in their studies are the ones who do academically well in class.

The online classes have forced all parents to become involved in their children's studies. They probably have no choice, because it is their mobile phone that is being used by their children to receive study material from school.

And parents's involvement becomes even more important in the primary section as they have to sit with their kids and get the work done.

I guess online classes may have resulted in making parents more aware of the curriculum being followed by schools. It makes their participation essential, like it should be.

Photograph: Reuters

Sadly, we don't get to hear all the beautiful sounds students make on the school campus.

The classrooms are empty, the playing field has a cover of overgrown grass, which never had the chance to grow, being trampled under all the running and jumping.

Days do not begin with the unison rendition of the National Anthem and the Pledge.

The morning assembly and the chirping of Good Morning Sir and Ma'am.

We feel sorry that the children can't meet their friends, not able to share stories about their experiences and just being herded towards a non-social existence.

Online teaching currently may not be popular with many, but it is here to stay, in proportionate measures, for sure.

The sooner we accept this, the better.

We are glad that we were one of the early adapters and we can only build on this foundation and get better.

Holy Cross Prep School was one of the first schools to start online classes in this Bihar town and we are proud to complete the first term in the stipulated time.

This was achieved by classes being held on weekends as well, by cancelling the summer vacation and having continuous classes instead.


Feature Production: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com

ABHIJIT MASIH