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Shaping the New Normal

Shaping the New Normal

Ayesha Saluja

Ayesha Saluja

A motivated and driven educator, Ayesha Saluja has been a teacher for almost ten years now. Teaching mathematics to grades 9, 10, and 11 at Jayshree Periwal International School, she is determined to make the best of online teaching.

 

How have things changed since teaching shifted online?

“Teaching online classes has definitely been an adjustment. With a son who takes online classes, and a family who is also constantly at home, initially I had to keep shifting my desk and setting a fixed workplace in the home was difficult, but now we have all adapted. 

I am determined to stick to a schedule and present myself well to my class. I think it’s important to dress up everyday and set a good example for my students. If they see me making an effort, they are bound to make an effort as well.

 

What are the biggest challenges of online teaching?

“There is less one-to-one interaction and all our class discussions are strictly syllabi-centric. I miss in-person classes that allow for a more organic flow of discussion, even if that means we sometimes go off-topic. Another challenge I face is not being able to look at a child’s work on an everyday basis. I still make my students send their work to me over Whatsapp, but it is not the same.”

 

What inspires you to keep going?

“I truly feel that we have to be positive for the kids. They are the future and they look to us for motivation. As difficult as online classes are for us adults, they are bound to be more difficult for the children. It is up to us to keep them going.”

Nisha Jain Grover

Nisha Jain Grover

A veritable change-maker, Nisha Jain Grover is the founder director of Vatsalya Legacy, a school which offers an individual Educational Program for every student and aims to incorporate counseling and guidance in regular academic programmes. Nisha has been working towards creating awareness about inclusivity in education from day one, and Vatsalya Legacy is a step closer to her goal.

 

How have things changed since teaching shifted online?

“There is no human touch. All children require emotional as well as social support, especially from their educators, which is very difficult to provide through a screen. It is tough to expect young children to sit in front of a screen day-in and day-out, and it is a hassle for the child’s parents as well, who often have to superview their younger children even while they work from home.” 

 

What inspires you?

“I personally connect with all the children that I teach, and have a responsibility towards every single child who calls me ‘ma’am’. No matter what, learning must not stop. I truly believe that every child learns in their own way, at their own pace. Children should not be expected to fit in a box made for countless others. All children require a different approach, and their sheer resilience inspires me to keep doing what I do.”

 

What are your future goals?

“My goal is, and always has been, to work towards a literate, inclusive India. Education is not one-size-fits-all, and I will continue to work towards spreading awareness about inclusivity. What this pandemic has done is given me hope against all odds. If the education system can rally and transform itself to such an extent, I believe that my goal of inclusive education is closer than ever.”

Faisal Khan

Faisal Khan

Never one to shy away from hard work, Faisal Khan has been teaching grades 10 to 12 at Delhi Public School, for close to 19 years now. Undeterred by the changes brought on by the pandemic, Faisal is determined to take it all in his stride for his students.

 

How have things changed since teaching shifted online?

“When it comes to teaching, we are now making PPTs, modules, quizzes, searching Youtube for videos, and so on, all this to ensure that those 40 minutes of class is interesting enough for students that their attention remains unwavering. Additionally, we are taking short assessments, interacting with parents, organising competitions such as debates, poster making, etc, doing career counselling, conducting student council selections, and more. We teachers are doing everything we can to make sure students don’t feel like their precious student years are wasted.

 

What are the challenges you face/have faced with online teaching?

“The biggest challenge is that the personal touch or a personal rapport, which was an integral part of classroom teaching, is missing in these virtual classes. Students used to come to us not only for learning, but for suggestions and guidance with their problems and fears. Now that is not so easy in these virtual classes.”

 

What inspires you to keep going?

“The positive reviews of the students are like a ‘sanjivini’ in these difficult times. Social media is full of such reviews. Students often send messages and make calls and send videos, appreciating and supporting us, which keeps me going.”

Shalu Kapur

Shalu Kapur

Having been an educator for almost 15 years, Shalu Kapur teaches students of Grades VI-VIII at Delhi Public School. Taking online classes in her stride, Shalu has embraced technology for the freedom it gives her in continuing to educate her students. 

 

How have things changed since teaching shifted online?

“A lot of time is invested in creating interactive content and planning engaging activities for students, which enables them to learn with practical exercises even in online classes. I must say it is a formidable challenge for teachers who have been thrown into this situation, but we  have all risen to the occasion remarkably.”

 

What are the challenges you face/have faced with online teaching? 

“One of the biggest challenges is passive students. Unless thoughtfully crafted, online instruction can turn students into passive observers rather than active participants. Another challenge is staying connected with students. In an online classroom, much of the learning is completed asynchronously and students often feel disconnected from their teachers, as well as their peers.”

 

Any specific instances during online teaching that stayed with you?

“The very first ‘Virtual Parent-Teacher Meet’ which was organised. I was a bit apprehensive about the response of the parents regarding the online classes. But the response we got was beyond expectation. The parents were full of praises for the staff, the management, and the quality of the content that was being shared with the students. They even appreciated the positive mindset of the staff even during the times of pandemic.These gestures of appreciation and acknowledgement go a long way and serve as a driving force and inspire you to give your best.”

Sandhya Shringi

Transforming the lives of young children ever since she started teaching, Sandhya Shringi has been an educator for 15 years now. She is a Primary Educator of Mathematics and also the Academic Coordinator for Grades III-V at Delhi Public School.

 

How have things changed since teaching shifted online?

“Since the time teaching has shifted online, the day’s schedule has changed like never before.

There are no fixed working hours, and we are working on our laptops most of the time. Taking classes is the easiest part of the job. Planning for online classes, thinking about enhancing and innovating our lessons to be able to keep students’ interest alive and ensuring meaningful engagement is the most challenging part of online teaching.”

 

What are the challenges you face/have faced with online teaching?

“The biggest challenge was to come to terms with the fact that we no longer would be having two of our most important tools, the board and the marker, to teach our students. Gadgets, power-point presentations, web resources were being used for a long time so it was easier to plan the lessons, but the real challenge was to connect with all the students and parents who had never used technology in learning before.”

 

Any specific instances during online teaching that stayed with you?

“Once, after my class, I was sent a mobile recording of the class that I had just completed, by a parent. I was taken aback, thinking that I had made a goof up and that it has been recorded. However, it was to compliment me for a class well conducted. This incident forced me to think deeply about the fact that the teaching community is currently facing multiple challenges and is vulnerable due to the ongoing situation in the world. Nevertheless, we teachers shall continue doing what we are supposed to do. The love and well-being of our students who we call our kids is our driving force and it keeps us going.”

Naina Johar

Naina Johar

Having been an educator for 8 years, Naina Johar knows all the ins and outs of teaching children. She teaches grades 6, 7, and 8 at Jayshree Periwal International School, and is adapting expertly to all the changes brought on by the pandemic.

 

What are the challenges you face/have faced with online teaching? Who has helped you through with those?

“The biggest challenge was not being able to have physical,  face-to-face contact with the students, and not being able to physically supervise the work being done by them. There were some other challenges with respect to learning all the new technology and skills required to conduct online classes, as well as being able to engage the students on an online platform, as it is easy for them to lose focus.”

 

Who has helped you through with those challenges?

“The school and it’s senior management has been a godsend and they have helped all the teachers through this with training of different resources and websites available to be used in the online classes.”

 

What inspires you to keep going?

“The inspiration is always the students; the love and affection they have for you is what motivates me to keep going.”

Bhawna Saxena

Bhawna Saxena

Undeterred in the face of change, Bhawna Saxena is the head of the Social Science and Humanities department of Rukmani Birla Modern High School, and has been teaching History to Grades IX to XII. With an experience of over 18 years under her belt, Bhawna is hopeful about the future as she has seen the resilience of students and teachers alike in these times.

 

How have things changed since teaching shifted online?

“When we started with online teaching, be it the teachers, our students, or their parents, everyone was really apprehensive about the virtual platform. But as things started getting streamlined, all worries vanished. I would like to add here that the positive side of this was the transformation of all of us into totally tech-savvy individuals. Now it seems that whatever situation comes our way, we are ready for it.”

 

Who has helped you with all the challenges faced during online teaching?

“All of this would not have been possible without the constant support and motivation of our Principal, Mrs Anjana Kumar. Her vision, optimism, and complete faith in all of us has helped us through the challenges. I am really privileged to have her as my mentor. I would like to mention that it was all because of her motivation that I could conduct an online ‘Ghewar making’ workshop for around 200 parents and students. I am truly thankful to her.”

 

What inspires you to keep going?

“Love and care for my dear students, and to be able to contribute in whatever way possible is the most important feeling that keeps me going and inspires me constantly as WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER.”

Sulekha Jain

Sulekha Jain

A beloved educator, Sulekha Jain has been teaching in the primary section, Grades 3rd, 4th, and 5th for more than 25 years now. A teacher of English and Social Studies, she is making the best out of the situation for her students, and is determined to keep persevering. 

 

What is your typical day/schedule? How have things changed since teaching shifted online?

“My daily schedule has definitely changed since I’m used to getting up and dressed every morning to go to school since the past 25 years, use the black board, and I got comfortable with the chalk powder. Now I have to schedule meetings, upload assignments, use the chat boxes, notes, slide presentation, file sharing, link sharing and if that wasn’t all, I have a parents teachers meet any day, anytime, any hour of the day since I’m only a call away. To be honest, it did take me time to adjust and facilitate a purely asynchronous learning environment with zero face-to-face activities. That being said, my employer MGD Girls’ school and the principal have been very supportive and patient, they took initiatives and organised sessions for the teachers and that made us get friendlier with this foreign concept of online education. I’ve come to see it as a blended approach that utilizes both asynchronous and synchronous aspects of learning.”

 

What inspires you to keep going?

“Teaching as a profession has changed a lot over the years. In our times, we used to fear our teachers. We thought fear meant respect. Now the kids are more aware. They won’t respect you because you’re old or because you’re their teacher. And I feel that this is a good change. This builds up a need to develop a teacher-student relationship based on trust and confidence instead of fear. As a teacher I love to build bonds with my students and make sure they feel they have someone they can confide in and not some adult figure they’re to be scared of. This alone is enough to fuel my passion for the profession and my pure love for children.”

Gunjan Raisinghani

Gunjan Raisinghani

Motivated to make a difference in her students’ lives, Gunjan Raisinghani teaches economics for IB and IGCSE from grade 9 to grade 12 at Neerja Modi School, and has been an educator for 8 years now. 

 

What is your typical day/schedule? How have things changed since teaching shifted online?

“My typical day starts with a prayer of gratitude for all, so no change there. But the extreme change that I felt is the thinning of boundaries between the work life and personal life. Previously, out from home for work meant that you were physically and mentally devoting yourself to the school and students, which in case of online classes has changed as here you have cooking, cleaning, laundry and teaching (not only the students but also your own children) all at same time. The teaching hours may have decreased but for me, the hours put in planning has increased. The resources used in a physical environment are very different from an online environment, be it an assignment upload, a discussion, a group activity, or an online assessment and then, on top of it, checking all of that on screen.”

 

What are the challenges you face/have faced with online teaching? 

“A major challenge for me is monitoring and catching hold of my students. As the memes depict these days, the new way of bunking a class is “Ma’am there is a power cut”, “some network issue ma’am”, “my camera is not working ma’am”. Previously, being a Grade 12 class teacher, I wouldn’t leave anyone free in any of the periods, but now with the ease of bunking classes, I only have one request: please attend the classes regularly, please switch on your cameras, etc.”

 

What inspires you to keep going?

“The one I see daily in the mirror, and the NMS spirit that motivates you to give your best and

work towards it with your full potential. To sum up, I would like to say distance doesn’t matter when roots are strong. So I am fully confident about the motto of our school, “knowledge, truth, wisdom, nurtured by values” which, together with my teachings, will help us come out of these pandemic times with flying colours.”

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