The COVID-19 crisis has wrought havoc across the world and education has been one of the biggest casualties. Reports by Worldwide organisations like UNESCO and UNICEF signal that the global closure of educational institutions led to the largest mass disruption in education from elementary to tertiary stage. An unexpected amount of stress and anxiety accumulated over the shoulders of educational authorities and instantly they started exploring the ways to keep the stream of education flowing. Not only the teachers but the students were also navigating their ways during this period of uncertainty. Who would have imagined that the blackboards, the chalks, the racks of books would mutate into digital screens, pixels and folders of PDF’s. With the sudden closure of schools, we lost our most important asset, which was face-to-face contact with our students and hands-on learning.
A New Day
While managing teaching and learning in this critical time has been an unusual task, yet from teachers to students, everybody rose to the occasion. Managements as well Principals of educational institutions provided galvanizing support by creating a profitable pool of innovation, awareness, ideas and resources to facilitate new teaching and learning strategies. Fervent efforts like creating solid networks of administrators, teachers, students as well as giving teachers the autonomy to decide classroom strategies were made. New technological support system paved the way to the resurgence of an effective teaching learning process. In order to ensure the efficacy of digital teaching and learning, no effort was spared to utilize additional tools and time. From coping to managing and accelerating, webinars were organized to support teachers to strengthen their educational endeavours.
Advent of Digital Teaching and Learning
Great salute to the entire teaching fraternity for bringing the learning to the doorsteps of students through the flight of zoom, Team and WebEx meet etc. Both students as well parents reciprocated positively to the unique and unexpected mode which motivated the educationists to leave no stone unturned to find better ways. Broadening the framework of traditional methodologies of chalk, board and books, teachers came up with multiple content formats like Power point presentations, PDF files, booklets, and worksheets, small audio and video recordings which are shared through apps, emails and student profiles. They built safe and warm relationship with students using incredible and innovative ways ensuring that the cognitive abilities of students do not rust during these troubled times and learning becomes more pragmatic, productive and participative. Yoga and Meditation, Singing and Dancing, Art and craft, Baking and Cooking, everything was brought online. The “School-from-home” system has also enabled parents to have the first-hand knowledge of their ward’s learning pace and style.
Schools and colleges have also initiated the special ‘Catch up programmes’ like enrichment, special and remedial classes to help children catch-up lost learning loss due to unavoidable circumstances. Undoubtedly, it created the new pedagogical mechanism called “PHYGITAL WORLD”- a new reality indispensible for instructional methodologies both in the present and future.
A Healthy Mind
As educationists we know that the pandemic has gravely impacted our students’ mental wellbeing, and finding the way out of this labyrinth will be far from easy. The obvious questions are: Do the children have access to proper nutrition? Are they curious enough to learn? Can parents help with homework? Are there issues at home? If family’s income has adversely affected the learning outcomes? Pondering over these questions, we need to invest more time to motivate educators to revitalize their educational commitments and practices. In this time of social turmoil, we must exhibit “our willingness to learn and engage” and remember that “relationship is the heart of teaching,” even in the virtual environment. Students should be made to feel that their teachers know them, love them unconditionally and they can open their heart to their teachers.
This new education system is experiencing unexplored realms of fresh and fascinating ways of collaborative learning. Schools, Colleges and Universities have not merely struggled to adapt to the change, but also gained the capabilities, capacities and concerns for ‘New Normal’. With the world still reeling under the impact of the pandemic, our determination is to reach out to each and every student, teacher and parent to ensure that no one is left behind. We all need to work more religiously and rightfully to promote our students’ readiness to learn, deep understanding, social, physical and emotional well-being through multitude approaches as the war is still not over. We need to put wholesome efforts to create the desired reality of fruitful, free flowing and flexible learning for all. We also look forward to governments to make extensive investments in education to enable the teachers and learners to draw out the best from each teaching learning context despite the physical constraints.
Let’s move forward by laying foundations of things that once were sought impossible With a zealous spirit, We shall keep on fortifying the educative mansion by making its four pillars securely and strongly connected with one another namely: school, teachers, students and parents who are inter dependent in teaching and learning process.
In conclusion, a pandemic can lead to closure of educational institutions, but it cannot stop education. And with this ever-changing landscape of the pandemic, educationists will never revert back to only four walls of classroom. And maybe, this is all we needed.
Author: Dr. Paramjit Kaur
The Author is the Principal of BCM Arya Model Sr Sec School, Shastri Nagar, Ludhiana.