Adaptive Abilities of our Teachers
by Benu Khanna, Director, Pallavan Jhalawar

 

In times of COVID 19 when shutdowns seem to have become the order of the day, and life all around us seems to have come to a standstill, Pallavan was the first school in Jhalawar to come up with a novel idea to continue classes for their students. At Pallavan School Jhalawar all the students from Nursery to grade 12 are attending virtual classes. Our teachers are able to connect with our students in far off areas like Asnawar, Ratlai, Bakani, (approximately 30 to 35 Kms from our school). Harigarh and Khanpur and conduct online classes successfully.

As most of our teachers and students do not have access to laptops the teachers were trained to conduct online classes with the help of a smartphone and mock sessions were held to check for preparedness and any other technical glitches. Working on Zoom our teachers sent out an invite to all the students in their class Whatsapp group for a 40-minute class. A timetable for three hours of virtual classes is followed every day.

With the help of an app, we are able to convert the phone screen into a whiteboard so that illustrations/ diagrams can be drawn to explain concepts clearly to the students. At times when there is a network issue our teachers sit out in their balconies or on their terrace and conduct the classes. Sometimes cows and buffalos can be seen in the background when our children sit out in the veranda in their villages and attend the virtual classes.

We also include basic yoga classes so that the

students get some physical activity. Additionally, the assignments given every day keeps the students busy after the classes. These assignments are posted in the class Whatsapp groups and checked every day. Our teachers are doing a fabulous job to ensure that students who are stuck at home during these difficult times are able to spend their time fruitfully, stay focused and not lag behind in their studies.

Challenges:

  • E-teaching was itself a challenge for the teachers as all the teachers are habituated to traditional classes and are also unaware of online teaching. An online training programme was organized for all the teachers and demo classes were organized to overcome this challenge.
  • Lack of online teaching resources – Since, we were not prepared for online classes, managing resources for teaching was a huge challenge as we did not have the books as well. The materials were organized by downloading NCERT books and preparing worksheets by the teachers themselves.
  • One of the most important challenges was how to connect with the students without using body language. However, slowly and surely this problem was also sorted out as most of us share the screen while teaching and we share worksheets and other available materials.
  • One of the biggest challenges was to make the parents understand the significance of online classes and how they can access it. To make the parents understand we talked to each parent and convinced them about the importance of these classes. We also showed them how to download the Zoom app and taught them how to use it. Though, most of the parents agreed there were some practical issues: some had a single smartphone per family, poor internet connectivity, and parents were not so technically savvy.
  • Some parents also felt that the school is going online only to collect fees and there was no use of online classes without books. However, once the classes started, those parents also understood the value of the classes.
  • Another important challenge was to check the homework as the students send the homework by taking pictures of their notebooks. Hence, it was initially very difficult to download each and every picture and check it using the phone. However, now all the teachers have become used to it.
  • Technical issues: Many students are not provided with the high bandwidth or the strong internet connection that online classes require, and thus fail to catch up with their virtual classmates
  • Students who had the lower motivation and drive for online classes initially failed and fell behind or got confused. However, we created a structure for the class and clearly communicated the importance of classes and uncertainty of lockdown helped overcome this challenge.
  • Teachers often need to rethink the course design and use different strategies for teaching, engagement and assessment in the online environment.

Despite all the above challenges, we are proud that around 60 per cent of the students are attending the classes regularly and solving the worksheets.