It’s another crazy day for Raga Ravi, a math and social science teacher, after the school she works for recently reopened for hybrid learning – a mix of in-person and online instruction.
She has students divided into two groups who come to school every other day, in addition to some who have opted for the online mode.
“The management of my class V students is chaotic; many have forgotten the class etiquette as they attend physical classes after two long years,” she says. If they don’t get his attention, they get restless and distract the class.
“I turned off the mute option for students taking math lessons from home because it is difficult to juggle students in person and online,” says the middle school teacher who is racing against time to complete the program.
In accordance with the school’s rule, the “chat” is not open to students, so those taking home lessons must wait their turn patiently.
Her biggest challenge is giving adequate attention and support to both groups. “If I start managing students in class, online students get bored, but there’s not much we can do about it,” Raga says.
She says the kids in the class complain when videos are played on the laptop. “We can’t go to the screening room every time to make sure a video is viewed clearly by both groups,” she says.
Network issues have plagued students at an ICSE school ever since teachers began taking classes at the school while students were parked in line.
A math lesson in progress for class IV students is interrupted with the teacher adjusting the angle of the camera to ensure the students can see the geometry figures drawn on the blackboard. Added to this is the incessant chatter of the children: ‘Maam, your voice is breaking’.
Parents of children who have opted for online lessons say that with many students going to school, those attending home are less heard and some even feel left out.
“My son was complaining that for a quiz conducted in class, the teacher only asked students who were present in person,” says Subha M, whose children who study at a private school in Mylapore insisted that they attend the quiz. physical lessons.
Initially, the loud voice of some teachers was a distraction for the children. “But I had to make it clear to them that it was to make sure everyone could listen to it,” says Subha.
The children, who are out of town because of their parents’ remote work, say they have little choice of schools.
“Forget clarifying questions from students taking online classes, a few teachers don’t even bother to turn on the smart board so we can see the class,” says Raksha (name changed), whose parents plan to send only after she has taken the vaccine.
Frustration with blended learning is growing, especially in schools that have huge classes to manage and are forced to offer both options.
“Teachers are exhausted by this format and we only hope that such a method of teaching and learning will not last in the long term. Either it has to be entirely online or entirely in person,” says Purushothaman, Founder and Senior Director of Everwin Group of Schools.
At school, teachers start their day with online lessons from 8 a.m. to 8:45 p.m., then physical lessons begin for staff. Pupils at home receive educational videos and later in the evening teachers meet online for doubt clarification lessons.
“As we are at the end of the school year, we can only motivate and inspire teachers to keep going a little longer,” says Purushothaman, adding that teachers are bound to rise to the occasion.
Agreeing that the hybrid model is a challenge teachers need to adapt to, Sudha Mahesh, head of CampusK, an international school in Cambridge, says schools need to have a different strategy for each class.
“For Standards I and II, we started classes in a staggered fashion by calling them two or three times a week and on the remaining days they go online,” says Sudha. The lesson plans are organized by class.
She agrees that this was possible because the class size is between 20 and 25 students.
For classes III to VI, the school has designed a common timetable for students online and offline. “It took a while for teachers to figure out how to place the laptop or whether to use a Bluetooth and walk around so the voice was uninterrupted or sit in a way that ensured eye contact with all the students. “, explains Sudha.
Being heard is a big concern for teachers. “Instead of watching a classroom session, I was logging into Microsoft Teams to offer feedback to teachers. Some teachers needed to connect the speaker to the system or needed Bluetooth,” she says.
Sudha says technology support plays an important role and principals need to support teachers. “We, for example, increased the bandwidth when classes were to be broadcast live,” she says.
The power of communication plays an important role in such a format.
“Beyond class III, most parents are not with the children and you have to tell them. We started the “Learning from Home” material in which we developed a list of items that a child must have when attending a class.