The test is not easy; Teaching and discussion are even more challenging. Teachers are learning new skills, working with technology to make the class more attractive.
The coronavirus engulfed the world in March 2020, and suddenly a new world was born. Regardless of age, occupation, education, or location, each of us was expected to learn new skills for conducting, teaching, and learning our business online; In fact, move our entire world to Zoom & Team and WebEx.
We all knew we could work online, but customer meetings, sales calls, assessments, student tutoring, job interviews and almost everything online was incredible and unimaginable. It was probably fun at first because someone could work from the comfort of home, avoid the hassle of traveling, and stay with family. But soon, it became disobedient. In the same house, four people were making noise on their different devices. The boundaries of work are tightened and people are anxious to return to work. But the online world continued to dominate our lives in the second year of Covid-19, especially for some of us in the teaching profession, as the government decided to allow the education sector to end up reopening in a physical setting.
We are not allowed to take classes on campus, and for two years students have learned, taken exams, and graduated online. Well, I want to believe that while online education does not compromise the effectiveness of teaching and learning, I must admit that it is not fun. As teachers, we miss the bonds created in the classroom, space, environment, energy and face-to-face world. (Back then they didn’t seem so important but now they are very missed) But the worst part is that the pictures or nametags of the students online on Zoom dominate your screen. I’m wondering if I’m trying to copy offline class and teach or record my speech for the next replay.
The classroom was so attractive. I can see my students, explain their strengths, read their body language and find out if they are still with me or in their dream world. I can make cold calls and be encouraged by this unseen energy around me. But online- Oh my God! It’s a world where ‘you see me?’ And ‘Can you hear me?’ Dominating students always have low bandwidth and poor connectivity and so they can’t turn on their videos. (When bandwidth improves during their events and private meetings). Suddenly there is a wall between me and my student, and I try to peek but in vain! So maybe some of them are not even in their seats, others have logged in and gone back to bed comfortably, some are more industrious and lying on their stomachs with laptops, and here I am! All attentive and alert and very active, with all my senses in multitasking mode, trying to explain and explain what I can’t see. The teacher in me still doesn’t give up. And I try to call cold. Look! Half of them do not respond or do not.
Of course, what is being cooked in the kitchen is more interesting than what is being cooked in the zoo. My ego collapses, and my heart sinks. An annoying professor can’t compete with mom’s food. And now, I’m looking for new ways to rejuvenate myself. And I respond to YouTube videos, Mentimeter and Kahuts to focus on my class. I remember the old days when we wouldn’t allow laptops during sessions because we weren’t like the competition between Facebook and Gmail. And now the competition has multiplied in everything from just computer apps, mobile phones, siblings confusing you and the aroma of good food from the kitchen to playing Netflix movies in the family home.
The test is not easy; Teaching and discussion are even more challenging. Teachers are learning new skills, working with technology to make classes more interesting. Teachers have become cheaters of students due to sudden lack of demand. Yes! Students feel bullied for being asked to keep their videos on or for making cold-calls. I urge myself to keep my undergraduate students playing and participating in their videos because I have failed to teach them pictures and name cards and yet can’t be emotional and change. But it’s not just me, I find the same thing with my ten-year-old son, whose teachers constantly remind kids to keep the video going, not to chat, and to pay attention.
I know this sounds trivial, but believe me, being a teacher during COVID-19 is not easy. These years will always come back to haunt us, amaze us with our agility, and scare us into dreaming of having no video. From the rediscovery of pedagogy, learn new technologies, integrate media and activities for engagement, manage multiple screens and breakout rooms, and be passionate about teaching on the empty screen and still getting involved. Isn’t it more complicated than stage performance, I wonder!
Well, I hope ‘you all hear us’ and ‘you see the point of our story!’