As the Centre gives a go ahead, at least 7 States are gearing up to welcome high school students – Grades 9 to 12 back to campus with all the social distancing, sanitation protocols in place. Considered the ‘business end’ of life for a student’s academic journey before University transition, the grades culminate into those ‘all-important’ mark-sheets that become important documents of ‘achievement’ and with that logic, ushering the older students into a face to face world appears to be extremely crucial for administrators and even parents, and let’s be fair some children much rather discuss doubts in person than virtually, and because these students are more independent and mature, social distancing norms can be exercised more efficiently. ‘Safer’ participants as a starting point than the younger children, is the rationale.

So far so good you would think. Except, the Centre and the States have categorically stated that the consent of the parent is important, and no one can be forced if they are uncomfortable to attend physical school. Which means the option to be ‘home-schooled’ on line must be there.

On paper, this seems like a perfect proposition- no force, everyone has a choice and everyone has a right to a decision.

Except, imagine the plight of a teachers managing physical classroom students and those in the virtual space. How does the teacher navigate this efficiently?

There’s been a clear admission by all that physical world teaching learning and virtual world require different skill sets, including managing complexity and also ensuring that students remain on task in both platforms requires a different kind of handling. The split with some in physical class and some in virtual classrooms synchronously will definitely put a strain on the teachers who will have to double up, extend their time and effort as they are expected to answer queries round the clock …. and also monitor two platforms.

My worry when I read reports of what is happening in other countries and cities around the world is that teachers are exhausted and finding it very challenging to be productive with limited time on hand. There are demands of their time, like never before and teachers have expressed their own disappointment as they know they are not able to attend to every query like they would be able to with one single platform.

Are we even thinking about the teachers??

‘Paper perfect’ suggestions need to be tested and I am eagerly awaiting the feedback as Punjab is all set to start from October 19th. There must be lessons that can give us strategies and experiences that we can analyse to ensure that the teachers are able to optimise and are not stretched and that students get the best possible support that is also sustainable.

With all the hue and cry about fees, I would be intrigued to know which way the Courts would rule – ‘discounted’ for online while paying full fee for physical classes? Now this will be an interesting development to track, and yet I urge everyone to spare a thought for the teachers who are being tossed between the parental expectations and government directives for the management.

Many parents that I have spoken to, are simply not keen to send the children to school yet. And continue to have expectations of high quality education at ‘discounted’ rates.

Personally, while these are challenging times for all, and I do recognise families have undergone financial challenges, but so have managements and with them the teachers. Hope this move to unlockdown does not land up yet again in Courts!

Dialog between managements and schools is important, and not roping in local politicians to intervene.

Again, in all this I still worry about the mental health of the teacher, and their ability to cope with this new normal that is expected of them!

An Award winning educationalist (K-12), on the Advisory Board of several schools & edutech companies, she’s a veteran of 3 educational start ups and the Founder of ACE. Pioneering change-maker, she’s passionate about revolutionalising education. |