Teaching during lockdown: Teachers, parents and students grapple with keyboard and the screen  

The COVID-19 lockdown redraws our concept of schooling and classroom teaching, parents teacher and students are coming to terms with the changes

Teaching during lockdown: Teachers, parents and students grapple with keyboard and the screen  
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Tathagata Bhattacharya

Arya (Name changed) is a 12-year-old boy who has been fixated in front of his mom’s laptop since morning. As the COVID-19 lockdown redraws our concept of schooling and classroom teaching, his mom, a freelance book editor, has to part with her machine so that Arya does not miss his classes and fall back in studies.

Arya loves the classes via Zoom though. “It’s much better. You do not have to wake up early, shower and get into your school uniform and rush to the bus stand,” the boy, who attends Amity International School, quips with an impish grin.

Upon being quizzed if it is as easy as in a physical classroom to ask the teacher to explain a concept in case it is not clear, he says it’s not the same. “It is easier in a classroom. In my room, there are many distractions and a lot many of my friends are not even paying any attention. But the teachers can’t find out,” he says, still wearing that mischievous smile.

“It has increased our workload at home. I generally sit down with him as soon his classes are over. It is affecting my work but what to do,” says the mother, who also has to take care of the all the household chores. She is lucky as her husband, an IT professional, helps out with the tasks in between his work. “At times, he is stuffing the dishes into the dishwasher while he is in conversation with his American clients at night. Who says men can’t be multitaskers,” she says sportingly.

Rohan (Name changed), a class 10 student at Shiv Nadar School, has also been attending his online classes. He says he misses his school though. “Talking to your buddies on chat apps and meeting them face to face are two entirely different things. But these are unprecedented times. I also miss the sports periods,” the boy who loves football says with a shrug. Then the naughty kid in him comes out. “Students usually keep their microphones off and chat with each other via other apps in the middle of the class. Now, that could never have happened in a physical classroom. Also, since our teachers are mostly using laptops or desktops, whose screen sizes are not that big, it is difficult to monitor all 30 students on Zoom,” he says. Rohan has also been facing problems with the broadband connection at home.

His parents had lodged a complaint a week back but the lockdown has ensured that that the complaint has remained unaddressed. “You get kicked out every now and then and then you get in after the speed is restored,” he says.

Namita Bhandari is a teacher at a prominent Noida school and teaches students of class one and two. She is facing a very different problem. “It is much easier with the bigger kids. But to keep these little ones concentrated on their computer screens is a big task by itself. Very often, moms who are homemakers leave their chores and sit down with them. But since most students have working parents, who can’t leave their work, it’s an uphill struggle.

So, you see them loitering and then vanishing for quite a while. I am at my wit’s end to find a solution to this,” she sounds exasperated. Rohan also says here is another issue with the classes. “While most teachers are sharing screens, we are still used to lessons being scribbled on blackboards. This is a change we are also coming to terms with,” he says. Rohan’s mom says the lockdown is having a strange effect on her child.

“He used to love outdoor sports and suddenly he can’t step out of his home. He has become quieter and more irritable. But Rohan says he is confident of adjusting to this new life. “We adapt better to technologies and changes. I have a feeling kids are taking to the lockdown much better than their parents,” he adds with a grin.

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