As the world pulls its socks in the fight against COVID-19, several sectors have found themselves in uncharted territories, including the education sector. The crisis has been a matter of concern from a while, and with the lock-down in place across the country, things have only got more challenging. Schools have closed, and examinations forfeited, but a teacher’s job doesn’t get any easier, perhaps, it only gets more challenging, as you worry about your students’ learning and your own strategies, while also continuing to brace yourself for the next course of action. Doing it all from home, without getting to meet your students like you generally would, doesn’t help either.
The transition from full time schooling to lock down, to hopefully full time schooling again soon, may bring with it several uncertainities. EdSense understands the challenges teachers are facing in these testing times. While we may not be able to predict the course ahead, we sure can help you drift through these challenging times, with these tips and pointers.
Prioritize Your Well Being
It is absolutely normal to go through emotions of fear and anxiety in a pandemic, when the path ahead is not clear. As important as it is for you to think of your students’ learning, it is equally important that you take the space and time to deal with your own emotions. Prioritize your well-being – both physical and mental. Analyse your thoughts and find ways to make peace with the situation. This will help you focus better on your passion for teaching, and your students.
Talk to Your Students About the Situation
Your students may be too young to understand the complexities of the crisis the world is in, which has in turn affected their routine and schooling. Even teenagers may not have a complete understanding of the situation. Talk to your students about the COVID-19 crisis and lock-downs, but also be sure to motivate them to get through these times. A student who does not have a clear picture of the situation, or is too panicked about it, will not be able to focus on his education, which is why it is important that teachers talk to them about it, and also address their fears, no matter when they arise. Most importantly, let them know that a lock down does not put their learning on halt, whether or not the school has online classes.
Have a Designated Working Space
Working from Home can get tricky, with the lines between professional and personal space getting blurred easily. Have a designated space, not just for online classes, but also when you’re doing anything work-related. You may even want to do your own learning in this space. Choose a place in your house where you won’t get distracted often. Communicate with your family about the do’s and don’ts with regards to approaching you in your work space. Having a designated space will help you focus better, avoid distractions, and keep things a little closer to normal.
Create a Plan
You may have had a plan in place earlier, but unprecedented times call for change and flexibility in the same. While your goal may still remain the same, create a plan that takes into account the change in scenario, accommodating students’ needs and learning. Have a time table in place, and create a routine, so that the students get used to this new form of learning. You may want to stay close to the regular routine students had in schools, while also adapting to the changes in place. Having a plan for classes during lock-down, will help you stay on course, making the transition back easier in the future.
Keep the communication going with the parents. Keep them updated about the progress their children are making. Proactive communication during these times will act as further assurance to parents. Also keep the window open for them to approach you. Parents are bound to have several concerns about their children’s education during this time. The more open you are to communicate, the lesser they will worry. The questions may differ from the ones they usually have. Fears and doubts may increase too, but when you have a plan and strategy in place, and the parents are looped in on their child’s learning journey, the confusion and chaos is bound to fade away with time. Keep the channels of communication open with your students too. Let them know how and when they can contact you. Seek feedback from them every now and then, to see how you can accommodate their needs.
Activities and Engagement
Find creative ways to keep students engaged. Classroom activities may no longer be the same, but they sure can be fun and interesting. Online classes need not limit activities and interaction. Assign activities that they can do during class time, or as homework. Students may face diminishing motivation being confined in their homes, without the school environment to keep them in check. Make learning fun and engaging, to help cheer them up. Keep their cognitive skills in check with activities that won’t let them fall into a mental rut. Assign activities that they can do from the comforts of their homes, keeping them busy and interested in learning.
Pay Special Attention to Struggling Students
This may be a tough time for students who normally struggle in school. The whole change in environment will only make things more difficult for them. Pay special attention to these students. Let them know that they are still cared for, and that you are open to helping them in ways they need. You may customize your schedule and strategies to accommodate their learning. Even if you do not teach online classes, ensure that you get in touch with these students, and offer your support. Such additional support is bound to reassure them that they can continue to learn, irrespective of the conditions. A little motivation may go a long way.
Seek Help and Collaborate
Being separated from the school and your colleagues must not mean the end of your collaboration. Continue to collaborate with the school and other teachers. Being isolated is bound to make your job challenging, and it is okay to seek help from others when this happens. You may also choose to find help through online resources, to help plan and execute your classes better.
Use This Time for Your Own Learning
The worst situations sometimes bring out the best opportunities. Use this time to develop your own learning. Continual Professional Development plays a major role in not just how far you go in your career, but also how you connect with your students. Several courses are available online, including some free ones, for you to learn from. You may also connect with others in the field, and share your own experiences, while learning from them. Join online communities or find a mentor to guide you. It’s a good thing that there never can be a lock down on opportunities to learn.
Prepare for the Future
Going by the nature of the crisis, one cannot be sure, for how long schools may remain closed, or how soon they may open. Create a plan for the official lock-down period, but also be prepared for any future uncertainties. Stay prepared, either to continue teaching during lock-down, or to welcome students back to school. Have a plan prepared for different situations that may arise. The more prepared you are, the easier this will be, both for you and your students.
We hope these tips will help you drift through these testing times. Wishing you the best as you continue your service to the learning community and the education sector.