Reflections from the first month of distance learning

I never thought that one day I would have to explain the concepts of Chemistry to my students from my home on the laptop. The current pandemic situation has compelled us to change the scenario of physical teaching into virtual teaching. Needless to say, it is impossible to shift to distance learning overnight without lots of trial and error. To be precise, a shift in mindset was required, more than anything else.

We were fortunate that before the lockdown was announced in the country, our team had developed a strategy to overcome the impending hurdle by migrating into virtual teaching and an appropriate training was provided to us before things could get worse.

Coming to think of challenges, the primary concern would be the lack of movement. Working from home can be isolating, restrictive and therefore, depressing for both teachers and students. Moreover, explaining the concepts without proper demonstration of experiments, at least for Chemistry teachers like me, becomes very difficult. That is where online simulations come in handy to us educators. Another challenge is in giving assessments. Whilst being in the confines of our homes, the whole aspect of assessments is based on trust as teachers cannot monitor the students. Thankfully, our students have made it a point to ensure integrity during assessments and possess the strength to lend whatever time and energy they’re asked to.

During this online teaching one thing that I’ve noticed is that the attendance in most of my classes has been 100 percent, which is a very motivating and exciting factor for me.

In this scenario, technology has made various platforms available for learning and teaching and made a teacher’s job easy. Using advanced technology and online portals, we have been recording videos of our classes, so that our learners can access content more than once. These opportunities hold significant potential for expanding how learners learn in a technology-driven world. The facility of sharing the laptop screen has helped us to improve our video communication efficiency.

But as a teacher whose true passion lies in being face to face with his students, I can say that virtual teaching will never replace the love, the laugh, the learning, the smiles on my students’ faces, the “aha” moments that happen in an actual classroom. The quarantine isn’t a break for teachers and students….it’s heartbreak. However, I’d like to comfort myself knowing that whether virtual or not, I’m lucky that I’m doing what I love with the people I love, even if it’s through a 13″ screen.

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