Reflections on Distance Teaching and Learning from Middle School

With school being fully virtual for over a year now, we asked some of our teachers and students to share their experiences from this year. Here is what they have to say.
‘With schools turning completely online, it has been quite a challenging process for everyone involved and has led to a lot of growth and discovery of multiple different techniques and resources that helped in adaptation. From figuring ways that help switch from submissions of physical models to making and submitting digital models, from group work in each others presence in classes to group work in online break out classes, from experimenting at the laboratory in school to experimenting on virtual labs along with family members – it has been a rewarding experience in trying to rise to the occasion and discovering ways that helped keep students engaged and to ensure that they do not lose out on opportunities to build skills despite the change in situation.’

-Ms. Prerna Gupta, Science Teacher

“Sir, this was the best class that we ever had“.
These were the words I heard when I was in the middle of teaching ‘States of Matter’ to my Grade 6 class. Teaching this topic with hands-on activities allows students to observe and link the concepts to the real world. However, with online classes, I had to convert our kitchens into laboratories. A risky but rewarding experience owing to the determination and risk-taking nature of my learners, and of course, the supervision and support of their parents.
During distance learning, it is very challenging to keep our teenagers engaged for 45 minutes, and yet I’ve had classes that went beyond our timings. When it comes to submissions, completing a task within a stipulated time and uploading it on ManageBac can get taxing for students but even then, all of them did well.
Although Covid-19 has created distance between us, technology has brought us together. Mastery over technology has been advantageous for the learners and the best example is the group work done by them. They were very successful in working collaboratively and presenting their work, all online.

In this period of virtual learning, students have developed various skills such as observation, note-taking, research, communication, presentation. The time has not only challenged the students but us, educators as well.

-Mr. Siddhesh, Science teacher

My experience as a teacher to teach online methods during a pandemic was challenging and required a lot of innovation to create a rapport with students as if they were in the same classroom, The concern was that students continue to remain engaged in class and the learning objectives were achieved well and they do not get stressed or bored. This was achieved by using lively teaching methods, challenging students to actively listen by building reciprocal communication, Q n A, collaborating pedagogical and holistic concepts which were more effective.

-Mr. Ishwar Mehra, Science and Math teacher

Better than expected, but not without its challenges, especially socially. That is how a couple of our students and PE teachers share their experience of how we went from on-campus Physical education to our Online Distance Learning PE Program in a matter of days.
It has been over a year since the BD campus was still open to students and staff, but the announcement of a lockdown changed the look and shape of how things were going to be. The precautions in the wake of the coronavirus have effectively made all educational institutions go online with no exceptions. As it was hard to find a good structure for online teaching the PE team prepared an Online Distance Learning PE Program of weekly activities to keep students fit and healthy, as it also gave students a chance to be independent and raise self-awareness about their personal health and safety. It helped us to stay more technology friendly, determined, adaptable, focussed and steepened our learning curve.

-Mr. Monish Panchal, Mr. Everisto Machado & Mr. Mohsin Allabux (PE Team members).

Here is what some of our Middle School students have to say:

During lockdown, I had less physical activity so doing the P.E exercises helped me a lot. We had a mixture of different activities focusing on building different parts. It was fun and helpful in different ways and I am really enjoying it!

Though we had to use virtual learning this year, our teachers adapted very well, making our PE periods fun and interesting. I found watching my videos funny, as I had never seen myself exercise before. This was a year of difficulty, but yet we enjoyed doing the PE exercises!

My experience in PE has been really good. It was really fun doing some of the workouts. Some workouts like the basketball one was really fun and helped me a lot.

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