A lot has been said and done in the past year and a half, especially in the world of Education-from traditional classroom teaching to online lectures, assessments and webinars.

Kiran Sangeeta Murali

Teachers, students and parents have been a part of a major, rather an exceptional transition. With the respective state governments giving permission to reopen regular school with necessary precautions, the scene as we know will now move on to what is being called the ‘Hybrid’ method of learning which is an interdependent combination of both online and offline classes. There has been a lot of debate on whether such an arrangement is required or not. Will it prove successful? The biggest question is whether it will truly help those in need or not. With every affected party (students, teachers and parents) having their own perspective, I would like to present a few pointers as the School Counsellor-

Safety, Security and Protection of health and life of any person, be it a student, a teacher or a coach is supremely important. No class, no game, no event can give any good result if there is an underlying fear for life. Proper COVID precautions and protocols need to be followed at all costs and at all times. Vaccination of staff has been made mandatory to attend to the needs of the students and school.

After almost a year and a half of attending online classes gearing back slowly to the offline medium is certainly a welcome change for a majority of the students, teachers and parents but for some students to adapt to the whole new mental ‘makeup’ or ‘attitude’ to commit themselves to sit through the 40 minute periods with an average of six classes a day in regular classrooms may seem a daunting task now. After all, these online classes were being provided in the comfort of their homes for a year and a half now. Certainly,  somewhere there has been a considerable dilution in their outlook which shows glaringly in their casual approach towards learning ( late logins in online-classes, frequent camera off, poor participation in discussions, low quality of submissions, using unfair means in online assessments etc. are some of the  common complaints I have heard). Internet and screen addiction amongst children are now severe and most homes confessed that there was little they could do to help their wards.

Reorganising and restructuring a student’s day bit by bit, a small step at a time would help deal with their offline time-table gradually. Teachers and parents would have to ensure that there are no unreal expectations or stringent rules for at least the first few weeks of offline classes. Being flexible and mindful to the fact that everyone has gone through the pandemic, notably one of the toughest periods, we definitely would need some empathy and compassion to face what follows now. Patience shall be a valuable trait. Your equanimity and perseverance in such recondite times would be crucial for progression.

A goal when broken down in smaller, do-able steps shows better results. Focus on simple tasks at hand like their classroom behaviour and participation first. A child who feels understood and appreciated will always perform better. Make them feel seen and heard. They missed this contact the most while attending the online classes. Laziness and carelessness have become common amongst a majority of children. Our intention should be to motivate them consciously and positively reinforce their efforts.

For issues like phone and internet addiction, educating them on their vices and substituting them with interesting peer and family activities and projects would be helpful. Again, the key to note is the ‘wean-off’ strategy, truncating their online presence, consistently one day at a time. Games and sports would be a significant addition in the time-table to channelize their physical energy which in turn would alleviate their boredom too.

Extended family time was one of the ‘much desired’ side-effects of the pandemic lockdown .Now as the world limps back to normal, it Is truly crucial not to disregard that aspect.

The world has realised the importance of innovation and implementation of alternative education styles and methods. The dynamic shift in how teaching and learning takes place in schools and universities showcase that anything and everything is possible if we put our minds and efforts to make it happen. Through this crisis and beyond whatever changes arise, we must embrace them to see where they lead us. 2021-22 will not be easy either. This phase will have its own set of ups and downs. But, someday, looking back at history, I am sure we all would concede that we survived the worst and our resilience only grew stronger with every step along the way. Educators, students, parents and a nation achieved all that they did because we stood by each other throughout.