Student-Teacher Relationship during & post Covid-19(Direct excerpts, themes and ideas from the FICCI Arise Webinar on ‘Schools post lockdown – Why, What, How?’ held on 30th May 2020)

Student-Teacher Relationship during & post Covid-19(Direct excerpts, themes and ideas from the FICCI Arise Webinar on 'Schools post lockdown - Why, What, How?' held on 30th May 2020)

A dynamic that will undergo major change is the student-teacher relationship post this crisis. Communication will be key: a message going out to all students that we are in this together is imperative. Educators and management should acknowledge that the academic year has been greatly reduced, and so it is important to relook at our content driven curriculum. They must try and create meaning and understanding about these times – ask students what is it that they know and want to learn? Which areas are affected? The environment devastation: through cyclones, locusts – what can we do about these things? And what do we understand from it? It is important to engage students in such topics that are extremely relevant to these times and for the future.

Additionally, it is important to urge teachers to establish a spirit of rhythmic communication: understand children’s worries and doubts, and assure them that fear is normal. They should establish a connection with students and talk to them about how the pandemic has made us look inwards. And teach them to build resilience, endurance and to become better versions of themselves. Educators must also understand that meaningful education is not a debate between different tech platforms. It is also not the right time to complete the syllabus. Meaningful education is the art of living when the known world has lapsed and bookish knowledge becomes futile. Teachers must focus on anxiety management of children and must help them deal with their emotions. Issues such as Depression and domestic violence make it urgent for us as educators to create safe spaces: for discussion and engaging students. School leaders must prepare teachers to understand this shift.

Counselor sessions are also important but at such a time teachers themselves need to become counselors for the children that they teach. Their capacities will have to be developed. It is therefore crucial to keep teacher morale high. Faculty morale is the most important factor in all this, because if their morale is low, we are not going to be able to take other stakeholders with us during this transformation. In all of this, teachers will also need counseling sessions and support from the management to enable them to be the guiding for students at such an unpredictable time. Managements will have to be more patient and appreciative of their efforts, offer a listening ear when they need support and simultaneously ensure they are well-equipped with continuous professional development so that teachers and other staff are able to manage change effectively.

Teachers also need to think about how assessments will be done in a meaningful way remotely as this is very difficult when students are working remotely. It is important not to introduce too many new things at this stage. Right now, the focus must be on delivering lessons effectively, having a clear structure, making learning objectives explicit, catering to different learning styles, and more than anything else, trying to put yourself in students’ shoes and thinking about what could work for them. Make activities and tasks shorter and more collaborative that will make students work together but mainly managing stress level amongst students and constantly being in touch with them and keeping them positive. Different age groups will have different needs.

It is widely known that change is a constant but this crisis has given a new definition to this ‘constant.’ Resilience & adaptability is the answer. In the midst of this change, in a country closed down by multiple lockdowns, it is important to acknowledge that schools were not closed and will continue to remain operational. Only school buildings were closed, but schools were not. Teachers are working overtime to up skill and adopt technological skills to continue teaching, students are learning, and parents are being facilitators in this overnight change of roles. This, according to me, exemplifies resilience in its truest sense and we will continue to be awakened and pleasantly surprised by all that is possible in the education sector.

 

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