Attending the self-directed and self-paced MOOC exercise was really useful and interesting. It helped me revise all of my learning and upgrade my methods with the expertise and advice of more than 12 speakers across the globe. All the resources had so much to offer. The parts of it that I enjoyed the most were “Teaching with a Purpose” and “Motivating Children Online” as both are extremely relevant for us today. While one course gave me insights on language learning, the other showed me how to incorporate elements of well being in both teaching and learning. Indeed a combination of academics and health makes education holistic to a large extent.
To elaborate, I am able to reflect on the use of pre-reading, miming, and picture order, the latter being a personal favorite of mine as we also did this during my own teacher training program. When we give students the freedom to create an understanding which can later be compared to the original sequence of the story, they’re more intrigued to know why the author may have thought about the story in the way that they originally did. In a situation where I intend to help enhance my students’ imagination, I would use such an activity. Curating a method that works well for a specific purpose has its perks and makes the learning process a lot more promising.
A great piece of advice that I would like to share is—less is more, especially in the online setting. While understanding the enhancement technology gives the educator in a classroom, we often forget that it may be an overload for the student on the receiving end. Pacing ourselves, sticking to the time-limit/duration of the class, encouraging words of wisdom, reflective feedback, welcome greetings and even giving students a chance to have a spotlight in class just might do the trick to keep them motivated!
Some of the problems we struggle with include not knowing what our students may be feeling today. Recently, in one of my grade 10 classes, we have begun chatting about how much the students miss school and the response was quite moving. Children are feeling what is famously described as “FOMO”, to be precise, a “Fear Of Missing Out”. What can help them during these hard times is to get a few minutes to be funny with their friends and teachers. In order to organize this, at the end of each season of exams, we make sure that we play a few classroom games like hangman, Pictionary, guess who, etc., just to lighten the mood and give them something to remember about online classes as well. So go ahead and ask your class what they’re really feeling the next time you see them, even virtually!
Coming back to the subject, receiving feedback from them across the screen is new for us and also very new for them, therefore, setting context by sharing intentions and motives, showing them images, real-life examples, enacting, mimicking, debating, etc., are some of the many ways in which we can engage our students and make the classroom experience complete even during a Zoom call.
Being empathetic especially when it comes to differently-abled children is indeed one of my strong feelings at the moment. The world may seem to spin a little too fast for them during such a difficult time and it truly is up to the teacher to make a real difference in their eyes. They need all the encouragement they can get. Sometimes when a task is being conducted, teachers can make time to attend to those students personally. Such activities are a win-win as they help those who would like to work independently and allow us to focus on the others who cannot.
Another great thing that I reflect upon and would like to share is about bringing enthusiasm to the classroom. When the mood is set with a big smile and cheery eyes, the learning becomes less dense and more fun! In order to understand where our students stand with respect to grasping concepts that we cover during class, it is always good to engage them in discussions with each other. In an online setting this is more doable as we have everyone’s undivided attention and being the host of the meeting, we, the educators, have full control over directing the conversation wisely.
MOOC platform also enabled me to reconnect with fellow teachers from all over the world. Their elaborate comments helped me know that many teachers have similar situations and challenges, and this was indeed reassuring. For instance, we focused on how we can help children improve their communication and why it is important to know the value of language skills for all to implement. The relevance of certain activities that we are already extensively implementing in our own school curriculum makes me realize how we at Ekya are at par with the standards of International Education.
Finally, I’d like to conclude my testimony by saying I am very happy to see that there is no limit to what we can do as educators even in the online setting! By reading up on newer methods and upskilling, staying current and updated on technology, and experimenting with new teaching methods in our classrooms, we can take the philosophy of learning to greater heights. You know what they say—by learning you will teach, and by teaching, you will inevitably learn.
Happy teaching, teachers! 🙂
By Lekha Gopi,
Grades 10, 12 , Ekya ITPL