At Ekya we teachers and educators are perennial learners. Ekya provides us a platform to learn new things and helps us get better at what we do. It was the same this year too and that helped us prepare well for the new aspect of learning in education today that is ‘online classes’.
It was the first time we got to understand how teaching-learning can be done effectively using online tools and engagement strategies. We were introduced to Zoom and trained on other online strategies for effective teaching, which we were totally unaware of earlier.
When I got to know that I will be handling online classes for the youngest of the lot that is sub-juniors.I had mixed feelings. I couldn’t imagine a two and a half and a three-year-old sitting in front of the Computer system, watching me on screen, listening to my instructions, or participating in instructional activities. Some questions in my mind were – “How will I make them follow classroom norms like waiting for their turn, muting, unmuting, raising their hands when they have to talk”. These were my fears and that which took some time to get overpowered. They were multifold and were centered around my ability to reach every student in class in an effective way.
I had many questions running in my mind too like- How will I give attention to each and every child? How will I make every child feel connected to the classroom? How will I ensure that they interact with me and with others in the class? How will I be evaluated for my teaching? Will I be able to give my 100% in this format of teaching?
My experience of my first session at the Pre-Primary changed the way I looked at online classes for children of these grades. The session started with an introduction where I could see students accompanied by their parents. Few of them or rather most of them were reluctant to even sit. I could hear them crying and telling “This is not my school” “She is not my teacher” “I don’t want to sit and see this ma’am”. I remember one child hiding under the table and her parents coaxing her to come out and listen to me.
I decided to continue the class and encouraged them to just listen to me from wherever they are and however they want to. I simply began by asking their likes, dislikes, and interests. I was amazed by a few of their responses that showed clearly what they would like to see and learn in my class and also how they would want it.
Listening to their responses I thought if I begin with music and dance I can connect with them easily. And so, in the second half of the session, all I did was play music and dance with them. I was at the same time a little apprehensive about their parents’ watching me. My instincts told me that this is the best way to grab my students’ attention and make them comfortable in my class. And, by the end of the session, I could see most of them dancing.
I was pleasantly surprised by the parents’ positive and affirmative responses. In just a week’s time students were not only attentive in class but very comfortably muting, unmuting, and following other classroom rules too.
The way my students behaved and bonded with me, their enthusiasm, their capabilities to understand, observe, and comprehend was something that I feel is a wonderful preschool experience.
To share one more of my experience. During a show and tell activity on ‘my favorite food’ I had told my students that I loved the masala dosa that my mom makes when I visit her. Many days passed by after this and one day I was conducting a session from my mom’s house as I visited her. One of my students noticed a difference in my home background and enquired about it. When I informed her that I was at my mother’s place she was quick to ask, ‘did you have masala dosa?’.What surprised me was the child’s observation and the capacity of retention.
Today, after successfully completing 14 weeks of teaching and evolving as a teacher on an online platform, I get to hear from parents that my students look forward to my classes and they keep talking about me to everyone at home.
This made me understand that irrespective of the platform and the age if you are able to deliver what the child needs and the way the child needs he/she will do what is expected of them.
Ms. Shanthi Shetty