Happy Teacher's Day
Have you ever sat down to write your up-and-coming blog post just to find yourself staring blankly at your computer screen? I know I have. It’s a daunting task to get words out when you have no idea what you want to write. What makes it even worse is when the publish deadline is fast approaching and the cursor just continues to torment you with its ‘blinky-ness’. It might also feel like writer’s block, but I don’t really believe in writer’s block. What I do believe in is good relatable writing and proper planning of posts. Thinking about writing and planning skills automatically takes me back to the people who played a vital role in teaching them to me. And tomorrow being the 5th of September totally made sense too! Therefore, I dedicate this blog post to the backbone of our nation – the pillars behind our confidence – the souls who unconditionally wanted us to succeed asking for nothing in return – our beloved TEACHERS.
Think about your favorite teacher from elementary school. What made them so special? Maybe they were the first person who helped math not seem like a nightmare to you and instead of being afraid on exam day you actually started looking forward to a perfect score. If not the score, you felt confident of enjoying proving a theorem! Or maybe they let you borrow books from their personal collection just because they saw you enjoy referring to various books for your essay. Or maybe while distributing answer sheets they asked students to look at the way you approached a topic because they always smiled while grading your paper! The wisdom and mentorship that teachers provide can be life changing, especially for younger students. The more self-motivated a student is as they learn something new, the better prepared they’ll be to reach their potential. One of the best ways to encourage this is by building meaningful teacher-student relationships. Consider yourself lucky if you not only built at least one such relationship but also watched it grow beautifully with every passing year, even long after you left school. Every time you accomplish something meaningful, you remember them. Every time you are in town, you make sure you take out time to pay a visit to them. And every time they see you successful and happy in life, they fail to wipe that silently content and proud smile off their faces. That’s the kind of student-teacher relationship I’m talking about!
One of the biggest challenges staring at the face of this relationship today is the absence of actual classes in recent times. Schools being closed, exams being postponed, classes being shifted to online for over a year and a half has thrown educators and parents into the sweeping chaos of an unprecedented world that practically no one saw coming!! Even if you did see it coming, how do you prepare your mindset for something like this? Something you’ve never been through earlier…something you know for a fact cannot compensate for what you had known all your lives instead? You don’t. You absolutely cannot provide an alternative to the learning vibes of a classroom, the fun vibes of a playground, the chatter of students during breaks, the sharing of tiffin boxes, the interaction during a debate session, even the boring morning assembly that miraculously brought together thousands of pupils under a shared oath – the lack of all that is truly worrisome and heartbreaking.
While most young learners seem to have adjusted to this new routine just like us oldies have gotten accustomed to working from home, not all can practically afford the online method. A lot of rural students’ households barely save up enough to buy books and notebooks, talk about doing it all over smartphones and you put them in an impossible situation. Even if they did manage to buy a phone with great difficulty, most villages lack proper channels of communication, with water and electricity still being a priority to them, having an Internet connection probably doesn’t make the list yet. And then, with the adoption of online learning methods, interrupted study programmes is another big issue. Connectivity can never be fully trusted when it comes to remote mode of work, wherein despite a teacher’s best efforts, the question of how many students they actually reached remains unanswered. Also innovative and exploratory models of assessment and evaluation is not possible during this time. Dealing with this requires a great deal of self-learning by students. And let’s face it, as kids, how many of us truly were self-motivated to learn without the constant nagging of our parents and teachers? Unfortunately, students are now glued to laptops or mobile phones for hours and their social life is also virtual – something our parents were strictly against at that age but now leaves parents with no choice. Education leaders must grapple with seemingly impossible choices that balance health risks associated with in-person learning against the educational needs of children, which may be better served when kids are in their physical schools. The COVID-19 pandemic is transforming society in profound ways, often exacerbating social and economic inequalities in its wake. In an effort to curb its spread, governments around the world have moved to suspend face-to-face teaching in schools, affecting some 95% of the world’s student population—the largest disruption to education in history, or what we call LEARNING LOSS. But this is no time to feel sorry, this is the time to stand beside our teachers and students and help them make the best of the situation. Let’s blame a little less, acknowledge the good more. And once we are able to do so, let’s wish them a hearty, appreciative Happy Teacher’s Day to all the teachers who instill hope in hard times, who ignite imagination in unexpected ways, and who influence our lives not knowing exactly how significantly.