Anthea Montessori’s Centre Head, Ms. Jyothi Nayak, provides a sneak peek into what goes on behind the scenes in the lives of teachers as we navigate online learning.

Up at 5am with a jerk that I had not mentioned an important point in the email to parents. Quickly logged in to my system to resend the message and cleared out all other emails from my inbox, as I knew it is going to be a long day! Plan for the day was to get the individualized work packets ready (for around 120+ children) for the next month.

Cooked a quick meal for myself, as I had to prepare myself the long day. Packed my lunch. Prepared breakfast for the family and left home by 8 am after finishing a few quick chores at home.

With the news of an anticipated lockdown, with no clarity on when that will be announced and for how long…. We had to fast track the process and finish the entire work in just 2 days. Finalize the work sheets that will go into each child’s pack – send the folders to the printer- sort the papers once prints have arrived. Coordinate with the printer, count the number of prints that arrived. Sort them based on the age and other prerequisites. Ensure the right papers go into the right pack. Oh! This child writes in print and not in cursive – child A like puzzles – child B needs help with sorting colours add this sheet to his packet …. each packet individualized according to the child’s needs 😊

Our online sessions are running parallelly. We as team had clearly shared our work for the day, who will be running the online sessions, who is calling the parents for the one on ones, who is at school to sort the work packets – we had spent the previous evening (post our online sessions for the day) planning on these to ensure today goes smooth. The emails for prints had gone out in the night, and instructions given to deliver a few folders at night so we could start our work as soon as we reach school in the morning. Teachers had to be on calls with us during their online sessions to help us in sorting if we had any doubts. It was multi-tasking at its best for each one of us in the team.

While we work on these packets all day – mind is parallelly worrying on so many other things: there was a threat of a lock down that could be announced anytime! Hope the internet works well today so the online sessions go smooth. Hope all the zoom links provided to the parents (for the sessions through the day) are all correct and work fine. Hope there is no ban on Zoom for our online classes to function……with all the uncertainties, we still went ahead positively that we will get the work packets ready and hand it over the next day.

We get a few calls informing us that the lockdown could be announced any time and the Government is serious about it. We did not want to take any chances having worked so much on these packets. So, we send out an email to parents saying the work packets will be ready for collection tomorrow morning. And now its race against time!

We teachers start discussing about the online classes as we are sorting the papers. It is interesting to note that all the parents seem to be attending all the sessions and have some great suggestions to make. In the 40-minute session, the teacher is expected to be:

  • As bubbly and as enthusiastic as possible
  • Use the right language and accent
  • Make it fun for children
  • Plan for body breaks (as there are many such sessions for the teacher)
  • Cover academics of course
  • Math – most important!
  • Ensure each child to get a chance to talk
  • Create possible scenarios for children to interact and socialize
  • Cover Telugu and Hindi
  • Remind them of ground rules – raise a quite hand if you need to talk, wait for your turn, etc.
  • Talk to them about social etiquette, courtesy, empathy etc
  • Teach them online etiquette
  • Observe and make notes about each child
  • Make notes of what to talk to the parents

Teachers are working continuously, with no lunch break or even a break for natures call! Their energy levels and enthusiasm seeing the children does not drop at any time of the day. They are in front of the laptop all day taking sessions one after the other, and preparing for the sessions next day, Lesson plans for the week, also adjust/modify the plan based on the observations. Work on worksheets to be sent for children for the following month. Talk to parents on a weekly basis, suggest ways of how to support the child better at home, update notes, observations for future reference. I started to wonder, is this a teacher that I am talking about or a Super-hero!

As we now introspect, learning curve for teachers was really big. All of this was new to all of us. We are trained to be in the classroom physically with children. Online sessions, technology are all new terms. We all had to become tech-savvy overnight. We took up this challenge with no complaints as it was the children that we were doing it for! We have worked through the summer learning these news ways of working, getting trained by mentors in different parts of the world, understanding the new normal. As we were all working from home, we have our children, family who have supported/helped us through out in their own special ways. A teacher’s day at home also is just like any other. Plan for household chores either before or after the sessions, give time for our children, spend time with family, juggle between roles while learning new ways of working from home. Stay up late in the night or wake up early in the morning to do justice to each role that we all play.

And we did it! We managed to finish the work and complete the humongous task that we had set for ourselves for the day! Tired, exhausted and a sense of satisfaction 😊 This is when it struck me that the stress levels for any teacher world over would be roughly the same and my respect for this tribe has grown multi-fold.

I come back home by 6.30 pm to see my son, who is seeing me for the first time for the day. I leave home even before he wakes up in the morning. I have to be as enthusiastic and give him a patient listening as this is the only time I get with him through the day. He is talking and updating me about how his day was, telling me all about how his online session was, how intrigued he was about the topic his teacher covered – 8th continent discovered! , how he managed to finish his follow up work for the day all by himself, his cricket practice and playing badminton for 3 hours. He proudly announces he managed to complete 20 thousand steps as per the smart watch, etc etc..…. he could go on…. He generally does not talk so much. Is he talking to me like this because he is missing me? Am I not spending enough time with him? Am I not available to my child when he needs me? All the guilt of a working mother starts to hover in my mind……and I realize how blissfully ignorant I am of this part of my world as I walk into the kitchen to get started with making dinner!

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