On the evening of 19th March, I received a call from Mr Sriniwas, a Hindi language teacher at GBSSS Rajokari, Delhi government school.
Sir, let me know if I can be engaged by the government for any kind of work, said Sriniwas Ji.
10 days later, when he came to know that his school had been identified as a food distribution centre during the lockdown, he called his principal and got himself engaged over there.
On 19th March, the Delhi government closed all its educational institutions and also postponed the annual exams considering the looming threats of increasing coronavirus cases. Neither government nor teachers were ready for this situation. Teachers who have been involved in classroom teaching-learning, found themselves locked inside the house. Some of them took a day, some of them took a week, but most of them came out with a plan to reach out to their students.
Why do you want to conduct the online class?
A month ago, I got an invitation to join a zoom meeting from Ms Vijeyta, an English teacher at SKV Rajokari, She arranged a meeting with all the teachers teaching class 10th and 12th She also requested her principal to join the meeting.
In that meeting with the help of other teachers, she prepared a plan for reaching out to the students of class 10th and 12th. Next day, I was surprised to see a screenshot of the class which she conducted with 10th class students. Some 14 students took part in that class.
Why do you want to conduct the online class? Is there any order? I asked her.
To answer my query, she replied… “My own kids are receiving online classes, so I want to reach out to my students.”
She is not only taking her class but also coordinating with other teachers of her school.
Ms. Priya Sharma, an English Teacher at Sarvodaya, Co-Ed, Mehram Nagar, is making small video and audio lessons of 1 to 2 minutes which can be shared on WhatsApp. As a teacher development coordinator of her school, she also engages and motivates other teachers.
Online classes with Time Table
Mr. Sudeep Pathak, a Sanskrit Teacher at GBSSS, Mahipal pur is not only leading the teaching- learning activities, but, he also attends duty at his school.
His school is a shelter home and also serves both cooked and dry food for the needy people. Mr. Pathak, a PhD degree holder, often engages in thinking of more effective ways of teaching and he is also concerned about the post corona days in school.
Can you suggest to me the name of a few teachers who are actively engaged in online teaching-learning practices?
I asked from Ms. Bharti over a phone call. She is a science teacher at ASMS, SKV Mahipalpur.
“Sir, we have a time table of online classes and each teacher from my school takes online classes as per the time table. How can I suggest a few names?” She replied to me.
I was surprised. Later, she shared the time table and all the finer details about the online classes that teachers are offering from her school.
Stories of Hope in the time of covid-19 pandemic
There are hundreds of such stories where teachers from across Delhi have come out from their comfort zone and found alternative ways of reaching out to their students. What is more interesting about them is that they all are government school teachers. For a long time, teachers have faced the stereotype of not working as long as they are not forced to work. Government has issued no circular asking teachers to conduct Zoom classes, to make video materials, to have YouTube channels, to prepare audio content, etc.
This is an extraordinary shift in the culture of teaching and learning. The epidemic could be an immediate reason, but the preparation began in 2015 when a man on a mission, Manish Sisodia, took charge of the Education Ministry. In his very first letter to the teachers, he wrote that any reform in the education sector is possible only when it is led by the teachers. To explain it further, he gave an analogy where he wrote;
“Teachers are like the Pilots of a plane, and the rest of the people in the system are the supporting staff” – Manish Sisodia
Through his 6 years of journey as an education minister, he has interacted with thousands of teachers and his faith in the capacity of the teachers is yielding results now.
It’s a shift in the culture, a shift from ‘show me the circular to ask me for work’. It was believed that one cannot ask a teacher to work anything beyond the assigned responsibility unless one has a circular, an official order.
Amazing Support from the Teachers
Today, hundreds of Delhi government school teachers are giving their duties on quarantine centres, at food distribution centres, at shelter homes, and they are posting their photos on social media platforms, not to show off, but to instil hope- we the teachers are also the frontline corona warriors.
The widespread concern about the impact of the epidemic has created a depressive environment around us. But, as we all know, the proverb-blessing in disguise.
The stories related to hundreds of Delhi government school teachers, reaching out to their students and also serving as a corona warrior ignites a fresh hope amidst this global challenge.
(About the Writer: Murari Jha is working with Delhi government schools as a Mentor Teacher and currently supporting five schools for their overall development. He has done his masters from TISS in Elementary education and currently pursuing his PhD in Education. He is writing regularly for reflectivediary.com . Here you may read some more stories.)