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Impact of online classes on teachers

Post by on Wednesday, October 13, 2021

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 The Covid-19 pandemic has left every sector of Jammu and Kashmir disturbed. In Kashmir, school education has been affected for over one and a half years. 
In 2020, the lockdown imposed due to the spread of Covid-19 led to the closure of schools in the valley. All the schools started an online mode of education to reach out to students. Teachers of government and private schools started delivering online classes though virtual platforms like WhatsApp, Zoom, and Google Classrooms.
After the first lockdown, the schools were opened earlier this year in March for a brief period but were closed again because of increasing Covid cases in the valley.
Experts say that not only students but teachers are also victims of huge physical and psychological problems because of online classes. The big psychological impact that teachers face during this period is not having face to face interaction with their students.
Dr. Abdul Majid, Head, Department of Psychiatry, SKIIMS said that the teacher-student relationship is not only about completing syllabus but beyond that as the teacher helps in developing the personality of every student.
“Teachers consider students a part of their family. They make students behave in the right way and the good behavioral changes among students can only come when a teacher has a physical interaction with students,” he said.
Teachers said that due to the physical barrier in the virtual environment, the teaching process has become difficult.
“As there is no face-to-face interaction in online classes, it becomes difficult for us to explain little things. We don’t even know if the student who has joined the class is even there or not,” a teacher said, adding, “not just books, we teach them about values and good manners.”
Dr. Majid said there is a digital divide between the rural and urban areas. Many people in rural areas are lacking the facilities of smart phones. “There are lots of people who don’t even have a smartphone. For a teacher, it is not only catering to high profile students but she is concerned about every student in the school. A child who is a good performer at school is now lagging behind because he doesn’t have a phone. The teacher might be feeling it,” he said.
A teacher said that some students have not attended a single class since online classes have started. She said, “Their reason is unavailability of a phone. Sometimes their parents don’t allow them to use gadgets even if it’s for educational purposes. By this we have no hold on those students who need us most.”
One of the reasons that experts cited is newness to the concept of online classes “The idea of online classes was totally strange to the student as well as teachers’ community. They have faced lots of difficulties while adjusting with the technology,” Dr. Majid said.
Each teacher has at least two classes to take in a day. The duration of the class in different schools varies from 40-50 minutes.  Controlling the classroom in virtual platforms has become very difficult. “Some students are really naughty at times. There have been reports that some antisocial and naughty students would stalk their teachers and would send inappropriate text and pictures,” Dr. Majid added.
Experts said that there is a difficult time for teachers who have rented houses or houses with a couple of rooms, teaching their own kids or if the teacher's family is Covid positive or if someone from their family has died.
A teacher and a mother of two kids said that she hardly finds time to spend with her family. “Online classes are the only option to teach students right now but we are human beings too. I don’t know about my children’s studies. I don’t pay attention to anything now. My social life is disturbed,” she said.
A private school teacher said that after taking online classes, she has to maintain an attendance sheet. Then she has to prepare for the next class. Also, she has to call parents of the students who didn’t turn up to collect previous results. She feels overloaded with work. 
 “This is my schedule since online classes have started; one work after another. Sometimes there is more work to do. Presently, the session is coming to an end. Maintaining report cards and preparing question papers are some of the tasks in my To-Do list,” she added.
The normal working hours of any school is from 9 am to 3 pm. Teachers complain that since online classes, there are no fixed working hours.  Any instruction from the higher ups can come at any time. The working hours depend upon the amount of work they get on the particular day. Sometimes it stretches throughout the day till evening.
Usually in the starting of the new session, when a teacher has to prepare audio and video lectures, also make study materials and keep records of the new students, it takes more time than normal days.
A private school teacher while sharing her experience said, “Once we got an instruction at 11 pm. Most of us were not able to see because we had slept. Next day, we were told if anyone would ignore the message, the employee will have to face a two-day salary deduction. This is not fair. There is a time for everything.”
The long working hours have taken a toll on the teachers’ physical health. Many complain of obesity, fatigue, stiffness in bones, back and neck problems. Also, continuous exposure of mobiles and laptops have led to the headache and eye-sight problems.
An official from the Education department said that the Directorate of School Education has issued a fixed timing of working hours for teachers twice. “There are also NCERT guidelines. Apart from online classes, the government had advised hybrid mode of education for educational institutions. Holding community classes in open space while following proper SOPs, sending assignments home can be done,” he said.
Some elderly teachers are struggling with the phones while giving online classes. A 45-year-old teacher said that she usually finds it difficult to conduct classes through virtual platforms like WhatsApp and Google meet.
 “I have used phones for making calls only. When and where to change the settings of the groups hampers me a lot. I have to take help from my daughter whenever I encounter any inconvenience,” she said.
The contact numbers of teachers are available to the parents. Teachers said that they receive frequent calls from parents without taking time into consideration.
“Since our phone numbers are with the parents and tuition teachers of the student, they call us without consideration of time. One parent once called me at 10 pm and said keep my kid on leave tomorrow. Many times, I have received calls from strangers. We don’t know who is on the other side of the line,” said a teacher.
Teachers said they have observed behavioral changes in themselves. Irritability, loss of temper and anger issues are some common changes.
The pressure to complete the syllabus on time and for providing better teaching experience to students, teachers go through much strain. In addition to this, teachers complain about delays and non-payment of salaries.
A teacher from a private school said, “Since lockdown started our salary has never been paid on time and is still pending from the last four months. This has added to our agony. We have our expenses. Why are we working then if we have to make purchases on credits?”
Dr. Faheem said working for prolonged hours without breaks leads to physical exhaustion. “Work from home has caused health issues. You can’t get an office-like atmosphere at home.”  He suggested some tips to avoid physical problems. “Taking shorts breaks during classes, improving your posture and stretching can help you avoid stiffness of bones. Usage of electronic gadgets should be minimized,” he said.
Dr. Majid suggested some tips for everyone specially to remain stress free during Covid times.
“You need to have adequate sleep for 7-9 hours. You need to be consistent with the sleeping pattern. Have a balanced diet. Restrict fats, sugar, salts. Take vegetables, fruits, and fluids. Exercise continuously. Connect your family, friends and students. Call your students and ask why he is absent or not performing well in the class. Devote yourself to social cause and Almighty. Invent new hobbies, improve your hygiene and get vaccinated,” Dr. Majid said.

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