Many years back, I was in school, and it was most important for me to ensure I don’t annoy any of my teachers. They were the source of information for me, I was always curious to know more and there were subjects that I just couldn’t keep up. No mobiles were touched until I got in college, and no computers, until I entered 8th grade. Studying for me, was all about books and my teachers. This has changed in a decade’s time. Everything is at a click of a button, and I am sure most teachers feel their relevance is waning as more and more students access information, a lot more than they could while getting training using these disruptive technologies.
In a post-covid-19 world we have spoken about its impact on education, learning remotely has become a norm. People speak of DO-IT-YOURSELF learning, where children learn on their own. Schools have been spoken about for their limited preparations for access to learning during such a pandemic. There have been models of education from previous natural disasters but none that could equip us for an impact so long. Parents and families instead of rationing food, are rationing the use of mobiles in the house so all the children have access to online sessions. In all of this very little is known about its impact on teachers—both at school and as tutors.
Richa, based in Noida talks about skill-based learnings in schools that go beyond textbooks, which became difficult to teach during Covid-19 as the question to access was always an issue where each child changed their numbers every now and then to get free data services, saving and rationing its use. At home, teachers like Richa were balancing their work-life by ensuring no complaints come from their families to miss out on any home chores.
In Mumbai, a 60-year-old teacher, Suniti Kale, learns technology with the support of her students, their parents, and her nephew so she could conduct her tuitions for CBSE students using zoom and writing on the Wacom pads to avoid the delay she faces when typing on the keyboards. Suniti feels teachers of her age have given up on learning and in the excuse of getting bored have avoided learning technology. She has seen the benefits of online education where she has connected with students even in the middle east. However, there are some teachers like Rashmi and coaching institute head LM Agrawal, who say parents have been very selective to have tutors from the same state to avoid any language barriers and have tutors who can coach even at home after the lockdown is lifted.
Rohit Arora is a tuition teacher in Mathura, a small town on the way to Agra from Delhi. It was Rohit’s brother who introduced him to teaching and tuitions when their family was facing financial issues. Over the years Rohit has been focusing on student learnings without the garb of minting money as a teacher. Many times, during the pandemic, Rohit even left getting the money from the parents, with the sole focus on the children learning from him. Rohit’s brother helped him get the screen and camera set up at home. Rohit is keen to be a tutor with him on a set-up that can help him compete with the institutions around him.
Deepak Joshi, a tutor in Mumbai, also has been giving his classes for free to his students in the village to ensure the students continue with their education. Many of the teachers struggle with the shallow learners among the students, who are influenced by only seeking information from Google, as Dani Khandelwal says in his discussion with me, he wants students to understand the why behind the information, research, and read. Manish Satyam, a Math teacher in Mau also shares that he wants students to learn based on its application in everyday life.
For many teachers, it was the family’s wish that they become teachers. For Rashmi, it was her parents, as her own mother was a schoolteacher, though they wanted their daughter to be a tuition teacher so she could have more options to scale and earn. For Shehnaaz, it was a safe career that her family she married into would allow her to pursue. For Madhuri Kamble, her husband got her the CET form so she could become a teacher, only to later become separated as her husband moved due to work and she wanted to continue as a teacher in her school. There are many stories where teachers during the Covid-19 lost all hopes of job and salary and it was their parents, mothers especially who encouraged them to continue. Pooja is one such story. Many such teachers are upset and looking out for their relevance, there has been a vacuum of learning as everyone wants to use technology everywhere as a simple solution for all. Teachers want the student’s learning to be focused, while technology only acts as an enabler. For many years classrooms provided information to students, today a simple click on the phone shares the same information, today’s classrooms need learnings and teachers want us to help them provide the tools for the same. Concentration, motivation, and retention is key for our learnings to improve, and feedback shared by teachers becomes important. Dynamind looks to be that enabler for the teachers to be used so our classrooms are driven by them being focused on learning rather than information-driven. Dr. Ram Bhushan a teacher in Kanpur wants it too, so let’s join him in the community of teachers that contributes towards empowering humanity.