Shiva Sagar, Teacher, Christel House

Born in Bangalore, India, Shiva Sagar did his engineering in computer science and started my career as an Educator, teaching Math and Physics, at Christel House India, where he completed his schooling as well. Christel House is an NGO for underprivileged children. Shiva Sagar strongly believes in educating children and help in creating a difference in their lives.

 

“Each of us has the right and the responsibility to assess the roads which lie ahead, and those over which we have traveled, and if the future road looms ominous or unpromising, and the roads back uninviting, then we need to gather our resolve and, carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road into another direction. If the new choice is also unpalatable, without embarrassment, we must be ready to change that as well.”

Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now

 

For students and teachers who are stuck at home and waiting to get back to school, the option at the moment is to create an online classroom. Both students and teachers sorely miss the excitement of sprucing up in the morning for the day, we miss the school environment and the school community. The extraordinary move that is occurring from the chalk and duster to the PCs and web getting viral all around the globe today.

Yes, I am talking about remote teaching that seems to have become a recent pattern in the field of education. Educators have found themselves planning for remote learning for the foreseeable future. Remote instructing happens outside of a physical classroom. Educators are separated from their students in time and distance. This kind of educating might be coordinated, where students watch instructors deliver and convey their talks live, or it can be where students watch lecture recordings at a later point in time.

This poses a lot of challenges. In the absence of a friendly, social atmosphere of a classroom how can a teacher help the student sustain attention and encourage active participation? The sessions have to be an interesting learning experience. A very difficult task indeed. Nevertheless, it is important to make remote teaching very interesting and engaging. How can I as a teacher make this remote teaching interactive?

Remote teaching need not be with expensive things.  

  1. It can be made effective with regular resources like online materials, worksheets, and free games. 
  2. Try to  limit the online discussions to small groups and make it constructive
  3. Assign different roles for students eg. First responder, Devil’s advocate, Summarizer, etc., Create an atmosphere where the students feel relaxed to ask questions and clarify their doubts.     
  4. Ask frequent questions for students to check their understanding. 
  5. It is better to keep the sessions brief and break your instructions into small chunks, then string them together to teach a concept. (Plan, Teach, and Practice.)
  6. Scaffolding is another significant methodology for teaching remotely. Students need step-by-step instruction especially if they are learning remotely.
  7. All through the teaching and learning, it gives an approach to students to react in the event that they need assistance. You can offer a survey or an exit ticket at the end of each session. Thus you can help the students to have a clear understanding of the concept taught and make it interactive.

One of the concerns of remote learning is the isolation and lack of interaction the students face. The teacher can create a discussion forum or a chat group while monitoring and guiding it.  Another effective way is to be to, encourage the students to take up a relevant topic to do a short research and make a presentation with Ppts. This can be followed by a question-answer session and end up with the students recapitulating what they have learned, make use of online games and videos related to the topics. Here are a few best online tools: (Kahoot, Learn zillion, Khan Academy, Jeopardy Labs, Study Jams, Flocabulary, Brain Pop, Justpaste it, Quizlet, Google documents) 

The teacher needs enough time to prepare and complete the work before the next session starts. It is important to get feedback from the students and help them with any difficulties they may have. This time of interaction may also help in creating a relaxed atmosphere to speak out their ideas and concerns Teachers must focus just on the essential skills, be flexible with the expectations by using familiar platforms. This makes the students develop confidence. 

Group work: we may, as teachers want students to work together in small groups to solve problems or analyze new examples of the phenomenon that we are teaching. Google Docs and Google Slides are wonderful.

Set some independent work and assignments to support and reinforce the learning. It is significant while setting assignments remotely to be very clear in the instructions and explicit in what is expected and the amount of time that should be spent on the task. During this time of distance learning, encourage students to explore topics related to the subject.  Encourage students to use Self-assessment strategies like the reflections sheets, self-assessment rubrics, graphic organizers, checklists, and individual targets sheets. This will help the students review what they have learned and helped the teachers to check on the learning outcome.

Indeed remote teaching is a challenge, and yet we as teachers must try to make each session innovative and engaging. It is essential to open doors for interaction, help every student to be a part of the learning environment. Ask students to use various options such as a ‘raised hand’ icon, or a thumbs-up or down. In addition, there are richer live polling options which could be useful.

Let us keep working towards making teaching and learning fun and fruitful in spite of the unexpected and unprecedented hurdles. Our concern for the young children as well as the joy of teaching will surely motivate us to cope with the crisis in the best possible way.

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