Sunday, June 21, 2020

Anjali - Online Classes

Come June 1, 2020, and something I have never imagined happened. All schools were shut thanks to the pandemic and so was Anjali's school, Daksha. The way forward (actually they had already conducted online classes during April 2020, but we all hoped it would fade off and things would be normal soon, then), was online classes. Instructions were given and the children got ready to go to school, online.
Pic Satish Nargundkar

Clearly, it had its challenges. You needed a laptop, a good internet connection, a place where you could sit comfortably for long periods without getting disturbed. And this was compounded for teachers I guess who needed to get used to this new normal, hook up their gadgets, learn new skills, manage home and work, and mostly make it interesting for the children.

Initially, classes began at 8 am and continued till 3. After a week or so they changed it to 830 am. Now it has more or less settled into a rhythm. 830 am to 945 am. Breakfast break of 45 minutes. Then 1030 am to 1145 am. Break of 15 minutes. Then 12 pm to 115 pm. Break for lunch.

45 minutes of lunch break. Then the last class from 2 pm to 315 pm.

Anjali found her space say from distraction in the far corner of the house. A chair was tried and then another before the original chair was restored. Sh will be in intense concentration. at times rushing to her room to get some book or accessory. At times when the posture gets strenuous, she changes her position.

There's enough homework too so I wondered if it was getting a bit hectic. Luckily the school also did a survey to collect feedback from the students and parents. I suggested a class where the students interacted - a virtual playground - and maybe another where they, under the teacher's guidance, discuss what's on their mind. It's been a tough three months for them too.

Anjali feels that her concentration levels are higher though she would have preferred going to school and meeting her friends. The only issue she had was not being able to see the teachers because just listening to their voice and seeing a screen with content is not interesting. But anyway, these are early days and they are all figuring out things. The survey was a great idea to course correct.

There are times when the power goes off or the internet connection s bad and  I feel bad for her and the other students. At times when these things happen at the teacher's end also there is some frustration at both ends but I found the teachers to be extremely patient. Not every student would have had a laptop dedicated to them or a phone, so someone surely is sacrificing a phone or a laptop and space. Luckily for Anjali, I got a laptop gifted by my friend Vasu (who has always been encouraging about my writing journey in his own quiet way) just before the lockdown and since I use the desktop when I am at home, she has a laptop for her use. 

Today, being Father's day and Yoga day the senior students and the school got together and had a yoga session on Zoom and then a music quiz (also Music day) where students could participate with their fathers. I joined Anjali and helped her with two answers - 'Country Roads' by John Denver and 'Happy Together' by the Turtles. Kaniyan, from 9th, did a good job of conducting the quiz on Zoom. Anita attended the session as well and actually won - she got the most answers right. Anjali was surprised at the range of her knowledge in music - Anita knew songs from 'Mera Jhoota gain Japani' to One Direction! I hope they have more such fun sessions because they need to interact even on fun, extra-curricular spaces.

I am wondering how it will be if online classes continue for another two months. Will the children get used to being at home, away from school? Will they prefer online more? Will there be a mix of the best of both worlds? I am waiting and watching.

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