From WhatsApp video calls to voice notes and Zoom meetings, we’ve learnt along the way. Every day is an experience in our online classroom and no matter what happens, we always try and show up the next day.  

The virtual world is daunting, even for people with digital literacy. Taking on the role of an online teacher was scary because of this. My students were new to online learning. Some children had access to the virtual world only because of an external source and a pandemic. The students and I had a long way to go. 

We met for the very first time on a Whatsapp video call. 

We played a few games and spent some time introducing ourselves. Soon, these check-in calls turned into evanescent classes. We established norms and made it a point to follow them. I began by showing them illustrations of the norms. As time progressed, they didn’t need them anymore. All of us were in spaces we considered home. We had to make an effort to create a classroom environment for ourselves. I started by getting a blackboard. The students were thrilled to see it! Everyone made sure to find a corner at home where they could listen and learn, a corner where the reception was good, a place where there was not a lot of noise.

Soon, we switched to zoom for our classes. 

The number of students who participated in class saw a drastic increase. Almost ten students attended every day. All the students seemed to know what to do!

We created a space for us to share our experiences and wish each other for birthdays. The students had learned to raise hands and tag another student etc. It created an aura of excitement. 

One of the students started using the edit option on their tab to edit the worksheets I sent out to them. I was thrilled! Following this incident, the students tried and learnt how to edit a worksheet and send a voice note. They began telling me stories and calling me if they had questions. They even became very vocal about whether they had understood and using the reactions and functions on Zoom!

The thumbs up/thumbs down norm became a vital part of our class. They had begun their journey into self-learning. Nothing made me happier. Learning from one another and taking turns has become a habit now.

The students keep each other accountable and maintain a healthy spirit of competition when homework and activities are concerned. The process was not all sunshine and rainbows. I saw children cry because they couldn’t understand what to do. I had times when I felt like I had failed as their teacher. But when the next day dawned, we made sure to be part of the class and try again. 

I love that my students make sure to call me every morning and check if classes will take place. “Miss, do we have class today, Miss?” they ask. 

We now have a favourite song and a schedule in place. We even have a routine for when we feel a bit sleepy in class. We can’t wait to be in a physical setting together, but we’re ready to continue learning online until then!

Wordsmith: Charlene Judith Pereira – Bhumi Fellow

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