I deserve to be seen and heard – offline and online

Author: Monika Thangavelu, Bhumi Fellow


Beginning of the fellowship, I was not sure what an online classroom might look like. There are pros and cons to any new experience. At the end of the day, what matters is the efforts we put in to address the challenges that come along the way. 

Everyone faced the challenge of transferring from an offline school setting to an online one. None of us would have imagined ‘a complete online schooling’. But what came true is the phrase – “Nothing is impossible”. Students were able to attend classes, meet their friends, and dance and sing too. Thanks to technology!

However, during the start of online classes across schools, everyone had this prominent question, “will students get the same experience of an offline school?”. When online classes became the new normal, some major concerns followed up. The possibility of giving attention to all children, children’s ability to concentrate, the capacity to engage, and their exposure itself. At the beginning of the fellowship, even I was not sure of the answers to these questions and it took a long time to figure out potential and sustainable solutions. 

What did I do?

Sharing spaces:

It was important to create spaces for children to share. These spaces are created at the beginning, middle, and end of the class. We have formal and subject-relevant space during the session. Whereas in the beginning and at the end, we engage in an informal conversation about friends, home, food, and their hobbies.  This helps children to open up and keeps them engaged throughout the session.

Non-verbal communication:

Though it is essential to keep all the children engaged, sometimes it becomes chaotic in an online setting. To bridge this gap, activities are planned in a way that doesn’t require them to unmute and answer. Some of the activities include drawing the responses, showing hand signs or touching their parts of the face to represent an answer, and annotating responses through zoom settings. It gives all the children a chance to participate and ensures accountability. 

Co-monitoring the sessions:

The virtual mode has made it possible for two teachers to coordinate and work alongside. While one teaches, the other can monitor the students. This helps to keep track of each student and their activities. 

Along with the above-mentioned practices, we (other teachers and I) also use check-in questions and mindfulness practices shared with us through ‘social and emotional learning’ sessions by HELO Team, Bhumi. 

Initially, it was difficult for all of us. But, quicker adaptability by teachers, students, and parents helped to create an enabling and engaging offline atmosphere for the children. Having said that, there are pros and cons to any new experience. At the end of the day, what matters is the efforts we put in to address the challenges that come along the way.

For children coming from underprivileged backgrounds, education is the only way to secure their futures. It helps them identify their voice and create the future of their dreams. If you’re passionate about driving change through education, register here: http://fellowship.bhumi.ngo/

#BhumiFellowship #Education

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