Tenacity & Mental Wellness of the Teachers
“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change.” ….. Paulo Coelho
These last 4 months have been a roller coaster ride particularly for the teaching community who have witnessed colossal changes that they accepted and adapted to the new normal. Prior to the new norm, most of us had workable knowledge of laptops, computers or for that matter smart phones but who would have thought that these gadgets will exclusively be used for online classes. For that matter 6 months back no would have thought of this transcendental instructional shift from a regular classroom to a whole new world of virtual learning and virtual classrooms.
For us at ASPAM Scottish, there have been many rapid changes during these 4 months starting from choosing a dependable and secured online portal, so we started with Skype shifted to Zoom and finally to MS Teams and in each case there was a new learning i.e. how to operate and get connected besides the preparation sessions to train, rehearse and master the operations. Then started scrimmage for online class based on blended learning model with inclusion of NCF components, skill based approach, PPT, and AV aids. All these efforts were harnessed by the teachers to make their virtual sessions interesting, engaging and joyful. Once it was settled then the online tools in form of included padlet, mentimeter, my quiz.com were included to achieve clarity of concepts and at the same time keep children gainfully engaged in these virtual sessions. Once the children were connected and engaged in cybernetic classes, then it was time to assess their learning outcomes so online assessments were conducted wherein there was planning and implementation of online question papers, invigilation and correction. As part of result declaration it was time to organise the first ever online PTM where the teachers and parents on the virtual platform discussed remedial and diagnostic measures for academic improvement of the students. As holistic development is the hallmark of education so we started with online assemblies and activities. The energy put into make it functional was achieved when parents appreciated and the students participated in large numbers with a lot of enthusiasm.
Everything in terms of teaching worked as it was the teacher who ensured that everything was aligned, synchronized and most importantly age appropriate. They were quite happy that they have learnt, adapted themselves to this new working style, received appreciations from parents and achieved a few milestones yet it was causing fatigue and strain in them and it is here that teachers’ health particular their mental health and wellness needed care and support. The following ways really helped the teachers facing stress and anxiety:
- An open door policy helped the teachers to express themselves and share their concerns/queries
- Appreciation mails were marked to the teachers for their commendable achievements
- Lessening the load of the teachers in terms of number of classes taken by them per day
- There are activities and workshops for teachers every Saturday and in them a few are mandatory and a few optional. The teachers are provided with tips so as to keep themselves rejuvenated. The mandatory sessions create an aura of positivity and happy school with happy teachers despite enormous angst and increased screen time.
Some of the mandatory sessions undertaken by the teachers are –
- Wellness Week- Included playing online tombola, quiz and many more, getting beautifully dressed up, wearing a particular coloured clothes and coming online and the participants who accomplished the task were given e-certificates.
- Be mindful – Mindfulness sessions were hosted to create a calming environment.
- Power of positivity – Sharing some experiences/experiments to show how positivity helps.
- Art therapy – Everybody to draw something to show their creativity but were not judged on that.
- Physical health tips & exercise
- Re define your work place- Making one’s home/work station creative & sharing the picture of the same with colleagues.
Thus the teachers as real mentors and facilitators ensured that there was no lockdown, quarantine or for that matter isolation of children from teaching –learning process. They are the real champions who just like COVID warriors showed their tenacity and worked insistently. Now it’s the most pertinent time wherein we should acknowledge the relentless selfless service rendered by these noble professionals by identifying their contribution to the society and country. For us teachers are the first and foremost pillars of the education system and we shout out to appreciate and graciously recognize their good work during these prevalent uncertain times.