For a teacher to stay away from his students is an extremely painful experience. I remember when the central government imposed lockdown across the country, all the school curricular and extra-curricular activities had to be shut down. The lockdown imposed since March 2020 had to be extended month by month every time.
Attending a government school in a remote village, all my students required greater attention. They have a rural background and pursue farming apart from studies. In the beginning, I contacted three of my 8th-class students through video calls on WhatsApp. Pawan, Adarsh and Bhavesh almost broke down over the call when they saw me live after months. Then, I made several WhatsApp groups like ‘Science 6th’, ‘Science 10th’, etc. and contacted them daily.
Further, I instructed them with the help of the ‘Har Ghar Pathshala’ programme of the Himachal Pradesh education department. After 2-3 months, their parents felt relieved that their children’s education was proceeding unhindered. In fact, we began conducting e-PTMs (Parent-Teacher’s Meetings) to remain in touch with them.
I also took the help of the Vedantu and BYJU’s app, and Navachar Siksha to take online classes and routinely offered them mock tests and written assignments. In order to help them remain motivated, my school engaged them in several interesting activities, like painting, singing, weaving, puppet-making, etc. I felt that my children performed all these tasks with a lot of interest.
My school’s headmistress and many of my colleagues helped me immensely. At the same time, all my students had also been very cooperative. Together we celebrated many events by staying at home, including the Women’s Day, World Environment Day, National Science Day, and all other important days.
Around October 2020, when the lockdown was eased, I assembled my village students on the roadsides near their homes and taught them in small groups of 3-4. I distributed COVID notices and guidelines to them and educated them about the precautions they needed to take. During this time, I upgraded to the Zoom and Google Meet apps and connected with more children.
In 2021, as the corona outrage spread once again, we went back to the online format. We also decided to conduct online exams for class 10th and prepared their results likewise. By now, we all had got used to this medium. As a Science teacher, I directed my students to conduct some experiments even while staying at home, like the carbohydrate test using iodine, the turmeric test, sprouting moong, collecting diverse leaves and flowers, and many more.
I also learnt a lot during this time. I would like to thank the education departments of the state of Himachal Pradesh and Solan district for all their cooperation and support.