The Solitary Teacher
A thousand definitions, innumerable quotes, but what best describes leadership is a “situation and the response to it. “History is testimony to the fact that most trying times have seen leaders emerge out of them.”
The year 2020 is witness to this kind of a situation; schools closed, students but schooling did not. It evolved into a whole new idea of teaching and learning in virtual mode. It was not a smooth sail, but neither impossible. Technology invaded the lives of the Teacher and the Taught. The hands that held a textbook, chalk and duster were now holding the mouse and a digitalized book. A screen became a classroom and conversation flowed on a microphone.
Well, that was a short visual of how schools adapted to the online mode, but what was required here was the understanding of the depth and chartering a new course of action. It required unlearning and accepting the new.
- Teachers to understand technology, adapt, adopt and deliver the lessons
- Students to accept the new normal and learn in isolation, without friends or teachers
- Parents to actively participate in learning and support their children
- Society to know and respect the teaching community for rising to the occasion and not failing in execution of their duty.
- From a physical environment of desk and bench to the cozy comfort of a home, of family becoming friends and the screen becoming their playground and classroom for the children
- From depending on a text book to diving into the vast expanse of the internet to explore and find new ways to engage the child for the teachers
- From knowing that the school was responsible for keeping the children for half a day, to coming to terms with having the kids around the entire day
- A complete revolution of Learning and Teaching from ‘face to face’ to ‘screen to screen’The Good• There seemed to be more time for the child to explore and learn
- There seemed to be a realization that skills essential for living (household chores, carpentry, fixing leaks and short circuits) were much needed and there was time
- Family time was regained and cherished
- Time for self was gained
- Children could be affected by digital fatigue over a period of time
- Teachers may struggle to develop emotional connect with children
Over the entire course, School Leadership acquired a new mantle and the responsibility of getting together all the stake holders to give education a new meaning. The pandemic brought forth opportunities that were dormant and made children understand their own potential in a most reflective and introspective manner.
I wish to share a poem which sums the state we are in now, but there is much beyond it too. I am sure all my fellow English teachers will relate to this
This is the time of online classes. As I wrapped up my class today and sat alone in the classroom, I was struck by melancholy. ‘The Solitary Teacher’ I thought, and that brought to mind, the famous poem-” The Solitary Reaper” by William Wordsworth. I penned down my thoughts along the lines of my favourite poem by the nature poet.
The Solitary Teacher
Behold her, single in the class,
Yon solitary Manipal lass!
Speaking and explaining by herself;
On pressure, volume, energy and mass.
Alone she lectures and asks a question,
nd derives a lengthy equation;
O listen! for the room around
Is overflowing with her sound.
Does anyone know what she says?
Perhaps theorems of some scientist bygone;
Boltzmann, Einstein or Planck’s essays
All masters from an era long gone.
Or is it some more wonted topic,
Pressing matters of the day?
Sharing concerns of this pandemic;
That has taken many a prey.
Whatever the topic, the teacher spoke
As if her discourse would have no ending;
You see her “online” at work,
And o’er the laptop, bending.
They listened faceless, far away;
As they logged off, she calls it a day.
Their faces in her heart she bore,
Long after their voices were heard no more.
We all are together in this battle that came upon us, to teach what we ignored.
To feel what we missed, to hear what fell on deaf ears, and to create a generation of more Humane and Humble beings!
Ms. Bharathi Lakshmi
Hindustan International School