Teachnig must adapt to the new normal

Teacher, Take your Seat!

Surely, the term ‘adaptability quotient’ has to be today’s catch-phrase when thinking about education.

Whether we have taught under a tree or without resources, teachers, together with learners, have had to adapt radically. This applies both to those who teach because they are called to do so, and to those who go through the motions for the sake of a pay cheque.

Often I hear of teachers who tell learners that their education is not wholly dependent on a teacher teaching within the four walls of a classroom and that learners can and should take individual responsibility for their learning, especially in the higher grades. In this respect the COVID-19 pandemic has moved things forward, by quite literally forcing learning and teaching to move out of the classroom.

Online teaching has given new meaning to the term ‘adaptability quotient’. Lesson plans have had to be changed, ways of teaching have had to be modified and the pastoral care of learners has become ever more imperative.

Teachers have had to ‘take their seats’ and listen – they have had to reinvent themselves in order for education to be effective. Pandemic or not, learners still need full preparation and the necessary qualifications to apply to tertiary institutions. So the quality of the education being administered in schools could not be compromised and COVID-19 could not be used as an excuse to cut corners.

Teachers must reinvent themselves

An era of unprecedented scrutiny

Teachers who were not technologically literate faced a real struggle during the pandemic. Those teachers who previously had expected students to learn by pointing them in the direction of a page in a textbook, found themselves exposed to parents and school management. Even though for teachers it has been an era of unprecedented scrutiny, the value of teachers in a physical classroom will never again be underestimated – mostly by parents! Many teachers simply took their seats in front of a screen and proceeded to do what they do best – TEACH.

However, for teachers and learners who did not have access to data, cell phones, tablets or laptops, content coverage was a serious issue. When learners could return to the classroom, there was a scramble to complete the syllabus so that the learners could be assessed properly. It also became clear that not all subjects could be taught with clarity whilst learners were online. Imagine for one minute, a Grade 1 teacher (the miracle-worker), trying to teach a learner how to hold a pencil – ONLINE!

Online assessments became an integral part of online teaching. This, surely, had to be a sharp learning curve for most teachers. The setting of online examinations, the marking of these assessments and the forwarding of scripts back to the school was no easy task. Teachers had to learn to trust the parents of learners, since assessments were written at home.

Who would have thought that education would take this format?

Since teachers are ‘in loco parentis’, the pastoral care of a child remained paramount. Does a learner look sad? Is the learner actually ‘in class’? What about homework? Teachers and parents had to partner like never before.

What now? What have we learnt? Life-long learning is second-nature to most teachers. We learn from each other and since humanity has faced a common enemy, there has been a certain degree of uniting of teachers worldwide. Teachers really have learnt to see the worth of face-to-face teaching.

Teachers have taken their seats … to teach.