This article was written by Mamta Saikia, Chief Executive Officer of Bharti Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Bharti Enterprises and published in association with BloombergQuint Brand Studio.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been in contact with primary school students, from primary to higher education, to understand what they are going through right now. While most are happy to be back at school, a few are concerned too. The youngest pupils, especially those who have spent more school months at home than at school, need time to adjust to the school environment. As any teacher would attest, the situation in classrooms today is much more complex than it was before the pandemic, with students out of school for nearly two years.

The ability of students to sit in the classroom from one period to the next throughout the day, to concentrate, and more importantly, the habit of coming to school every day are some of the challenges faced by teachers. , coupled with the state of young people’s minds because of their experiences during Covid. I also listened to teachers. There is ample evidence and understanding about the learning loss that has occurred and bridging the gap will be difficult due to the myriad of problems faced by students and teachers in the classroom.

As we shift our focus to rural India and students belonging to disadvantaged groups, both the learning loss and the overall impact of Covid are many. It starts with access to smartphones, or rather the lack of them. There are studies that show that the number of students who have access to a smartphone increases over time. In reality, however, siblings from one family share a single smartphone, based on which of them might miss a class so that another could attend a more important class. In most poorer households, students attend classes when the father makes his smartphone available to them. They do not have uninterrupted access to smartphones and also face internet/data issues. On the other hand, it was an arduous task for teachers to ensure that their students remain involved in education during school closures.

The fact is today that when students return to school, we simply cannot go back to traditional teaching and learning processes. A lot has changed and we need to rebuild our classroom strategies taking into account the way things have evolved.

Three aspects of education have fundamentally changed in the past two years:

1. First, the adoption of technology. During school closures, students, parents and teachers have used technology to access education at different scales. The devices, apps, and strategies differed as one moved from town to another, but technology in one form or another made a substantial breakthrough in education. Today, everyone is more open to the role technology can play in education. And now is the right time to innovatively integrate technology into our education.

2. Next comes the role that parents have played in their child’s education, regardless of their own educational status. Whether they arrange for their child to attend virtual classes or go to common areas where physical classes are conducted or ensure that assignments sent by teachers are completed by children, most teachers will tell you that parents have been in regular contact with them lately. have had them for two years. Parent involvement at this level has never been achieved before. This could be a game changer to help students make up for lost months of schooling more quickly. And a little school should stay at home and in common areas so that the parents continue to participate in the education.

3. Perhaps the most important aspect is the freedom of choice that many children have been given. Virtual studies and activities delivered through instant messaging apps have empowered children to take on their educational responsibilities. Encouraged by parents or teachers, many students helped their siblings or friends with their studies. Whether through independent learning, peer learning or collaborations within families or friends, it has given students a sense of empowerment. When they are back in school, we need to build on this aspect to bridge the learning loss faster. Teachers should use innovative teaching methods to give students the space they need to explore teaching, rather than turning back the clock to chalk and talk. Peer learning, flip learning and project-based learning should become as integral as technology in the classroom, enabling students to become partners in their own learning journey.

These three fundamental shifts can greatly support teachers in dealing with the complex and challenging situations in their classrooms. Technology allows the user as well as controls to explore and learn at his/her pace. Teachers should be trained to use technology to empower their teaching, not only by using it in the classroom, but also by working with parents to ensure that technology remains a child’s companion on his/her journey to learn and catch up. Especially in rural India, smartphones and TVs can play an important role here. Our definition of learning spaces should be extended to include both homes and common areas. Teachers need guidance on how to work with parents, who themselves may be at different levels of literacy. Parents have played an anchoring role for over two years and we must ensure that parental guidance and involvement continues to exist.

Over the next two to three years, the focus should be on bridging the learning gap; evaluations should support recovery action planning with the acceptance that change will not happen overnight. Our best approach would be not to abandon the three major changes Covid has made to education and prepare our teachers to put these changes to good use, as the situation we face in classrooms today is much more difficult and complex. is than ever before.

This post Bharti Foundation: Changing Classroom Paradigms After Covid

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