The Struggle of Teachers In Pandemic
The pandemic has had students and teachers move away from the four walls of the classroom to an online space involving face-to-face interaction through digital means. It is an undeniable fact that this overnight displacement from classrooms to online fora comes with a lot of obstacles, especially for those teachers who aren’t as technologically equipped as their students. Moreover, institutions pressure teachers into posing as an epitome of perfection; and don’t quite tolerate miscalculations on their part. Since there are different generations of teachers who are currently teaching in institutions, you cannot assume that they will quickly grasp or adapt to the online method. It’s mentally distressing for a teacher who’s already concerned about the incomplete syllabus to expeditiously comprehend the online education system.
Along with all this, there comes one major and common problem that teachers have faced – Online Harassment. Lately, teachers have been subjected to online harassment by students on platforms where they conduct classes. Some students have a casual outlook towards online classes and think that they now possess a degree of freedom through which they can harass their educators. This harassment is usually in the form of slurs, random yelling, and the use of inappropriate language in class. Students often tend to overlook the impact of such misbehavior on the teacher’s psychological well-being. In a recent incident, Ms. Arooja Denny, an English teacher from Kerala, went viral after she was put through unbearable trolling on social media. On 1st June , schools in Kerala commenced with classes for students through online media, and the KITE Victers Channel. Ms. Arooja was the first teacher amongst everybody else to lead an online class. She was all geared – up for the online sessions but wasn’t ready for the merciless trolling. Her lectures went viral and people across social media referred to her as the “blue sari teacher”. There were a lot of memes that started circulating along with photographs of her from the lecture. Many of the memes consisted of abusive and sexual undertones as well.
Incidents like these are the main reason as to why schools should enlighten students, while also having workshops for teachers where they can give feedback and communicate in a transparent manner. Students must be made aware that their frolicking behaviour can have dire consequences. Another issue that teachers face on online teaching platforms is that of Limited Accountability. Online teaching serves as a barrier to the teacher-student relationship. Hence, students do not feel as answerable to their teacher anymore. They often mute their mics or ignore questions posed by their teachers. As a result, the teacher may start feeling neglected and embarrassed. This can also be detrimental to the teacher’s personal life. Issues such as lack of self- esteem, confidence and anxiety can possibly arise among the teachers, who put in so much work to deliver online learning. Therefore, as students, or even normally, we should be watchful of our words because they carry different meanings for different people and can make a major impact on someone’s life.
Learning institutions must publish guidelines that aid teachers in taking action if they are subjected to any kind of abuse online. A code of conduct helps safeguard the rights of the teacher while at the same time ensuring that pupils acknowledge the serious consequences of their unlawful actions. An example of this kind of a guide is that of York University, which assists the staff and faculty members in comprehending when workplace harassment protections apply, where those protections are codified, what type of harassment is at issue, and where to go for recourse.
That’s not it; all of this is also accompanied by the teacher’s exposure to Excessive Screen Time. The screen time is usually higher for teachers, as they are the ones compiling all the online work, framing it as well as checking their student’s work online. Staying on-screen for extended hours can cause eye strain, neck pain and shoulder aches. Schools must incorporate breaks of 10-15 minutes between online classes, to give a breather to teachers as well as the students. The introduction of physical fitness classes for teachers will also be beneficial, considering that overworked teachers might not have as much time to look after their health.
Ultimately, we as students should be conscious of our actions and keep in mind that teachers are not machines; they cannot be perfect and are allowed to make mistakes as well. At this phase of time, even teachers are learning with us. With that in mind, the student community ought to provide the required assistance instead of bashing them or making fun of their incompetencies. It’ll also establish a healthy student-teacher relationship, and as we know, respect is a two-way thing.
By - Shriya Bhatt Graphic by - Gayathri Nair