Tuesday 24 November, 2020

12 things teachers can't do in virtual classrooms during COVID-19

Physical classroom in a primary school (FILE)

Physical classroom in a primary school (FILE)

Students are learning from home behind the computer, tablet or phone screen and this has really put a spoke in the wheel of some teachers.

The world has changed due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the delivery of education was hugely impacted.

Now as students get their knowledge in Google classrooms, through Zoom Meetings or by meeting up on Teams, teachers can't say or do certain things anymore. They've lost some of their resources and even "superpowers".

Who would have thought that in 2020, Loop Lifestyle would be doing a Flashback Friday to the days when teaching and learning actually happened in a physical classroom?

Here are 12 things that teachers can't do or say in the virtual classroom:

1. Lashes*

In schools where teachers can still "share lashes," this punishment is off the table in virtual classes.

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2. Cleaning the blackboard/whiteboard

Asking a child to clean the board between topics and lessons is no more.

3. Handing out assignments

No longer can teachers pick a student and ask him or her to walk around and give them out to their peers.

4. Favours

Mini maids are out till later. What do we mean? No more asking a child to go buy a snack or drink for them. Like students, teachers are walking to the kitchen at break time.

5. Messengers

"Go to Ms Jones and tell her than I need to borrow her red book. She will know what I mean. What are you going to ask Ms Jones?"

6. 'The Attention Desk'

No longer can the teacher put the class clown or troublemaker to sit beside the teacher's desk during class time as a means of helping him or her pay attention.

7. Separating chatterboxes

With students messaging all day on their phones or in the chatbox during class time, teachers can't stop the communication anymore by "spacing out" the talkative pair or group.

8. The Look

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Using the look to get a child to sit up or keep quiet has gone out the window. With 12 faces on a screen and a class of 20-plus students, Sir or Ma'am who are you reeeeeeally looking at like that now?

9. Peer Assessment

Teacher: "Give the person to your left your book and take the book from the person to your right."

Dashawn: "Sir, I next to the wall. Nobody to my left. What to do Sir? Who to give my book to?"

Malika: "Sir I cyan onstan wuh he write"

Rashira: "Sir she ain't do de homework. I ain't got nuttin tuh correct!"

Teacher: Okay, okay, one second, one child at a time.

Teachers must be missing these kinds of questions, outbursts and scenarios that only they can solve. Remember we talked about superpowers?

10. Charts and teaching aids

Those teachers who take the time in the last weeks of vacation to go to the school and "tattoo" their classrooms with charts, pictures, clocks, and decorations, in general, must surely be missing the ability to say: "Look on this wall. Read everybody. A capital letter is BIG, while a common letter is small."

11. Stickers

Teachers are no longer motivating students by marking their work and putting a star or 'Good job' sticker on the assignment before returning them. Praise is more instantaneous in the virtual class. So though teachers may be missing using a red pen to tick or 'x' answers and give stickers, today it is a lot more: "Unmute your mic and answer. Good job... Great answer... Well done... I need you to do more practice... You are coming along nicely... Good improvement... Now mute your mic."

12. Gifts

Some teachers were lucky to have some Earth Angels in their classes. Whether it was on their own or because their parents motivated them, some teachers used to get small tokens of appreciation and cheerful notes throughout the academic year. Some teachers used to find flowers picked on the way to school on their desk, be offered snacks at lunch, get a drink from the machine or hear a lot of "My mummy sent this for you".

Some teachers are really missing reading those notes that would get tucked under their registers, the ones that used to say: 'You are the best teacher ever'. 


Editor's Note* - This list was compiled after consulting with Caribbean teachers, not just teachers in Barbados. Corporal punishment is not banned in schools across the region, though in some only Year Heads and principals can discipline teachers in this manner. 

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