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With no virtual classroom, how are teachers dealing with the “New Norm”?.

Posted by Letswalo M Community Manager on 25 June 2020 2:40 PM CAT
Letswalo M Community Manager photo

 

As I write this, it’s almost three months since the introduction of the nationwide lockdown. Although many restrictions have been eased by the government, and grades 7and 12 have slowly returned to physical classrooms, for some students, classes are yet to return to normal.

 

Sadly for some students lessons paused since the introduction of the lockdown and the lack of technology continues to restrict them from their lessons.

 

COVID-19 has disrupted lessons for both teachers and students. Teachers find themselves cornered. The pandemic has demanded all educators around the world to continue with classes in the virtual classroom. Teachers in South Africa, however, that must be a daunting challenge, when many students do not have access to the virtual classroom. 

We can all agree that social distancing is needed to flatten the curve of the pandemic, but teachers find themselves in a difficult situation. How do they continue with lessons when students don't have access to the virtual classroom? The government has promised students material to help them continue with their lessons but it's almost three months now and many are yet to receive any form of support. 

 

It’s important to note that this is only for higher education. Those learners at the various levels below that, have zero indication of support. Such issues can play an adverse role on the teacher’s mental health.

 

Many teachers have no experience when it comes to teaching online, and while it may seem simple to many, research shows that certain skills are needed. This is where online communities can play a supportive role. Teachers rely heavily on peer support and peer-to-peer learning. Within this new normal, there will be those who have experience and those that are struggling. Collaboration and knowledge sharing will be a vital component of a teacher’s daily life. 

Collaboration however is not limited to peer engagement. It can work across the education ecosystem, distancing ourselves does not mean that connection and collaboration come to an end.  We need to work together to ensure that our economy improves and young people are not left behind in their academic year. 

COVID-19 has created a new “norm” for everyone. There is the challenge of learning, the challenge of nutrition and regular meals, and many other challenges. educators can create  collaborative ecosystems that not only support students' lessons but also the essential needs that some students may need during these trying times. 

A new report from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy lays out three scenarios for how the coronavirus pandemic will progress in the coming months. Using the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic as a model, experts suggested the COVID-19 outbreak will last between 18 to 24 months. The pandemic "likely won't be halted until 60% to 70% of the population is immune".

While writing this blog questions keep jumping into my mind. What happens to the academic year for students who don’t have access to the online classroom? What does the future look like for students in the rural areas? Who will help them?

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