What’s Going on Inside Online Classrooms

I pity the poor teachers thrown into uncharted waters

Image by Manfred Steger from Pixabay

Tiny Corona came along and shut everyone inside their homes. Kids were super happy for some time since there was no hope of going to school.

But then, the schools woke up from their shock and readied for battle.

You can lock us down, Corona, but you can’t prevent us from torturing students with homework! — they said!

Some of the teachers probably hadn’t touched a laptop in their life and now had to suddenly learn how to log in, how to set up Zoom calls, and also, how to hold a very difficult audience enthralled while they taught.

The Teacher Exits the Class

As teachers continue to grapple with technology, students are having the time of their lives. For once, they are in better control than the teachers. They know a thing or two about video calls and technology in general. So the poor teachers are actually at the mercy of these evil students. Especially those wicked teenagers…

One day, the teen at home burst out of her room where she takes her online classes. It was a bit earlier than the class end time. So I was concerned about why she was out. Was she bunking online classes???

She was hysterical with laughter and couldn’t stop for long enough to explain. I waited until she calmed down.

Apparently the poor teacher was struggling with some audio issues, and one of the boys told her to press a certain button. Helpful boy. He had pointed her to the End Meeting button. The poor teacher was so hassled as it is that she probably didn’t stop to process the information.

She pressed that button, and the class ended!

Harassed by Parents

Online classes have given parents a completely new gateway to freedom. They can now attend classes along with their kids! If allowed, some of these parents may not be above writing the exams for their kids!

A lot of parents are now gaining access to classrooms as a fundamental right. I suppose schools must wisen up and write rules like “Parents are not allowed to be present within a 5-meter range of the video call during class hours ” or some such.

Since such rules are not yet formulated, parents are taking it upon themselves to evaluate the hapless teachers during class hours.

Teachers are now being watched, recorded as they teach, and reviews are being posted in various forums.

I suppose it is ok to state that teachers are feeling violated. They were not ready for this. They did not sign up for this. Sure, we must change with the times and all that. But we must also give people a reasonable amount of time to change with the times.

Suddenly teachers find themselves being coached on teaching by untrained and inexperienced parents. Crazy!

And mind you, these parents have the huge and unlimited experience of coaching one child, or a maximum of two children for about 2 hours in a day. Contrast that with these teachers who have coached and molded children for hours and years.

Audio-Visual Issues

A friend recounted this story about her son’s class. Her son was hopping up and down with excitement one day. A little investigation revealed that the teacher was not able to hear what the students were saying. Or that’s what she claimed.

The all-knowing tech-savvy students were hurling suggestions at her. Talking together. Maybe that’s what she meant by saying she could not hear. Maybe she meant she could not understand when everyone shouted together. Not every teacher is an expert in the English language and its vagaries.

At one point, it got so hilarious. The students were shouting, “Ma’am can you hear us”? And she shouted back, “No, I can’t hear you”.

That was quite the conundrum. If she can’t hear them, how can she possibly reply so clearly to their question?

That set them all off, and the students were having a hearty laugh party while the teacher battled the audio issues.

Ma’am Network Is Not Working

Bandwidth, connectivity, or network issues are the worst. Kids can give these excuses and get away with anything.

I keep hearing stories about how some kids cry that they have network issues, are unable to connect, and then chat with other classmates via their cell phones. Mischievous things!

And there was this meme that was floating about. A kid had named himself as Reconnecting. Every time the teacher checked, he appeared to be ‘reconnecting’. He was having his moment of fame behind her back!

With or Without Video

Different teachers deal with videos differently. Some teachers insist that the kids have their videos on at all times. Others are ok with the video being off as long as the kids switch on the video when asked to.

Regardless, teachers need to have their videos on at all times. I pity them. While kids have options, teachers have no option but to keep their videos on. Given that some of them are still figuring out online teaching methods, new tools, and what not, grappling with a video camera is the least of their priorities.

Result? Again, a comedy show for the kids. Upside-down videos, staring at the fan in the teacher’s house, a dog in place of the teacher, a sudden unwanted and deep view of the teacher’s nose, all these and more keep the kids regaled during these strange times.

The unfortunate teacher continues to provide much entertainment without her knowledge!

Technology Tantrums

Since the shift from regular to online classes had to be done urgently, a lot of infrastructure is still not in place. Tools have been cobbled together in a hurry, and decisions have been made ad hoc, or so it seems.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Some of the tools being used for assignments and other communication come with their own mood swings. This is again a great way for kids to manipulate teachers.

Kids claim they are unable to see the assignment on the virtual platform. Some of them claim they have completed the assignments but are unable to upload.

While the tool does cause these issues, some kids are smart enough to use it to their advantage!

Some of the tales I hear are so sad that I truly feel for the teachers who have now lost all semblance of control. It was bad enough to handle a bunch of attitude-filled super-smart teens in class. This new online world is just adding more challenges for the unprepared teachers.

Things Will Eventually Settle Down

As is the case with any major change, online classes are going through the phases of forming-storming-norming-performing. Teachers and students will need to equally adapt to a new way of learning.

It is not all rosy for the students either. It will take time for them to understand and make peace with the new way.

Meanwhile, teachers are being trolled big time and have become the subject of so many memes. I hope they have it in their hearts to laugh at themselves, learn quickly, and move on to face the brave new world!

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