IN the wake of the closure of schools, teachers received a lot of flak for leaving learning gaps as parents have not had a chance to see the assessment reports after examinations, as they would in a regular year.

Schools have been accused of charging fees and not completing the work and assessments according to the parents expectations. These are exceptional circumstances and teachers have arguably worked tremendously hard to bridge their students' learning gaps.

Many schools have successfully navigated the roadblocks by working closely with the parents and maintaining a communication loop with them. The recourse that seems to be working for many teachers is research, resilience, resolve and reflections.

What have some schools done to keep parents and students content, retain their students numbers and continue to engage and pay their teachers? 

A Large part of it has to do with rising with the tide. Researching available resources and material, demonstrating willingness to upgrade skills and consistent analysis of teaching and learning has been necessary to ensure that our work and skills are relevant to the times.

Rather than struggling to keep afloat with what we already know and resisting the force of change, we could perhaps dive deep into research to find resources that can help with refining the parameters of our knowledge and expertise. The third 'R' in this strategy is equally significant as teachers have had to show great resolve against much scrutiny and criticism.

Whether we do this consciously with a pen and paper in a nicely lit study or make it a consistent train of thought as we go through the day, we need an action plan that unfolds systematically through our work hours.

This would mean asking questions repeatedly and in different ways : what needs to be done and how? Have I found the most efficient way of doing it ? Have I upgraded my skills to match the requirements and are they relevant to the needs of my students?

As we roll out our action plan, a massive load of problem-solving may descend in unpredictable times when it  is particularly difficult to evaluate the outcome of our efforts, and we find ourselves firefighting as circumstances change faster than we can cope.

Many parents have been accusing schools of changing their decisions at the drop of a hat - the truth is, decisions have been contingent upon unprecedented circumstances and not responding to them would have been disastrous on many fronts.

Now that the academic year has almost ended, it may be a good time to 'reflect' on what has worked and what can be done better in terms of serving the interests of the students.

It is quite clear that simulating the face-to-face teaching experience is not yielding results. Online education is a different ball game altogether.

No one has a crystal ball to see how the situation will pan out and how soon schools may be able to return to a face-to-face or hybrid reality.

The publishing continues to part 2. The World Students Society thanks author Neda Mulji, senior manager, professional development, Oxford University Press.


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