From the white board to the screen, an earpod plugged into one ear to hear the students online and waiving an arm to signal to a student in class, teachers juggled between online and offline on the first day of ‘hybrid’ classes.
In-person classes resumed on Tuesday and teachers saw students who looked quizzical, apprehensive and sometimes also fidgety sitting in their chairs.
Metro spoke to teachers across schools who shared their experiences and the challenges they encountered in a classroom they commanded with aplomb not so long ago.
An ear for each group
In several schools, teachers used earpods to take classes so that they could attend to both sets of students — in the classroom and those attending online from home — simultaneously.
“Some teachers had one earpod plugged in for the online students. For those in class, we heard them without the earplug,” said math teacher Chandan Chatterjee.
If a student sitting in front of them asked a question while they were listening to a student online, the teacher signalled with their hand asking the student to wait.
“We had to be very attentive. It will take some time to get used to this system,” said a teacher who did not wish to be named.
Teachers had to concentrate on both groups of students simultaneously, which was not easy, some of them said.
“When it is a hybrid class, it is difficult to give the same level of importance to both groups of students. Automatically, the focus will be on the ones in front. It will take some time for teachers to be able to do justice to both groups,” said Basanti Biswas, the principal of Calcutta Girls’ High School.
A teacher in a city school who used the blackboard extensively on Tuesday kept asking his students online whether they could see the board and follow the lesson.
“I was trying to look at the students on the screen also because they are away from school and they should not feel left out,” the teacher said.
A teacher takes a hybrid (online and offline) class at La Martiniere for Boys on Tuesday when the higher classes resumed onsite studies in several schools in Bengal after the pandemic-induced closure that stretched for more than a year.
When teachers address a class, they always want more students in front of them, which was lacking on several campuses on Tuesday.
“When there are fewer children, teachers feel demotivated. Despite having a few students in class, we could not merge sections because that would increase the number manifold in an online class,” said Satabdi Bhattacharjee, the principal of The Newtown School.
The children’s faces were covered in masks and their expressions were not comprehensible, many teachers said.
“We could see only a bit of their faces and from what was visible, it was as if they were quizzical about us and trying to gauge us,” said a teacher.
Koeli Dey, the principal of Sushila Birla Girls’ School, said students were trying to “absorb” and take in what they saw around them. There was a difference in their behaviour, too.
“The students were much quieter, sitting silently at their desks,” said Suprabhat Chakraborty, the head of the department of physics at Delhi Public School Ruby Park.
Pictures by Bishwarup Dutta and Sanat Kr Sinha