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Teachers’ Day

Was the pandemic the greatest guru? Principals share their take

Patience, adaptation, value for life and time are some of the lessons teachers learnt

Jaismita Alexander | Published 05.09.22, 08:34 PM
Representational image

Representational image


The pandemic and online classes changed the very concept of education. While students missed school and had to adjust to a new system of learning, teachers, too, had to unlearn and relearn to give their best to pupils in the virtual classroom.On Teachers' Day, My Kolkata asked some school principals what the pandemic taught them and this is what they had to say:

Devi Kar, director, Modern High School for Girls

Technology was explored afresh and people picked up amazing skills. People bonded across cities, countries and even continents. While companies discovered that they could do away with expensive office space, employees discovered the pleasures of working from their homes. While tech companies were earning enhanced revenues, several other companies were folding up. People became innovative, resourceful and creative in their confined spaces. But the pandemic did much more harm than good – certainly from the educational perspective.The pandemic forced us to become more tech-dependent. I don’t believe that “It was the greatest teacher”. It will take years of research to realise how much learning we gained or lost during the pandemic. My guess is that we lost a huge deal.


Teachers can see the "regression" in our students – physically, socially, and emotionally – and we don’t know how long they will take to catch up and move on. The pandemic taught us to adapt and realise that nothing is certain or predictable, but it was a nightmare we all would like to forget as soon as possible. Far from being a ‘great teacher’, it obstructed development and destroyed old learning methods. The pandemic was merely one of the many manifestations of nature, the greatest teacher of all.

Seema Sapru, principal, The Heritage School

What is this life if, full of care,We have no time to stand and stare.

These lines from the poem Leisure by W.H. Davies are what we realised during the pandemic. It was time to watch the clear skies and stars, listen to the chirping of birds, enjoy the bond among family members, and have meals together. It was an exhilarating feeling. The concept of working from home, walking to stay fit, reading for pleasure, running day-to-day errands, playing board games, laughing for no reason and getting back to hobbies long-forgotten like dancing, painting, singing. People realised that the real enjoyment was at home living with your family. Children came closer to their parents and spouses started respecting and appreciating each other. Parents and teachers became the best of friends, appreciating the responsibilities they share as co-educators. In the bargain, teachers became better parents and parents became empowered teachers. We realised that schools were just not for academic purposes but also connecting socially making us empathetic and humane.

Rupkatha Sarkar, principal, La Martiniere for Girls School

Even as students globally felt the pangs of isolation and the loss of a real world, the pandemic taught us to value life with empathy for each other and overcome challenges with resilience. While students became self-reliant, teachers upgrade themselves with the digital skills along with active cooperation from parents and guardians.Gradually, we have learnt how to handle the post-COVID situation and we are today more patient and observant and reach out to one and all with understanding and love.There has been a paradigm shift in educational institutions, especially in schools and teachers’ roles. Teachers, in this crisis, have provided guidance to shape the young minds. Students must realise that they need more than before to collaborate, deliberate and empathise with each other. This Teachers’ Day, I extend my greetings and salute every teacher who fought like a true warrior against all odds.

Bratati Bhattacharya, secretary general and CEO, Shikshayatan Foundation

Pandemic has taught us to reflect on how we should be reimagining, restructuring our work areas with health being of utmost importance. We need to know how to protect ourselves and this should be a part of the curriculum. We have learnt the importance of the necessities of life. The pandemic has ushered in digitisation in a huge manner and people have realised that they can work from their homes thus saving a lot of energy and fuel. We also realised several modes through which knowledge can be imparted. Teachers, too, need the mindset to accept the change. We realised the need to update and be more creative and bring in more clarity in our communication. The pandemic has taught us that the world will keep changing and we have to evolve with time and change our vision and understanding.

John Bagul, founder principal, South City International School

The pandemic was a major disruption in our lives. However, to look at the positive side of the spectrum, we learnt a few tough lessons. The transformation of education has been rapid and innovative. Pre-pandemic, we were not aware of digital platforms like Zoom or Teams and Google Meet. The pandemic taught us to realise the bond between knowledge and skills. Post-pandemic, we have realised that skills are people-driven and knowledge can be acquired remotely.Following the pandemic, we have realised that life is unpredictable and we need to make the right choices as that would benefit us mentally, emotionally and physically rather than financially. Every occasion gives us a chance to learn, to adapt and evolve. Looking back at 2020, there is no doubt that we live in a VUCA world. The acronym first coined in the army is now widely applied to business and society. It describes a world that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.Having realised that change is the only constant in our lives, we have been able to set our priorities right.

Anjana Saha, senior principal, Mahadevi Birla World Academy

The pandemic has taught us to deal with the pressure-cooker syndrome. We have learnt the art of beating stress. Pandemic has taught us to embark on a soul-searching journey to realise our inner selves. We have also understood the importance of looking inward. We have spent a lot of time searching within the reservoirs of strength. The human spirit, coupled with strength and determination, triumphed. We have learnt to leverage whatever resources we have. We have learnt to upgrade ourselves technically. The pandemic has been a guru like no other because it has taught us to adapt, strategise and steer towards a better future.We have realised the value of the air we breathe and are thankful that it is free. We have also learnt to value the gift of life.

Last updated on 05.09.22, 08:54 PM

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