Psychiatrist session for South Point teachers
A teacher who was getting logged out repeatedly from her class called up the principal, claiming online teaching was beyond her.
Another said she had a tough time keeping her children away from the room while she held online classes.
Teachers may not have to attend school but teaching has seldom been tougher. To help them cope, South Point held a stress management session for them with a psychiatrist on a video conferencing app recently.
“We have to adjust to a new way of teaching. We held a series of practice sessions, with the technologically adept ones helping out other colleagues. Yet. teachers were getting anxious,” South Point High School principal Rupa Sanyal Bhattacharjee said.
She noticed several teachers posting queries late at night or at dawn in the school WhatsApp group, indicating disruptions in their sleep patterns.
“We had to plunge into the unknown almost without notice. Add to that the pressure of household chores in the absence of domestic help,” junior school principal Dalbir Kaur Chadda said.
The concerns were conveyed to the management. “Nearly 200 teachers are teaching close to 10,000 students from Classes I-XII in 1,175 classes every week. It seems schools are not going to return to normality for quite some time,” Krishna Damani, trustee, South Point Education Society, said. “Our academic team felt we needed professional help for our teachers before the stress became too much.”
Once the registration form was put up, teachers who registered posted queries for psychiatrist Rima Mukherji, who conducted the session. “Online teaching is blurring boundaries between public and private. Students would judge how furnished the teacher’s house is. Adolescent students might make inappropriate comments on their teaching or on their person, which they would not dare in the formal set-up of a classroom,” Mukherji said.
“Also, the scope for socialising has been taken away with teachers not being able to meet each other. Many had performance-related stress, wondering whether they were being able to teach properly. I kept all these issues in mind.”
She also dealt with health-related anxiety. “What if I get Covid-19 or someone in my family does — this was another concern. Some teachers have children abroad and listening to the news on the situation there adds to their anxiety.”
Mukherji advised them to stay away from TV news, not take caffeinated drinks at least four hours before sleep, and listen to soothing music instead of staring at any screen just before going to bed. “This would improve their sleep hygiene.”
She also advised them not to lie down while doing anything. “This sends a signal of rest to the brain. Why not walk while making calls? It will give you some exercise also.” Inactivity is hampering appetites. She advised against stocking fast food. “One needs to eat healthy to build up immunity.”
People have two kinds of anxieties. “One is actionable — like rice stock depleting at home. The other is not, like the number of Covid-19 cases increasing. As for those who are getting frustrated watching others cook brilliantly, I suggested social distancing from social media,” Mukherji said.