The devastating effects of the current COVID-19 situation in the country has engulfed everyone. Teachers have faced this wrath too. From looking after families to conducting classes; life feels no less than a cumbersome assignment. Read on for more.
In a world where students are prioritized over all, because of their newfound agency and ability to organize and agitate in huge numbers, both in real life as well as online, teachers are often left out of the narrative. If we start delineating the complications that teachers have while dealing with online classes, the pandemic will probably be over but the worries won’t end. Students were seen cribbing about the online classes; turning the same into their mortal enemy. But what about those who don’t have an option? Who sustains themselves through the same university that doesn’t care for them? What about teachers who can’t “opt out” from classes and have no respite?
While the students had to face many issues in the process of coping up with the online mode, teachers had their fair share too. They had to go from purely human to human interaction to an interaction of faceless strangers, teaching classes of freshers they have never met. Teachers kept teaching without being able to comprehend whether anyone was listening or not. On top of that, most of the teachers had to learn the A-Zs of technology which was a cakewalk for us. Learning is a gradual process; be it academic or technical. However, the teachers made sure that they learnt the functioning of the latter for their students. The traumatic eyesores, never-ending back pain, severe headaches; teachers had to go through the same as well. In addition to the above, most of the teachers had to look after their personal commitments and lives. It seems that the horrendous experiences of 2020 was not enough with 2021 putting forward the second wave of the pandemic.
I remember I didn’t even know how to use WhatsApp earlier. But, the pandemic compelled me to learn and see, now I’m a master in it! We had to change for the need of the drastic times to be in contact with our students as much as possible.” – says one of the Professors.
Shortly before the second wave hit India, and incited widespread panic in the country leading to lockdown in many states, the teachers were asked to come back to campus and teach, opening up a Pandora’s box of issues and worries. Many teachers who did not have help at home had to leave to teach on campus, despite being wary of the situation with regards to the pandemic. After many months of teaching at home, and acclimatizing themselves to the new normal, they had to leave their teaching arrangements and were forced back into the classrooms. But this wasn’t the happy reunion that it seems like. College campuses had bad internet connectivity, central to the efficacy of online learning, and teachers had to cluster in close areas to access the internet so that they could take classes. They had to teach with cameras off and glitchy audios, risking their health and their lives to teach in common areas, leaving behind their families and homes during the pandemic.
A professor reveals , “Many of my colleagues have been affected by Covid. I was myself affected last year but the weakness persists, hindering my ability to take classes and furthermore, travel to campus every day. I know of teachers who are in a constant state of anxiety and have even faced accidents due to these pressures and mental strains. It is very difficult for us as it is to take classes online, staring into blank screens, speaking to walls. Things do not seem to be getting better. I am only myself when I am immersed in my coursework, my only happiness comes from seeing students’ faces when I see them digitally. ”
The upsurge in the COVID-19 cases across the country especially in the capital city of Delhi is of grave concern. The University of Delhi (DU) administration needs to understand the fact that teachers are humans as well with families, emotions and health. In these tough times, taking classes shouldn’t be made a duty rather it must be a choice. Many teachers have to take leaves which impacts their work life. However, the choice must come with certain conditions such as evidence of medical/family problems, etcetera. The show of education must go on, but not at the cost of the director’s ( read : teachers) life.
Most of my family members are down with the virus. I’m in the constant fear that I might be next. I have to look after them and I’m missing out on my classes. It’s tiring to go and ask for leaves, again and again. The main DU administration should look into the same.- says a Professor.
The administration doesn’t care about the mental health of the students anyway, but it should at least look into the mental health of the teaching staff. The latter has numerous roles to play in their lives; from fathers/mothers to teachers, of course. They make the University of Delhi what it is: they are the faculty that students from all over the country flock to study from, interact with, get guidance from. If the mental health of teachers isn’t looked after, there is nothing left to say.
Featured Image Credits : Wall Street Journal