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Right from abusing teachers to muting them or throwing them out of virtual classrooms, students, are doing it all. When will this bullying end?
The pandemic has disrupted and modified our ‘normal’ lives in all its forms. Our social interactions, economic transactions, everything has changed to a large extent. It has also seeped in and caused havoc with our education system.
The case in point that is the viral post of the 55-year-old teacher, who was unaccustomed to taking virtual class. And inspite of his best efforts, he was verbally abused and bullied by his students.
While the authenticity of this particular story is still unclear, the issues that teachers face are often true. (The viral Instagram post was copied from a post shared by a Facebook user where he claimed it was a fictional story. Here are the details of the original story posted by AltNews and by Opera News)
Though this may have been one fictitious incident, the rest of the incidents in this article are true. And these cases are merely the tip of the iceberg. Every day, teachers are being bullied by students and parents alike during online classes.
It’s heartbreaking to read about this kind of behaviour meted out to the teachers. May I refresh your memory, to what happened to Arooj M. V or the ‘Blue Saree Teacher,’ roughly a month back?
The video appears on the KITE Victers Channel, the online medium used by the Kerala Schools. In it, English Teachers Arooj M.V. and Rathi. S. Nair can be seen enthusiastically welcoming and introducing the students to the syllabus.
Arooj and Rathi dressed as per the institutional dress code, appear as confident teachers, brimming with enthusiasm for the new year. They are ready to tackle the challenge of online teaching.
However, trolls on the internet took this as an opportunity to objectify and sexualise Arooj. Her pictures were used to make memes, a lot of which were lewd in nature. And in less than a day of the video being put up, there were around fifty Instagram ‘fan’ accounts. Even today, a casual search on Google under the title ‘Blue Saree Teacher,’ throws up links to obscene websites.
Teachers are subject to scrutiny now more than ever. With the convenience of classes going online and the possibility of attending class by just clicking a link, it is not uncommon to see people gatecrashing online classes.
Last month, The Times Of India reported a case in St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. The college suspended three class XII students for sharing their ID and password with outsiders, who disrupted the class by posting spam.
Relatives of the students too have taken a sudden interest in their online education. They are often found gatecrashing a class, just to see how the teacher looks or on the excuse that they need to see how s/he teaches.
Under the pretext of minding their children, some parents too, attend the online classes. They also try and intimidate the teachers, recounts a teacher from a reputed international school in Mumbai.
As if attending the classes was not enough, some parents even go to the extent of asking questions to the teachers, themselves or via their children. A teacher from a State Board school says, the parents do this in order to test the teachers’ knowledge.
The students themselves are no less. They go on to make memes of the teachers and their so-called ‘catch phrases’ like ‘Can you hear me?” ‘Did you understand?” Thus turning them into a laughing stock, an SSC teacher confides on the condition of anonymity. She even recounted how some went a step ahead and played music during the class, forcing her to end the meeting and begin a new one.
Another teacher narrated how the students ranted about her online teaching. They did so in their private chats but one of the messages was sent to everyone in the online class, instead of being addressed to the intended receiver.
The students profit from the anonymity that online teaching offers them, to indulge in all types of mischievous actions. Ranging from changing their profile names to ‘Connecting…’ right upto muting the teacher during the class they do it all.
A counterpart from another international school recounts, how her colleague was harassed by the students. The pupils disliked the teacher and collectively decided to make things difficult for her. For that, the following day, the entire class pretended that they could not hear the teacher.
They asked her to leave the meeting and join again, and kept repeating the cycle of actions for the duration of the entire lecture. One can only imagine the plight of the poor teacher who unknowingly became the victim of a collective ploy.
Online education via Zoom, GoogleMeet, Skype and other platforms is a whole new way of learning and teaching for the students as well as the teachers. While some schools and colleges, provided and continue to provide hands on training and support to their faculty, not all can claim the same.
A Senior teacher on the verge of retirement in a government school in Mumbai said, “Had I not had technological support at home, with my children helping me, I would have probably tendered my resignation within a week of school reopening.”
For teachers who have spent a major chunk of their lives in front of students, with a chalk and the blackboard as their only tools, the new ‘normal’ is frightening.
Every teacher, young or old, is trying their best to keep their students engaged and interested in the best way they can. With the pandemic, everyone is standing on unfamiliar ground and the path ahead is hazy at best.
The learning curve to online education is a steep one and empathy is the need of the hour. As with technology in any form smartphone, computer, email, it takes a while to figure out the workings of the online platform recommended by the institution. It is important to remember just as each student learns at different pace, so do their teachers.
Picture credits: Pexels
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French Teacher by day, Anusha can be found reading books, blogging, gardening or searching for
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