Student Mental Health during the Pandemic – PITSTOP 5: Interview With Mr Deepak

Next, we move on to meet Deepak.

 Deepak is currently working as an Assistant School Leader at Infant Jesus Matric Hr Sec School (IJMHSS), Kalpakkam. IJMHSS is a K-12 school catering to around 1250 children coming from over 15 villages.

1.  How was the lockdown experience?
Lockdown experience has been tough but as tough as experienced by many of our urban peers. The rural lifestyle didn’t change much leaving aside the limitations in going to places like the market. Farmers who are in the cultivation season especially have a hard time since they cannot transport their goods. There’s a huge financial crunch also everywhere

2. What are the alternative learning & teaching methods you have chosen to employ?
We have employed teaching through Google Classroom. We have deliberately chosen to avoid live teaching due to various reasons such as poor internet, lack of more than one device per family, etc. The lessons are delivered as pre-recorded bite-sized videos which can be easily followed by the students. Some videos are taken directly from sources like YouTube whereas many teachers also record their videos and share them with the students. 

We conducted a special course through Google Classroom tailored to our teachers itself. The course covered topics such as using Google Classroom, teaching through screen recording, using Kahoot, etc. This gave teachers the basic skills required to deliver their lessons to the students.

3. What are the advantages of those methods

  • Students can learn at their own pace
  • One device can be used by many students
  • Can be managed even with erratic internet connectivity
  • Comparatively lesser screen time compared to live online teaching
  • Easy for the teachers to manage their classes

4. What are the disadvantages of those methods?

  • Not much verbal interaction students and teachers
  • Families without even a single smartphone still gets left behind
  • Teachers don’t get immediate feedback in their teaching process 

5. How are the students coping up with the lockdown?

  • Many children staying in the villages are coping well since they have lots of activities to do
  • Higher secondary students are particularly vulnerable due to the uncertainties around their future

6. How are the parents coping during the lockdown?

Many parents are particularly struggling with the finances

7. Does lockdown and staying at home have positive effects or negative effects on children’s learning? Or both? If yes, then how so?

Leaving aside the learning part, in these circumstances, staying at home is positive given that the children have a congenial environment. However, we should also redefine the meaning that we give to the word ‘learning’. I see many teachers across different schools to be just making the students write paragraphs of ‘answers’ to their notebooks by seeing their devices. This could keep the child occupied but with no real learning. At Least in villages, children do learn certain things by staying home, however, it’s hard to quantify such learnings.  

8. How do you envision education in the post lockdown world?
Teachers and students might be better equipped at handling technological tools for learning since they have got a hang of it.

9. How is teaching/learning at Infant Jesus change going to change after lockdown?

We plan to use blended learning with the help of technological tools. We are also looking at the prospect of conducting classes in batches with fewer students to ensure proper social distancing practices.

10. Please talk little about the value education books you have been working on? 

Flourish – A Book of stories is a series of bilingual books (English + Tamil) that intend to improve the English language skills of the children and impart moral education through stories. The stories in these books are enhanced, in terms of exercises provided for the students, for them to have an immersive learning experience. It also comes with an Android app to help children read with ease.

11. What is your advice to young kids?

What craft did you make do?

12. How do you think the year 2020 could have been, if not for the pandemic?

A fun-filled summer camp at our school!



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