Tuesday, February 23, 2021

One year on, questions still abound for pandemic-era teachers

How to keep students engaged through online learning and to tackle the different contexts in each school are just some of the uncertainties they have.

Other News

Myanmar generals under renewed pressure after sanctions, mass protest

Three anti-coup protesters have been killed in demonstrations so far, while a man patrolling his Yangon neighbourhood against night arrests was also shot dead on the weekend.

Falling jet engine parts prompt suspension of some older Boeing jets

The incidents bring a new headache for Boeing as it recovers from the 737-MAX grounding worldwide.

Ahli Parlimen PH dalam jawatankuasa khas darurat tetap mahukan sidang Parlimen

Mereka berkata sidang Dewan Rakyat sangat penting untuk memastikan segala agenda dan langkah-langkah untuk membendung Covid-19 dapat dibahaskan.

PH trio in emergency committee insist on Dewan Rakyat sitting

They say this will help ensure checks and balance and allow MPs to debate the measures taken to contain Covid-19.

China’s treatment of Uighurs is genocide, says Canadian parliament

PM Trudeau has been reluctant to use the word genocide, preferring that Western allies should move together on Chinese human rights issues.

A year after the Covid-19 pandemic hit Malaysian shores, upending conventional ways of teaching and learning and forcing those in the education sector out of their traditional comfort zone, many teachers are still grappling with questions concerning their role in the new normal – questions which, for some, are mirrored in their students as well.

Fresh from the roller-coaster ride of 2020, educators and students across all levels are now back in the classroom although for most, the classroom is virtual and contact with others depends on webcams and microphones.

For the most part, conducting lessons online has been different, to say the least.

Chew Mei Yee from NGO Teach for Malaysia said when news broke that face-to-face classes would no longer be held, the question for many was what home-based learning would look like.

Although the education ministry released a guideline on the matter, some teachers were still concerned about the new schedule and what would be expected of them.

And at least some of these concerns appeared justified.

“We had 90 teachers who were teaching last year,” said Chew whose organisation aims to address and eradicate inequity in education. Through a fellowship programme, potential talents are hired to teach full-time for two years before doing so on a long-term basis at high-need schools around the country.

“Even with their best efforts of being super creative and really trying to engage with students, the reality is there are maybe 30% of students who are engaged in learning.

“That’s a big question,” she told MalaysiaNow. “How do you really reach all the students?”

“The reality is there are maybe 30% of students who are engaged in learning.”

But students have questions, too.

“There’s been a lot more talk among the Form 5 students especially, like a sense of loss of direction and purpose. What are they really learning for at the end of the day?” Chew said.

“For the first time ever, they have all this time on their hands. In that sense, how do they manage their time, especially when different teachers have different expectations and different approaches?”

This adds to the challenge for students, she said.

‘No one-size-fits-all’

Although the education ministry issued a generic guideline, it is difficult for teachers to apply it across the board.

“Every school has a different context,” Chew said.

This confusion extends to parents as well, especially for those who have more than one child and who are trying to work with a less adaptable guideline, she added.

Her suggestion?

“I would say we need to have more localised conversations between schools, teachers and students about what kind of learning rhythm of cycles would work best.”

“What are ways we can change how we think about learning and past structures?”

One way of doing things would be to return to so-called old school teaching methods using pen, paper and snail mail teaching through a correspondence-based approach between teachers and students.

But Chew said organisations also need to start asking questions such as whether the way examinations like SPM are conducted is still the best approach.

“What are ways we can change how we think about learning and past structures?”

For her, it is important to see others as partners and to put aside any and all differences.

“Students are the main stakeholders. We need to see them as key in trying to figure out how to constantly improve this distance-learning situation,” she said.

“In the end, we want the same thing – for students to try and continue learning holistically. We need to move forward together.”

Follow us on Telegram for the latest updates: https://t.me/malaysianow

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news and analyses.

Related Articles

Responding to the challenges of online education

Online teaching and learning is here to stay and academics need to review processes and adopt some simple tips to make online learning more effective.

Is there room for the office in the post-pandemic world?

Many companies say they are ready to continue the work from home trend although the traditional office space may never completely disappear.

New York City movie theatres to reopen

New York City's seven-day rolling average of positive test results is hovering above the 4% mark, down from more than 6% in early January.

Cancer survivors encouraged to take Covid-19 jab, says deputy health DG

Cancer survivors who had their last treatment three to six months before receiving the vaccine should have no problem, he says.

US passes 500,000 Covid-19 deaths

The figure comes as some signs of hope are emerging in the world's hardest-hit country, with millions of people now vaccinated and winter's massive spike in infections dropping.