Online teaching experience
Updated: Aug 16, 2020
This video was long pending and a push from a friend helped me finally compile and post it.
I have always wanted to experience teaching. I have always felt it is a huge responsibility. One has access to a young brain’s molding. A lot of caution and thinking through is required!
Internship with Shivanjali NGO in the pandemic summer 2020 allowed me to do it. Luckily for me, I could make mistakes without being afraid of harming another person. How? I had to make video lessons. Which meant I could delete, rehearse, repeat, and record. I thought that it was great to slowly step into my experience of teaching in life. I was scared of not looking good enough in the videos, or just generally scared if I would be able to perform in front of an inanimate object imagining what a child must be comprehending of my words but I did get better or at least got calmer about it.
The video I am putting here is one I took; on the day I recorded my last chapter. It is not as informative as I would now prefer but it’s the first shot and the most real of me. I am embarrassed about saying that I was scared that I don’t look thin enough, but that’s what I thought and that’s what I blurted and well, I can’t hide, unfortunately, I am a prey to the social standards too. I know, I am and; I know, like many of us I am trying hard to not judge myself by them.
As I mentioned in the video, I sought guidance from people around me who have been teaching for a while and have had training. They reviewed my first few chapters, as I could not imagine responses from potential students.
Assuming that the socio-economics class of these students is low, IQ (Intelligence Quota) and EQ (Emotional Quota) is average and languages understood are Hindi for reading(4/5), writing(3/5) and speaking(4.5/5); and English for reading(2/5), writing (2/5) and speaking(2.5-3/5), based on everyone’s inputs I have noted down the following points that could be useful if you are teaching a 3rd class (approx. 8 years old) student – Mathematics in North India.
1. It is okay, in fact, good to explain - using simple words, focusing on the intent of the chapter.
For example, if you are explaining what a rectangle is, it is not necessary to use the word “parallel” for opposite sides. Since the aim is to make the student understand what a rectangle (the shape) is, try to achieve that without needing to mention any additional new words or concepts.
2. You need to keep that focus, also because the attention span of an 8-year-old is much less than you can imagine. Most teaching decisions are made keeping that in mind. Now, I didn’t get to find that out through practice, but every teacher I asked stressed on this. I tried to keep that in mind to keep the videos short.
3. Read the text slowly, pronounce each word, emphasize on every word to ensure that it is heard, comprehended, and understood. The word should also be retained in the memory to complete the rest of the sentence, if the sentence is long, break it into shorter simplified sentences and also repeat the whole sentence (comparatively faster) after stressing on all words.
4. Remember to know your audience, your performance would mean nothing without that. You need to see how the kids respond and react accordingly. This goes not just for the narration of sentences but everything.
5. Usually, in a mathematics class, my friend mentioned, students’ skills that are honed are – 1. Reading comprehension, 2. Reading fluency and 3. Basic mathematics.
6. SHOW MORE, SPEAK LESS. Describing any idea, explaining any concept, when done visually is much more effective than spoken words – which are at this age still just undergoing forming of meaning.
7. To start a lesson or a new topic with a contextual example is always useful and makes it easier for the student to grab the concept. Be sensitive and sensible of the contextual example, it varies between you and your students and among students too. If you ask to use a prop, make sure it is easily available for everyone in their respective environments after school and during too. In my case since I was recording video lessons, I had to be extra careful about that.
8. Summarize the questions and spend more time on the solutions. Questions in NCERT books, often complicate things unnecessarily, so don’t spend too much time reading them word to word to the students, cut to the chase.
9. If students are not able to solve a question and you don’t want to give it to them directly, give multiple options so they can together find out the correct answer.
10. Do not provide solutions for questions that demand creativity. Children tend to copy them and not think as openly and imaginatively as they could have if no solution was provided. Also, these questions do not have any wrong and right answers, plus take time, so give them as homework.
11. About which question to show the solving process of and which not, here is what one teacher suggested:
First, do a few which are easy to introduce the concept and explain what seems enough number of times.
Then take the ones you mark as difficult beforehand and solve them in class.
The ones which have a medium level of difficulty – let students do them on their own as classwork or/and homework.
If there is more than one difficult question but with a similar method to solve, you don’t need to explain more than once or twice.
12. She also mentioned, on average, she does 4 to 5 exercises in class to give 2 to 3 as homework.
13. When you explain things like shapes, size, angle (side from which an object is viewed), do not give space to ambiguity. That can create confusion.
14. I, in a way mentioned before as well, don’t give children a lot of information, don’t tell too much, tell the most important thing, know what’s most important to be understood in a given case.
15. Whenever you read a sentence, speak it right after, in Hindi. Especially in case of larger paragraphs, you can speak them only in Hindi too if it’s getting too repetitive.
16. Always teach CONCEPTS in Hindi (assuming that students are fluent in that particular language), it is necessary to make sure that concepts are properly understood.
One of my friends also said ‘Remember that 3rd class students are only just coming from 2nd class’. Now, it didn’t mean much to me because I haven’t ever taught either, but if it helps you, you can remember that for the next time you need a reminder.
Be kind, be patient and I know you are there to teach but be open to learning, age doesn’t matter!
I'd like to mention - my friends John and Aditi for reviewing and giving suggestions, my sister, Swati, my mother, Sudha for their valuable inputs and my friend Monica for the final push to make this post. I am grateful to all of them and I hope this post benefits someone at least a bit.