Today, October 5 is “World Teachers’ Day”. It is a global celebration initiated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1994, to set standards regulating teachers’ rights and responsibilities, their recruitment, education and employment conditions.
In spite of being such a noble and influential profession, it is rare to find teachers being paid as per their true value. I have always held the opinion that the best paid teachers should be our kindergarten and elementary school teachers as they are the ones who put in the most work of moulding our young minds.
This year’s theme is “Teachers: Leading in Crisis, Reimagining the Future”. It has not been easy on educators in recent times. Learning was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic and many are out of jobs all over the world. For those still employed, it has not been easy to implement online learning. Distance learning is the safest option for now, but teachers have had to work extra hard to convert their teaching material to an online format, prepare for recording their lessons, having to buy new computers and accessories to enable them to do so, and some also have to take reduced pay on top of that.
Imagine being an educator at this time, working from home, waiting till it is quiet to be able to record the lessons. Ensuring you have a reliable internet connection to be able to have the live classes and still be expected to gauge how well the students are understanding the material all from a distance!
There are many challenges in online learning. A few big ones are internet connectivity and ensuring all learners are included, as not all families have multiple devices the children can use to access learning. A Kenyan private school I know of has kept the lessons short and brief. They send the learning material and explanations to the parents’ WhatsApp, which has an advantage as there is no need to print; the child will write in the books they have at home. Then in the evenings they have a short online session where the teachers and students can catch up. They prefer to have these live sessions in the evenings when most parents are back home from work so no extra device is really needed.
Kudos to all the educators who are going the extra mile to ensure no learner is left behind. Adapting to this new normal is not easy and some have come up with creative ideas to do so. As we can imagine it is not easy to keep learners engaged when learning is taking place remotely, how can they encourage interest?
Schools have began reopening all over the world, and the teachers also need to be a step ahead to assist the students get back to physical /face to face learning. Add to that the importance of maintaining Covid 19 safety protocols, it sure will not be an easy job for them.
Educators are doing an amazing job and deserve all the praise, appreciation and support they can get. As parents, we know it is challenging for us and our children, but before you sent out that strongly worded email, or mutter dissatisfaction at online instructions, take a moment and appreciate the sacrifice the teachers are making to ensure learning continues. We should learn to empathise with them. Ask them what support they need from us and give it if possible. Give constructive feedback but also remain open minded that online learning is not all black and white. Some of our educators are also learning how to use these resources and they need us to be patient with them too.
On this day, text or email your educators and let them know you appreciate what they do.
To teachers who inspire hope in their students, share their knowledge, light fires in us that make us long to know more, instil wisdom in us and guide us. Thank you!
This is your day. We see you. We appreciate you all the time. Happy World Teacher’s Day!