The unprecedented pandemic has had debilitating effects on schools around the world. Yet, some schools have triumphed through the pandemic through sheer grit and unwavering focus on doing what’s needed for their students’ progress. Here is one such inspiring story.
Background: Chandler Matriculation Higher Secondary School (established 1972) is a very reputed school in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, that has taught for close to 50 years in the traditional way. In March 2020, they suddenly had to think of alternative ways to continue teaching and learning.
Teachers as Learners
Mrs Rose Kirubavathy, the principal, is a veteran educationist with 33 years of experience. She knew the teaching had to continue but was worried because her teachers did not have any training to handle this new situation. They decided to record videos of the teachers on their mobile phones and share the videos with the students. But this didn’t work out due to two major issues. First, having taught only in the face-to-face format, teachers found it difficult to convert the lessons for an online format and present them in an engaging manner. Second, they realised they lacked knowledge of the correct infrastructure and types of visual aids to use in video lessons. Mrs Rose realised her staff needed training and she had to solve the biggest problem - that the teachers did not know how to teach in an online medium.
Tackling disruptions with a proactive ed-tech approach
Mrs Rose, speaking of working with Learning Matters said, “Learning Matters started from the very basics such as how to turn on a computer. They not only covered the fundamentals of how to prepare for and teach in an online setting but also guided the teachers through how to manage students and handle them in online classes. They encouraged the teachers every step of the way and repeated explanations until teachers understood them fully. They were also firm with the teachers, demanding active participation from all and ensuring everyone completed all their ‘homework’ daily. Teachers who were so afraid of facing the camera are now confident and bold. They are able to speak with clarity and with improved language skills. I am now eagerly looking forward to using their virtual voice teacher Tara to further improve my teachers’ and students' communicative English language skills.”
Dr J. Aruldoss, the correspondent of the school, decided the only way forward was to make a complete transition to online classrooms. He said, “I had heard about Learning Matters and their professional development programs and webinars for teachers. I spoke to them in detail, got to know them really well and was convinced that they could really make a difference for us.”
Mrs Prema, a grade 3 teacher, was worried how she would cope up with online teaching as she did not even know how to check her email. But after the training from Learning Matters, she is able to use Google apps such as Slides, Forms and Docs easily to create lessons. She, who used to ask her son in grade 7 for help earlier, is now teaching her colleagues. She says, “The strategies and techniques that we have learned from Learning Matters have promoted more collaboration and interaction among the staff. The assignments given to us by the trainers actually hooked us into wanting to learn more!”
Mrs Ponrani teaches Hindi to grades 1 to 9. She was motivated to learn how to teach online but had no clue how to go about it. After the Learning Matters sessions, she has realised that there is a world of smart tools and techniques at her fingertips and that there is so much teachers can achieve with free tools. This was a revelation to her. She has learned how to set-up and use Google Classroom effectively. In her own words, “Yennala mudiyum” to conduct online classes!”
Impact and Lessons Learned
In just 5 weeks, Chandler Matriculation Higher Secondary School was able to achieve a dramatic 180-degree transformation and build up their skills in online classrooms from scratch showing that it is indeed possible to upskill teachers in a short time provided there is commitment and passion to the cause of education. Team Learning Matters congratulates the staff of Chandler for their dedication and hard work.
If you know a school that wants to have a success story like Chandler Matriculation Higher Secondary School, contact Mr Anand K, VP, Learning Matters at + 91 98437 02020 or email email@example.com