It has been more than a year since the world was first invaded by the novel Corona virus. Since then, we have been lumped with many new vocabulary that once were strange to us. Just to name a few: physical distancing, remote learning/teaching, work from home (WFH), lockdown, self-quarantined, hygiene, sanitise, online learning/teaching and so forth. Out of all the words mentioned, of course, as an educator, I would like to highlight on one of the overly used, overly heard term in our vocabulary bank today: online learning/ teaching.
Just like other professions out there that are significantly affected by the new norm, teaching is no different. I still remember how it all started for our school. It was just a few days before the Movement Control Order (MCO) was announced by the government, our school took a leap of faith to embark on the online learning journey, in fear of the hostile possibilities that were coming ahead if school were to continue in physical. Alhamdulillah, it was indeed a flawless decision as the MCO was then announced several days later, and by that time we were all settled with our online classes.
Teachers underwent vigorous trainings on how to use the platform, the online tools, and basically how to shift from the usual pedagogy of teaching to the online teaching. In fact, this situation happened to the teachers around the world, as it is not an option for education to continue despite the calamity. The situation has called for a new term called ‘Panicgogy’ - a panic situation among educators in equipping themselves with the necessary online skills in a short period of time. But Alhamdulillah, the fact that we home a set of determined, hardworking and resilient teachers have made this arduous job possible.
We were determined to let our students continue their education and make them used to this new norm. Despite being online, students still learn all the same subjects they have in school, without a single subject missed. If we were to think of it at first, it seemed impossible to have subjects like Physical Education, Design & Tech and Arts online as the subjects require a lot of physical activities. Nonetheless, our teachers have been very creative against all odds. Have you ever thought of having a swinging exercise in PE class using a fly swatter? Sounds amusing right? But our students were very creative taking anything possible to ‘swing’ and hey the objective of the lesson was successfully achieved! What about taking a broom as a light saber for a Star Wars exercise? Yep, our PE teacher did that too!
Just when I thought getting students to present ‘in front’ of the class is impossible, I was totally wrong. In fact, this online learning has really enhanced our students’ skills of presentation. Power Point, Canva, Keynote, all the things that we thought they would at least master in secondary school, our primary students have managed to conquer it all. I myself was surprised when my year-4 students took a full control of the class during the presentation, doing all the screen sharing, presenting and asking their friends’ participation.
Let’s talk about Science. We might be thinking, experiments = laboratory. Nope. Online learning has proven that your curiosity knows no place and home can be a place of exploration. You just need to bring all the materials in front of your device, and walla! your experiment can go on without a problem. An orange to replace a planet? A clothes peg to replace a G-clamp? Marbles as particles? You name it. Our teachers and students know how to make things work. Not to mention how this pandemic has made a lot of us teacher-vloggers, unfastening our newly discovered talent. It is so true that people say teachers are entertainers, even if that means we have to be a vlogger, we’ll roll the punches!
IDRISSI has also come a long way in the online learning since apart from the online classes, we also managed to do other extra activities with our students online such as Virtual Escape Room, Virtual Youth Qari Competition, Sembang@WWF, Virtual Family Day and many more. Not only that, we have also managed to conduct our first ever online examination, where students experienced answering exam questions, just like in the physical class, with an invigilator, in a completely silent atmosphere where they can only ‘put up’ their hand when they have questions, except that it is in their home as supposed to a classroom. Again, it was another possible discovery. Like I said, just when we thought learning is impossible to happen, this new norm has made us think beyond what we imagined we could do.
The bottom line is, we believe, when there’s a will, there’s a way. Our teachers, at the same time, are also a daughter, a son, a husband, a wife, a father and a mother. It is not a piece of cake to sit down for a long time, entertaining other pairs of eyes before the screen, and at the same time juggling with the multiple roles we have at home. But, at this point of time, everyone is struggling and the only thing we can do is giving our best for our children.
And above all, we are grateful of the compassionate family of IDRISSI that Allah has blessed us with - the students, the parents, the teachers, and the management. Without the support from each party, this adversity might have been worse, and our children might end up falling behind. But every cloud has a silver lining. Our children have indeed advanced in their learning, unfolding a lot of new skills before they knew it. And with that, Alhamdulillah, all praises to Allah.