Schools have performed at a different level altogether during the Lockdown. Some scaled up their skills while others innovated. In our series of talks with the principals, Naina Pandey of GYV spoke to principal of DAV Bariatu in Ranchi, Vinay Kumar Pandey to understand what all changed during the period. In an hour long talk principal explained how the entire team of school including the students, teachers and parents embraced the new normal. The school is prepared to host contact classes for the senior students incase a clear cut direction comes from the authorities but as of now they are focusing on improvising the learning techniques online.
How has the Pandemic and Lockdown changed things for DAV Bariatu?
There has been a massive change. There have been times when we weren’t aware of the technical things but now we have learnt a lot. Online classes, online activities, online counselling, online Parents and Teachers meeting, everything became online. We actually learnt a lot during this Covid time.
Are you planning to start contact classes for class 9 to 12 students?
Personally, I think that at this moment of time calling the students is not possible. It won’t be appropriate to call students back to school right now due to the hike in the number of Covid 19 cases in the country. However, I have planned to make this in such a way that we will be calling 10 students only from each class and maintain social distance norms. And as I said, in the field of education the involvement of parents is also extremely crucial. If the authorities make it mandatory we are going to abide but with consent of parents.
What was the effect of online classes on students?
The students have learned self- discipline. For a certain period of time they are sitting with parents, or with their mobile phones, doing their classes on time, maintaining their notes, submitting their assignments to the teachers. For the first time they have learnt self discipline and responsible.
What challenges were faced by students and teachers during online sessions?
This period has been very challenging for each one of us. Initially, we wondered how we would manage this. During those days, even the teachers looked at me and wondered as if I was introducing something very unusual. Then eventually, all of us came together and worked very hard to make all of this happen. The efforts put in by the teachers have surpassed my expectations as well. There is a possibility of online classes being very important in the future. Holding practical classes was a big challenge. While some teachers upgraded by being conversant with online labs, few others took the apparatus and chemicals home to demonstrate practical classes online to the students.
Staying indoor with restricted movement has taken a toll. Is the school taking any initiatives to help students with this?
Debate, Art competitions, even the Physical Education classes, Yoga, everything is being carried out through online classes like regular days.
What were the unusual things that your teachers did to make sure that they passed on their teachings to the students?
Teachers are very innovative. Our teachers have introduced virtual labs which is a very good addition to the curriculum. In this situation the students are not being able to attend the labs, so virtual labs are good as they help students attend the practical classes in a virtual setting. Virtual labs provide a tool which you can access from anywhere. It is used to the measurements, take the readings, and carry out an experiment. Some of our teachers who were in remote settings, did the practical experiments themselves, with their lab assistants, and showed it to their students in virtual classrooms.
Because of online learning, there has been an increase in the screen time of students. Does this worry you and the parents?
Every time something new is introduced in the world, it is being objected to by a certain set of individuals. Sometimes parents of young children get worried and concerned as well. Taking everybody’s interest into consideration, we are not keeping the classes for 6 continuous hours.
Tell us something about your journey of becoming a principal of DAV Bariatu.
After doing my MSc, I joined KV as a teacher, in the year ‘89. In the year ‘95, I got the charge of the DAV Bistupur . After that I went to DAV Daltonganj, then DAV Dhanbad after which I again came to DAV Daltonganj but now as a Principal. I have been a principal since ‘95. And a few months back I joined DAV Bariatu. It makes me very proud to be the Principal of the school. Teachers here are very good, they have a lot of potential. Parents are also very supportive.
Even after all these years, are you still in touch with any of your teachers and principals or students?
Yes, talking to my teachers gives me immense happiness. Though many of them are not alive now but I am in touch with two of them.
Whenever my students meet me, touch my feet, tell me that they are my students, it makes me really proud. One of my students named Brijesh who works in the BSL office met me recently, I loved that moment and that conversation.
Given a chance to be a student again, which timeline of your life will you want to go back to again?
I loved being a student and I miss my schooldays most. I would love to be a student of class X again.
As a school student, how many hours did you study and do you think the students today should be following the same?
As a kid I used to study continuously for 2 hours daily. Never more. I expect the same from my students as well.
Bullying has been a serious issue. Was the situation the same when you were a kid? How did you cope up?
Bullying among students has increased more in the recent times compared to ours. I also have faced bullying as a child but teachers helped students then, they do the same now. Even friends can help cope up with such situation.