Teaching in Shelter Homes-Then Vs. Now

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Schools around the country have closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The structure of schooling and learning, including teaching and assessment methodologies, was the first to be affected by these closures. According to UNESCO over 1.5 billion learners in 165 countries have been affected due to COVID-19 school closures.

Internet-based teaching is the most appropriate stop-gap arrangement now. We at Bhumi have been leveraging this medium to ensure continuity of our classes in shelter homes, but there are many changes that our volunteers have experienced and accommodated in this arrangement. We have enlisted these along with possible solutions for some of the outcomes. We urge all our volunteer leaders to read this and also share the same with all the teaching volunteers.

Before lockdown:

On-ground weekend volunteering in shelter homes, where groups of volunteers take sessions based on respective projects and age groups of the beneficiaries. Each volunteer will have a group of children mapped to them ( usually 1:5). Delivery of curriculum is in person and the volunteer establishes close connections with his/her group of children. Volunteers plan the sessions on WhatsApp groups with their peers from the same project. During sessions, a strict child protection policy (CPP) formulated by Bhumi is followed by all volunteers.

During lockdown:

During this ongoing pandemic situation to maintain continuity of our classes, volunteers engage children through a digital medium. Tools like G-Meet and Zoom are used. Volunteers are provided access to these tools from their organizational email ids and it helps them to utilize all the features of the tool. Children and centre management are provided training for handling these tools effectively. Session planning is carried on in the Whtsapp groups just like pre-Corona times. Witj in person connects missing, sometimes volunteers find it challenging to guage the emotions and learning levels of our children. Nevertheless, its a new opprtunity for both the volunteers and children to adapt and learn in this global crisis.

Changes Happened:

NoCategoryThenNowPositivesConcernsSuggestions
1Physical PresenceVolunteers are physically present at the centerVolunteers connect digitally1) Usage of Technology- futuristic approach
2) Children getting exposure to new tech tools
3) Reducing travel time for volunteers
4) Reaching remote locations
5) Center visit no longer requires any volunteer leader to travel, they can just drop in with the class link.
1) Possibility of misuse of technology by children.
2) Unable to tap into the maximum potential of a volunteer due to lack of in person connect
3) Reduced Volunteer and beneficiary interaction
4) Even though confirming a new center takes less time, getting new centers is posing a challenge
1) Following the CPP strictly and guiding the children on one to one basis.
2) Analyzing the volunteer involvement and calculating the requirement based on that.
3) Gather the center details. analyse and procure requirements
2Volunteer: Kids ratioIdeal ratio is 1:5currently it is 1 to many1) No cancellation of classes due to less volunteers
2) Responsibilities can be divided among volunteers easily.
3) Peer learning is encouraged a lot
1) Extremely difficult to give individual attention to the children
2) Only one volunteer is involved while teaching
1) Project can practice batch wise session to cater to different levels based on groups
2) Volunteers can be assigned roles like teaching, class planning and observing.
3Energy and Mind PresenceEasy to judge the same in- personChallenging to understand in online sessions1) Children who feel afraid to speak in a physical classroom may feel braver and start responding more.
2) Able to create a better learning environment in an online medium.
1)Challenging to gauge the energy and mental presence of students.
2) Unable to control the hyper ones due to lack of physical presence
1) Training the volunteers to maximize the use of polls, forms & other online tools.
2) Children Classroom matrix
4Breaks and EnergizersBreaks are planned whenever the kids are low in energyBreaks are planned when the kids started losing the attention1) Classes start with meditation to make the kids relax.
2) Combination of physical and mental activities can be done
Will be difficult to manage if kids get too much involved in case of Physical energizers1) Choose a healthy mix of virtual + physical energizers
2) Make a repository of these for volunteers to pick and choose, can be shared across projects.  
5Session Timing and FrequencySession will happen during the weekend for 2 hoursSession happens during weekdays also. Timing varies from centre to centreSession happening during weekdays increases the engagement with the kids Might need to cut short the session or teaching.1) Planning with a mixture of teaching, fun activities to keep the kids engaged.
2) Choosing energizers aligned to the topic/ learning increases the attention span and a 2-hour session can be planned effectively.
6Student AttendanceManually tracked in ZohoNo changeNANATaking the attendance at the start of the sessions
7VolunteerAttendanceManually tracked in ZohoNo changeNANATaking the attendance right after the session is over, while discussing the feedbacks
8AssetDepends upon project to projectAudio Video device like Tab, Mobile and laptop1) Exposure to various learning platforms during the session.
2) Knowledge about the device and the platform used.
1) Internet is a must which may be a limitation
2) Not all centres have enough devices
1) Fundraising and providing laptops with webcam and speakers to the centres.
2) Reimbursing the internet charges  
9Teaching Learning materialsUsage of physical materials, books and worksheetUsage of Digital methods like videos, PPT etc1) New TLMs can be prepared/used from online open resources
2) Exploration of various tools and platforms
3) Effective class planning can be done as a volunteer has to do some base study to prepare the material.
1) Limited Hands on Practice
2) Experiential learning will be a challenge
3) Time taken to create a PPT and class planning is high.
1) Sending the physical materials to centres and training the volunteers to teach hands on during online sessions along with training on various tools and platform
2) Formation of National Content support team for each project
3) Collaboration on center, project and programme levels
10Syllabus trackingVolunteers keep note on their groups/ kids. Syllabus Completion can be ensuredVolunteers track and complete the syllabus based on a rough digital planEffective tracking of activities, materials and topic completed/covered during the sessionSyllabus completion will be a huge challenge due the prevailing uncertainty.1) Usage of Content tracker (w.i.p) to track the syllabus completion effectively.
2) Breaking down the syllabus and sharing the digital materials to the centers along with assignments.
11AssessmentsHappens twice a year (BAT and EYA)End of topic assessments on small scaleVolunteers assess the kids based on their needs and frequently. Flexible options are exercised. It is not being effectively tracked as the method varies from centre to centre1) Individual Viva
2) Group quiz
3) Project/Do it yourself type
4) Digital tools (like Jungroo, Raspberry pi)
5) Usage of google form.