Revathi Srinivasan, Director – Education and Principal, Smt. Sulochanadevi Singhania School
I have a lot of friends in the Corporate world who experience Work from Home (WFH) stations. I was never inquisitive enough to ask for what it really meant. For an educationist like me, I never had the opportunity to experience it. I spent almost all my vacation at workplaces too. The Coronavirus forced isolation and we closed the school for 2 weeks .The health scare is no longer as an individual problem now, it had become a community one that needed collective action.
The school had just shut, the kids went back home. Our new session had just begun. The new timetable had not yet been set into action. The elementary school kids were in their final phase of the year re-visiting old lessons. I was happy that kids would be home. The summer has just set in and it is warm and humid. Then, everyone got the WFH directive. The adults were at home too. I was happy that the family will be together and will get more time to spend with each other. We have got so used to not being with each other that it’s turning difficult, not knowing what to talk and how to talk.
A typical day at a typical household has been– waking the kids up, calling out to get ready, rushing to make a simple breakfast while the maid rolls out the rotis, the Dad get the kids ready, while the Mom is getting herself to rush to work .Bottles filled, the snack-box readied, the bags packed correctly, uniforms ironed, a few phones and text messages answered, parents run to the bus-stop and run back to get ready to go to work. Everything has to work with a precision that may put the clock to shame. Everything seems so automated.
Let’s just flip this. To look at the adults– careers, grooming, appointments, deadlines, networking, targets, socialising, strategies and upgradation of skills. The day seems to be a few 100 pieces of jigsaw puzzle. If they are placed perfectly, you will have a “vision” or else you are termed as a “Bad Manager.” The week seems ever so packed with us trying to put the piece of the jigsaw puzzle correctly. One can only sigh and say– No time to stare ……
So ,I thought this WFH is a boon for working parents getting the best of both the worlds. Until, we as a school, took off to work from home. Everyone would think there are no hard-hitting deadlines, sales targets, networking calls or videos, no grooming, no mandatory socials for teachers. But, we have it different. We create a new job profile for ourselves that has a very wide expanse .As soon as we closed school, we met to discuss how we could make use of this leave productively. How to make this isolation period a little meaningful for our children at home?
Our “work day from home” begins now at 6 am, preparing lesson presentations, quizzes, audios ,worksheets while the members of our family are still asleep. This gives us 2 hours of prep time. Then, rushing with breakfast , we close our doors to the family, so that we get to taking the live lessons with our students. A few online meetings, planning sessions with faculty and sections, preparation of worksheets, question papers , helping colleagues with their presentations, a few official mails fills the mornings . Before we realize there is a knock on the door—our hungry family members. Rushing in to the kitchen to make a one pot meal , the very basic meal to feed the hungry tummy, before she rushes to her computer to take a video call from a student who comes online for a doubt-clearing session. And then begins her work– the reading,/corrections /new learning follows … Till the knock on the door reminds her that it is dinner time.
Who said, “WFH is a privilege”? One tends to work more, with no boundaries. Look at teachers- It is believed that teaching is restricted to imparting lesson, preparing question papers and corrections. It’s much beyond what people realise. The school is closed. There are no assignments or examinations in hand. Yet , teachers rose to the occasion of staying ahead of time and needs of the students. We have used every platform from Zoom , Hangouts, Skype, Google classrooms , online quizzes , online games , storytelling ,reading aloud, puppet show , to our own App_the Sulonian Quest . Hats off to the teachers who are constantly rethinking and redesigning their scope of work beyond themselves and their confines. So many of us learnt it, mastered it and then came on. Watch our WhatsApp messages – no forwards on Corona, no good morning messages or jokes ,it is all about how we can make learning more fun and lively for our kids.
My pranams to all the teachers.
INPUTS BY: Revathi Srinivasan, Director – Education and Principal, Smt. Sulochanadevi Singhania School