Addressing students on screen has become the new normal for teachers in the times of COVID-19. But it is not a cakewalk for teachers as they do not have to just learn and adapt to new technologies but also face bullying. In fact, many teachers are also refusing to conduct online classes as they are being ‘bullied’ by the parents.
Teachers say they are already under a lot of pressure and are overwhelmed by the digital experience. To top it all, they also now have to bear parents’ complaints about poor quality of teaching, wrong pronunciations and spellings, harsh tone and lack of warmth towards their wards. Videos from online classes showing teachers in poor light have also gone viral on social media. According to a recent report by Deccan Herald, many teachers from prominent private schools across Karnataka have refused to conduct online classes henceforth.
A teacher, on the basis of anonymity, told EducationWorld that schools hesitate to take action because they want to keep parents happy as ‘they are the customers’. “Teachers are not actors to give perfect live shots. Even the most experienced actors go for a couple of takes before giving the final shot,” he says.
‘Cyber Buddies’ to combat illegal online activities
Sanaaz Doust, counselling lead, Inventure Academy, says they have had a few instances where students were bullied by other students where kids made memes and teased others on private chats during online classes. She claims that such incidents have not happened with teachers so far. She says the school has framed a cyber policy and conducts awareness drives regularly for children on online safety and cyber bullying. “We also have two ‘cyber buddies’ from each grade who are trained by experts on cyber safety. They report to us in case there are any untoward incidents. We speak to the students and sometimes, with parents, to ensure safety of kids.
Dr Ratna Ghose, head of Capstone School High, Hoskote says since a month that they have started the online classes, they have not received any complaints of cyber bullying from teachers or parents. She believes open communication with all stakeholders is the key to keep cyber bullying in check and resolve the issue. “We have been conducting orientation with parents and teachers. The IT team has also conducted a session with teachers during their training on cyber safety. We have had open discussions about cyber bullying with parents and teachers. We have also created a document on cyber safety and shared it with parents. It also addresses cyber bullying and social bullying,” she says.
‘No concrete measures to manage cyberbullying’
Shashikumar, general secretary, Associated Management of Primary and Secondary Schools, Karnataka, says there seems to be no solution at present to address cyber bullying. “We are unable to take any measures. Parents cannot expect all teachers to be professionally equipped to give high quality deliverance. Students also misbehave with teachers during online classes. They pass comments and mute the class and discuss about teachers with other students. When one stands in front of a camera, one becomes conscious and teachers may stammer or have other issues,” he says.
Schools had taken to online teaching after they shut down in mid-March following a government directive which was part of the government’s efforts to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
CBSE releases manual on cyberbullying
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on Wednesday launched a ‘Cyber Security Handbook’ for classes 9 to 12. The handbook covers various topics such as digital security, digital rights and responsibilities, and digital law.
The handbook also contains activities that cover topics such as digital access, digital literacy, digital rights and security and digital etiquettes. It also creates awareness about the precautions that a student should take to be wary of cyber crimes. It also explains cyber bullying and cyber stalking and lists out good practices that a student should follow online so that they do not engage in unlawful activities. The handbook also provides contacts for students to report about bullying, harassment and unlawful activities online.
Akhila DamodaranNews, States