In the last couple of weeks, in fact, a couple of months, people around the world have been living under as well as witnessing a “tragedy” that many of us did not expect before. It was started in Wuhan, China, then spread to other countries, including Indonesia now. Coronavirus, Covid-19, that absorbs our energy and focus and hinders us to live our normal lives. Work from Home (WFH), Learn from Home (LFH), and other terms have emerged during this period of “tragedy” that represent our life conditions and the way we live our very lives.
In the world of education, teachers, as well as parents, are forced, even if they do not want to, to adapt to the current situation by “moving” the education from schools to homes. No physical face-to-face classes are conducted anymore, particularly in the regions in which the situation is worsening over time. Instead, schools use platforms such as Google Classroom, Edmodo, Google Hangout, Skype, Zoom, Google Meet, and Flipgrid to help communicate with parents and students at home as well as to conduct teaching and learning activities. Technology increasingly serves as a commodity to schools and other educational institutions.
Some schools, which were not really into technology, are forced to adapt and use these technological tools to keep them “alive”. Teachers and parents, no matter how traditional and tech-blind they are, need to learn to use all these software and applications. The ways teaching and learning activities are carried out are changed as well. No more whiteboards and markers, fewer worksheet papers, and other hands-on activities are limited. Teachers can’t fully rely on their expertise in delivering and facilitating the instructions and materials anymore, because they just can’t. Students, on the other hand, can’t fully rely on the direct help of their teachers. In other words, both teachers and students need to learn to be more independent, put their best effort to survive, and trust the counterparts that they will put their best effort.
I, myself, am a teacher. A mathematics teacher for the senior-level (year 10 up to year 12). Prior to this condition, I never imagined that I would use an online class to teach mathematics, to ask students to do assignments that are mainly handwritten and ask them to submit their paper online. I never imagined that marking papers would be troublesome. I never imagined that teaching mathematics becomes more challenging due to the limitation of a physical meeting.
But, guess what. Our parents are even more troubled. Have you heard how many parents get panic, or at least confused, because all of a sudden, they have to be the teachers to their own children? Full time! Lucky are those parents whose job is teaching. They could use their knowledge, skills and experience during this period of time. But, many parents struggle to fill up the time they have at home with their children, especially the young ones, trying to keep them learning and occupied. Activities running out, office work occupying, their children got bored, but they can’t (or probably frighten) go anywhere outside the house.
Suddenly, the value of a teacher highly increases (if not exponentially increases). We have witnessed, in the last couple of years, teachers have not been that important in the eyes of many people, particularly parents and students. Teachers were disrespected and not honored, particularly in Indonesia. Some cases even could be found where teachers were harassed by the parents and/or students. Now, our beloved parents struggle if the school, their teachers do nothing or stay silent to help them teach their children. At the same time, they (start to) realize that the job of a teacher is extremely difficult. They barely can replace the role of a teacher.
Dear teachers around the world, especially in Indonesia, in this difficult time, be proud. Do what we have to do. Though things change and we need to step out of our comfort zone, we are valuable. Our students might be able to learn from YouTube, websites, podcasts, textbooks, and other learning resources, however, who will encourage and teach them to really think? Who will encourage and push the kids to go the extra mile? Who will be so patient to deal with them? Who will model the character of a mature person that takes care of a bunch of kids in the class? Who will question and teach the kids the values of life? Who will teach and force the kids to socialize and be frustrated to deal with challenges? It’s us. Our job as teachers.
Never give up on the situation, no matter how difficult it is now. Let us work together, share our knowledge, expertise and experience, and encourage each other. Use our creativity to do our job. Never stop educating our beloved children as well as parents, while we are taking care of our wellbeing. Use any means possible to inspire them, to help them fulfill their fullest potential. Work with parents, work with the students. Tough we are “only” connected online, teachers are still teachers. Our job is to inspire the world to advance for a better future, and we will do anything possible to live our mission in this world. Regardless of the current situation, our mission is still the same.
Never stop learning, never stop teaching, never stop inspiring the world.
God bless us all.