Distance Learning as Another New Challenge for Teachers

Mariam Iremadze

The new Coronavirus (Covid 19) has radically changed the daily life of modern society. Many problems have arisen in all directions. Due to the pandemic caused by the virus, changes in the country have affected all sectors. It became necessary to introduce regulations and  implement them. A quarantine has been announced. The usual rhythm of life has changed and people have been doing their job from home. Schools and universities have started distance learning, which has been difficult for many teachers and they face another new challenge.

Tina Kokhreidze is a mathematics teacher and she has been teaching at one of the public schools in Kutaisi for 27 years. For her, distance learning has become a new challenge, with difficulties because neither she nor her colleagues have had any experience in this field.

“Online learning was a really new challenge for me, I was confused and scared at first. I thought the pandemic would end soon, but it didn't happen so, the situation worsened. I realized that there was a difficult situation in the country and it became necessary to behave differently. I can say that I started working from scratch. I was lucky that my daughter was at home during the quarantine and she helped me to find out about the Microsoft Teams program, we soon registered students and started teaching, we slowly got better and improved”, said Tina Kokhreidze.

“However, my wish was to conduct training for teachers so that we could learn more about online teaching. I would be happy to listen to the training. If the professionals taught me the online teaching methods that would help us make better use of the program”,  She added.

Teachers faced a variety of problems in distance learning. There was often a shortage of internet, a malfunction of the program, and at the same time the children themselves turned off the microphones of the classmates and the teachers had to solve these problems instead of conducting a lesson.

Tina Kokhreidze had a similar situation during the lesson. “At first there were a lot of problems, “Teams” has a whiteboard on which everyone can write, the kids deleted the writings, sometimes they started drawing on the examples they had written, turning off each other's voices and throwing them out of the group. However, fortunately, they soon realized that there was a learning process and such behavior would harm them. That is why we have had fewer such shortcomings recently”, explained the teacher.

The difference between online teaching and regular school is huge. The relationship between the student and the teacher in the school is different, they meet almost every day and learn a lot from each other. It all happens differently in distance learning. It’s as if the relationship is no longer so warm and becomes cold. 

“The difference, of course, is that personal relationships are still important, the teacher not only teaches the student the subject, but he also becomes his mentor and friend. As a teacher, I learn a lot from them. So distance learning seemed to slow down that process. In terms of relationships, create a deficit of warm attitudes. But we had no other choice, so during our online studies we tried to show the warm attitude we had before”, said Tina Kokhreidze.

The disadvantages of online learning soon became apparent and most of the teachers started talking about the defects. 

Natalia Sofromadze is an English teacher and teaches 4 classes. She believes that online learning is accompanied by many problems. She feels more responsible and disciplined from students at school than in distance learning. “Pupils are accustomed to a different approach and are more attentive during the lesson process. When learning online, the issue is often superficial and incomprehensible. Also it is not accessible to everyone, and some students are left without an education, depending only on the TV lessons, and can not get involved in school lessons.  That is why I am not in favor of constant distance learning”, said the teacher.

It is true that teachers are not very enthusiastic about distance learning, but they believe that they will use this method of teaching in the future. 

“ I can not say that  I like online teaching, but I may use this method at other times. I will provide students with presentations and assignments through this program and they will also send assignments to me through it. It also gives us the opportunity to do quizzes and is a good way to do that”, said Tina Kokhreidze.

“However, constantly, if there is a distance learning, in my opinion it will not be justified, because we still cannot fully overcome the program, which is our main goal" , she added.

During the distance learning, the teachers had to stay at home, prepare the lessons and make connections from there. Which, of course, did no't turn out to be easy for them. Because this job needed to arrange its own place. When a family consists of many members it is difficult to make their own corner and find peace.

For Natalia Sofromadze, whose family consists of 6 members, it was difficult to make video lessons from home and decided to do distance learning from her mother's house, who lives alone so as not to be disturbed.  “Learning is a serious matter, students ask the teacher to acquire knowledge and this job really needs calmness.I had obstacles at home and decided to take lessons from a quiet place, so I arranged my corner in my mother's house. Fortunately, she lives close to me and things have gotten easier for me”, explained the teacher.

Tina was lucky in this regard, she organized the school environment at home and calmly conducted lessons. “From the very beginning I took a corner, chose a cozy room to make video lessons and to give the material to the students. There were no impediments. Family members also understand the story and helped me not to interfere”, said she.

“Before getting involved in the lessons, I always tried to adjust myself, so that students  could see as if we were in a real lesson process, I didn’t want children to notice my excitement and feelings. I tried to calm them down and make the lessons fun ”,  added Tina Kokhreidze.

It is true that online teaching has been going on for a long time and this form of teaching somehow took place, but teachers are eager to get back to their usual rhythm in September and meet their students. 

However, what decision the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports will make on the schools has not been decided yet. Whether online training will continue or whether teachers and students will have to go to school again, it remains unknown.