Mrs. Sneha Katara - Lead Trainer & Storyteller at National Academy, Mumbai.
Training faculty Mrs. Sneha Katara talks about the changing role of Educators during the pandemic outbreak.
Education sector has been the most vulnerable in this pandemic. As much as the virtual learning has been adapted it has not been easy for everyone. From the struggle of getting access to basic internet facilities to juggling between personal and professional lives, each one has had their part of ups and downs in adapting to the new normal in this pandemic.
“Every crisis brings a challenge and every challenge brings an opportunity and evolution” believes Mrs. Sneha Katara, a language development coach who works as a lead trainer and story teller at National Academy, Mumbai. With almost 10 years of experience in teaching Mrs. Katara has worked with kids and adults training them in phonics, grammar and story telling. For someone who started her career as a hobby today has established a name & reputation for herself. “Teaching happened to me just by chance. I started training kids in dance for extra pocket money and slowly moved towards storytelling and phonics and then finally shifted to formal education by getting a diploma certificate in Ecced” shares Mrs. Katara about her initial days of career.
Past few months have been extremely challenging for the education sector since Covid-19 has impacted the world in many ways. Schools and learning institution closure has caused huge disruptions to education processes across the globe. Initially the institutions were shut temporarily but with increased number of infection rates in the country, learning institutions still remain closed with uncertainties. Thus, schools have shifted their base to virtual platforms to conduct classes online. Consequently, catering to the needs of all stages of education from pre-primary to university level, online education has emerged as an alternative to regular face-to-face classes. Teachers had to face a lot of challenges in adapting to this new normal. Our guest Mrs. Sneha Katara shares her teaching and learning experience as she talks about this sudden change of physical to now virtual teaching.
How has the pandemic impacted your job as a teacher training faculty?
The majority of our students are either mothers or home makers looking for a satisfying career or mid career professionals. The biggest challenge was to move to the digital platform and help our students get learning with the same and this sudden transition from physical to virtual was something that took a lot of time but gradually we have all adapted to it.
How have you been teaching your students from home during the lockdown?
These tough times have taught us many lessons in a rather unusual manner so in order to survive it is very important to be adaptive to the situations. My colleagues and I have been working from home. We all had to learn how to use various apps like zoom and Microsoft teams in order to ensure smooth and safe learning for our students. In a way, we were exploring and learning, and teaching in different ways.
In the new normal while everyone is adapting to the work-from-home culture, how do you solve the queries of your students and their parents in absence of any face-to-face interactions?
Working from home is rather interesting and a different experience altogether. Most of our students are adult learners and we conduct live online sessions so solving all queries in the class itself is easy. We made sure we are available on calls for our trainees during the working hours and appointment basis. We try our level best to be accessible and accommodative to our students.
How do you motivate your students to be focused in class now that the whole learning and teaching process has changed completely?
Since most of our students are women, they have additional responsibilities. In case of lockdowns, we provide extra time for submissions. Also, we believe that learning should not stop so along with live classes our trainees also have access to the recording of every session so they do not miss out on any lessons and keep going.
What platforms were you using for conducting online classes? How was your experience with this whole virtual teaching process?
We've been using Microsoft teams to interact with our students. Initially, it was a little difficult for our trainees and us to adapt to it but now it's routine. Submissions and keeping a record of the marks are way easier now. We shall be sticking to most of it post-pandemic too!
How are you helping students to develop their storytelling skills?
We have launched a program, the art of storytelling where we
empower our students to become great storytellers by learning
the key skills of storytelling i.e expressions, voice modulation, and
body language. We also teach them to create stories so they can
make any concept interesting.
Storytelling plays a critical part in any child’s overall development. The language they learn in the classroom is the tool they use to shape their thoughts and feelings. It is more than a way of exchanging information and extending ideas, it is their means of reaching out and connecting with other people. Speaking on her profession as a storyteller Mrs. Katara elaborates further “Stories are truly magical. I believe there is nothing under the sun that a story cannot teach, especially during early childhood. Stories are important for the holistic development of children since they enhance all the domains. Hence every teacher should be a good storyteller to be able to help her children reach their maximum potential while having fun”. On asking about the most fulfilling part of her job Mrs. Katara shares, “Seeing my students enjoying the learning process and mould into confident and kind teachers have so far been the most satisfying part of my profession as a teacher trainer”.
Teachers show us that learning should never be stopped and it should be ready to update with time. It’s been a year since educational institutions and teachers have stepped up to the challenge of learning and adapting to the new technology so that the students do not miss out on learning. Just like most of the adults being not the best techie Mrs. Katara too started learning and adapting the techie skills and have become quite a tech-savvy today!
Gradually we all are trying to adapt to the new normal wherein the ‘work from home' culture is changing the face of work. A teacher’s job becomes more tedious while managing her household chores and conducting online classes as well. “But certainly, balance is the key” affirms Mrs. Katara as she recollects the days when she suffered from Covid-19. “I would like to appreciate National Academy for being so understanding as when my family needed me or when I suffered from Covid. Also, my family has been very supportive in letting me concentrate on my work when I am needed here”. Giving out a message to all our readers, she concludes “Everybody has been going through crisis be as kind as you can be. Like I said this pandemic has bought challenges and challenges bring opportunities. Find yours!"
“Seeing my students enjoying the learning process and mould into confident and kind teachers have so far been the most satisfying part of my profession as a teacher trainer”.