It is early in the morning, I just finished my Subuh prayer. Suddenly, I heard my phone beeping with WhatsApp notifications from one of my students, Wawan, “Ma’am, I’m here!”, the message says. “Wawan, the class will begin at 8AM. This is only 6AM. Why don’t you come later?”, I replied with a smile while imagining his expression. Carrying out the new practice of School from Home (SFH) is not easy for my students. It is challenging even for me as a teacher.
Oh, by the way, my name is Aditya Masyitha. I teach 6th graders in an elementary school in Palu City, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began impacting Indonesia this past March, the Provincial Government of Central Sulawesi enforced the School from Home (SFH) policy. The school and the teachers had to quickly coordinate to find the best learning solution for our students, while taking into consideration the varying socioeconomic status of their families. In the end, it was decided that combined method utilizing both online and offline approaches will be applied.
I decided to experiment with various online platforms, such as WhatsApp, Line, Google Classroom, and Zoom Meeting. I also tested these platforms on my students and gathered their input. It turns out that my students find WhatsApp to be the simplest and easiest. Hence, we have decided to use that application going forward.
In one day, there are two learning sessions, and each session lasts for 1 hour and 30 minutes with a 30-minute break. Each online class is joined by 30 students, and these classes are conducted four days per week so as not to burden them with excessive internet fees.
As one would find in any class, each session begins with taking attendance of the students. The students may type messages such as “I’m here” or “Ready to learn” or even send voice notes. We then cite our prayers before commencing the session. I deliver the materials using a laptop and a smartphone, combining voice notes with texts. I also show educational pictures and videos to help them understand the learning materials. I prepare everything a few days prior to teaching. Each session is then concluded with tasking my students with homework that will contribute to their final marks.
There are many challenges that I face while practicing SFH using an online platform, from unstable internet connection to jokes students send to the chatroom, and even the difficulties we face when explaining math problems. Ultimately for me, the hardest thing is the lack of emotional connection between teachers and students because we do not physically meet.
However, I am grateful that my students are still enthusiastic to join every learning session. The support from their parents has been incredible. One of the parents even brings her child to work so that she can continue assisting her child during online learning.
So that is my story of teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, I have to begin the first session of the day. I truly hope that my students can understand the lessons I deliver so that they can grow up to become a generation that can serve and make the nation proud. Wish me luck!
Written by: Aditya Masyitha & Enos Ndapareda/ Ciptanti Putri | Illustration: Aida Rahma | Translated by: Siti Fatimah Ayuningdyah