The act of synchronisation

The act of synchronisation

Making a video is not easy

This academic year has been both unusual and unfortunate. When schools closed down in March, educators optimistically believed that they would return to the workplace a few weeks later. They soon realised that this was an illusory expectation. There was not even a glimmer of the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Undaunted by this bleak scenario, teachers bid farewell to tried-and-tested techniques and successfully employed innovative methods of imparting instruction.

During these past several months, teachers have discovered latent skills that they (especially older members of the fraternity) probably never knew they possessed. They have reached out to students in a variety of ways, notably through videos. In fact, teachers have displayed remarkable prowess in using this means of communication, to facilitate learning.

My duties as a longstanding English teacher entail watching the videos of my colleagues, who teach that subject at the primary level. I do a thorough check before they are posted, so that mistakes (chiefly glaring ones) can be rectified. While my intervention is undoubtedly beneficial, I dislike picking out errors. I know that if they are to be set right, the video that has been so painstakingly prepared will have to be redone just as diligently.

Not an easy task

At the risk of stating the obvious, let me affirm that making a video is not easy. In the space of a few minutes, a segment of the syllabus has to be comprehensively covered. Care must be taken to make the presentation visually attractive, with colourful graphics to hold the attention of young, easily distracted, viewers. Videos should also have aural appeal. Frequent variations in the teacher’s tone are obligatory rather than optional. 

Slip-ups in style or/and substance are often caused by the nervousness which teachers, quite naturally, experience during recording sessions. For instance, one of my colleagues inadvertently blurted out ‘foods items’. Subsequently, she kept saying ‘food items’ throughout the lesson, in the hope that her former lapse would be forgotten. Another teacher who pronounced ‘drought’ correctly in one video got it wrong in another. Teachers have told me that they listen to themselves over and over again until they are satisfied. This could continue late into the night, a time best-suited, perhaps, to a task requiring silent surroundings. Weary after hours spent tackling routine chores, it is quite a task to bring out flawless videos, with explanations and enhancements smoothly synchronised. 

Expression of gratitude

It is every teacher’s wish that adults watching along with their children should understand these problems. Fortunately, many parents realise that it is unrealistic to expect perfection. Recently, a father expressed his gratitude to his daughter’s teacher in these words: ‘Pause a moment and realise that what you are doing matters. It matters not only to the students you teach today, but also to those of the future. You are part of a large-scale systemic change and are making history.’ 

This morale-boosting message was a source of encouragement not only to the class teacher of one section of Class 1 (for whom it was mainly meant) but for all of us at school. Of course, we do get our share of not-so-constructive criticism. Among other things, some people find our accents unpleasing. Since we are not native speakers of English, our speech could invite comment but should not evoke contempt. In these difficult days, teachers can do with appreciation, not least for the enormous effort that goes into creating videos.

(The writer is a senior English teacher based in Bengaluru)