Q: How was your experience teaching during the lockdown?
A: We had classes via video calls as classes were suspended. The students had a lot of free time in their rented rooms and so I thought this was a great opportunity to review what we had learnt. In addition, I wanted to encourage them to spend time constructively and not worry excessively about being out of work. A few students went back to their hometowns but most stayed in their rented rooms in Bangkok.
Q: What were some of the challenges you faced teaching during the lockdown?
A: Immediately after the lockdown, I called each of my students. I wanted to know how the lockdown impacted their financial situation and emotional well-being. Like most people, the thought of being out of work never entered their minds. Some had to borrow to make ends meet while others received help from their friends, relatives, boyfriends or employers. No one knew how long they would be out of work or when their money would run out. The challenge was keeping their spirits up. The students were stuck in their tiny rooms all day and were told by their employers to just wait until the government lifted the lockdown.
Also, teaching and learning via video call was new to everyone. There were problems such as weak wi-fi connection, lack of knowledge on how to use video call, and picture and voice quality. More challenging was keeping them engaged during each two-hour session. Given their level of stress and anxiety, I used a lot of humour, increased the level of student participation, and made the content more interesting and lighter. To help alleviate their anxieties, I also kicked off every session by inviting each student to freely express and share their concerns or worries. This worked well for me as an ice-breaker. I really must thank my students for being so cooperative during these video sessions.