Sr Pauline Trim CHF teaches at the St Theresa Girls’ RC School in Woodbrook. She teaches second-year infant students.
As a religious sister, she enjoys teaching Religious Instruction daily. “This gives me the opportunity to assist with my pupils’ faith development.”
Sister described the shift from in-person teaching to virtual teaching as challenging. However, she has used creative ways to ensure that her students can continue on their learning journey: “I use YouTube videos to teach content.”
In addition, she ensures that they have “special days for bonding as a class”. For example, students were allowed to dress and model in Indian attire for Divali. Students will also participate in a Christmas prayer service, dramatise Little Red Riding Hood, and will also have the opportunity to do something special during the Carnival season.
Sister believes that her students are coping well during the pandemic. At the same time, “they express a desire to be with their friends at school”. They are making use of virtual learning at home. Some of her students accompany their parents to work while others are left at daycare.
Teaching virtually has given Sr. Pauline a great opportunity to learn more about technology. “I learned more skills in using the computer than in my entire career.” Pre-pandemic times, she would have used her computer as a typewriter to prepare her test papers but online teaching has helped her to discover some of the advantages of using technology. “I intend to continue using these skills when I go back to face-to-face teaching.”
Although Sister acknowledges the advantages of teaching virtually, she is also aware that there are a few disadvantages. “As a teacher in the infant department, I cannot ensure that my pupils are learning the proper formation of letters and numbers.” Also, she is not really sure that the work that is being submitted by her students is their work or if they are being given assistance by the adults who are looking after them. She also has difficulty looking at the computer screen.
Sr Pauline’s advice to teachers and students who are struggling emotionally: “I try to cater for the all-round development of my pupils by including Physical Education and the Arts: music, dance, art, and craft. When I see my pupils becoming restless, I let them have a brain break. The emotions are tied to our mental and physical health. Therefore, people must be encouraged to take care of all aspects of their being: body, mind, and spirit.”
Her message of hope to parents who think that their children are being deprived of receiving a proper education during the pandemic: “Children are resilient and people also learn through different methods. Find the way that your child learns by doing an online quiz that will help to determine the child’s learning style and ensure that the child’s teacher and you cater for his or her learning style.”