Esma Şahiner is among thousands of teachers striving to cope with an entirely new concept: remote education. Confined to her home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to the closure of schools, the middle school teacher found creative ways to engage with her students during class despite the distance. “The only way they see me is through a small screen. I have to be as much interactive as I can,” Şahiner said.
Sitting behind her laptop every day in her home’s kitchen, science teacher Şahiner endeared herself once again to dozens of students with her innovative ways of teaching science. A fridge next to her table serves as her “blackboard” while building blocks belonging to her two children are inscribed with the names of elements on the periodic table.
Schools ended their first semester last week, and Şahiner looks forward to reuniting with her students when schools reopen next month, hopefully for in-person education. “I miss them so much. They used to hug me. I miss that light in their eyes when they comprehend whatever subject I talk about in the classroom,” she told Anadolu Agency (AA).
The teacher, who works at Süleyman Şah Middle School in the capital Ankara’s Sincan district, said this “is the best education I can give them under current circumstances.” Remote education may linger based on current trends in the pandemic, but the Ministry of National Education is hopeful, saying in-person education will likely return, as long as health authorities greenlight it. Though cases have been inclined to fall in recent days, experts warn that dropping the guard in adapting to measures may lead to a new wave of cases.
A teacher of 15 years, Şahiner has been experiencing remote education for the first time, like her students. She had trouble adapting to it, but it did not take her long to convert online education into an interactive experience for her students.
“My class needs more demonstrations than other subjects. I had to find something to draw students’ attention. I had my 5-year-old son’s building blocks and wrote the signs of elements on them to teach the periodic table,” she said.
Instead of getting a blackboard, she decided to use the nearest white, large spot instead: the surface of her fridge. “When explaining the subject of pressure, I use my son’s Jenga game. His small footballs were also useful. I drew symbols of elements on them and played a guessing game with my students,” she said.
Her students enjoy her innovative methods, too, thanks to the comfort of being at home. “I tell them to bring materials we can use in science experiments, like water, glasses, paper. Experiments help them learn better,” she said.