Over the last 1.5 years, there's a type of fatigue that has universally crept in. It's almost as real as fatigue experienced from excessive travelling, socialising, chores or anything else. It has taken on many names - Zoom fatigue, Google Classroom fatigue, or simply, digital fatigue.

In the first edition of the Principals' Webinar hosted by Times NIE in partnership with Stones2Milestones, many crucial ways to beat digital fatigue were discussed. Mr Anjum Rajaballi, one of India's top screenwriters and screenwriting coaches, and Ms Aditi Mehta, Academic Director at Stones2Milestones, had these gems to share:

Work on a Definite, Purposeful Instructional Design

In an online setting, teachers need to do double the prep as they do in a physical classroom. There's also more scope for time lost, and one can't make up for it the same way one would in a school setting. Therefore, the lesson planning has to be extremely tight.

Reserve Time for Mindfulness and Focus Activities

Aditi gave the example of fREADom session structures, where a few minutes are devoted to mindfulness and focus activities. Students are also encouraged to move, dance, run, jump, and find an outlet. Meditation is also practised. "Your class should be one from where children gain energy, not expend it," Aditi said. This approach elevates students' attention and interest levels drastically.

Reinforce a Smart Division of Expression

Children should occupy 60% of the 'voice space' in the classroom, and teachers, 40%. Encourage this division, so more children will be less scared of asking questions and expressing themselves. Take almost every child's name at least once in the class. Make them feel seen and heard through small gestures.

Keep a Strict Length Check

Ensure that classes don't extend 40-45 mins. In an online setting, it's crucial to reduce session lengths, as children of young ages find it difficult to concentrate and sit still for long periods of time. This is also where a tight instructional design comes into play.

Introduce Mascots and Rewards for Positive Behaviour

Reward positive behaviour with fun introductions to classes such as mascots. For younger children especially, create mascots such as puppets and introduce them in the class as a way to break the monotony and appreciate good behaviour. For instance, Penny the Elephant could say hi and clap for the class if everyone is on time. Similarly, think of creative points system. At fREADom, 'kindness points' are given to the entire class to encourage positive behaviour.

Encourage Solidarity Between Teachers and Parents

Build-in regular meetings wherein the two most important sets of adults in the child’s life share feedback and learnings with each other. In the pandemic, the parent has also become more perceptive about the child's learning approach and grasping ability. There is a huge possibility that creative ideas will emerge from this healthy discussion. It will also create an outlet for both parents and teachers,.

Create Space for Purposeless Play and Imagination

Students need more time for daydreaming, for imagining. For instance, what would they draw, paint, write or share if they were to give language to their fantasies? Such unstructured and 'purposeless' time gives a release and much-needed stimulation. It makes your class something that children will then look forward to. Unlike what many would assume, this could also improve their productive study time.

This article is a part of a two-part series from the webinar with Mr. Anjum Rajaballi and Ms. Aditi Mehta.

Read Part 2 here: 'The Pandemic is an Incredible Pilot on Bridging the Learning Gap'.