Jap Tobias (Philstar.com) / 02:50 PM February 09, 2021
Almost a year since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Filipino educators continue to navigate the “new normal,” searching for the best methods to make online learning work for their students.
It cannot be denied that this could be one of the most challenging times for teachers not just in the Philippines but all around the world.
Amid the challenges, our teachers manage to make the best out of the situation and continue to give the gift of education—at a time it is needed the most.
In fact, the realities of online teaching have resulted in realizations and learnings that no lesson plan could ever cover. Here, six Filipino teachers share their stories after almost a year of online teaching:
Turning obstacles into an opportunity
There were a lot of questions when online education was pushed. Not only was it a question of providing the right tools to students, but also a question of equipping our teachers with the right skills to facilitate online learning.
But these questions did not stop the dedication of educators like Veronica Libunao of Kalayaan Elementary School. For her, as difficult as this pandemic might be, it still presents opportunities for teachers to improve and develop their craft.
“One lesson I’ve learned is to embrace the new normal. I’ve learned to turn the impossibilities to opportunities—opportunities to learn new great things, chances to enhance my knowledge, and opportunities to find our unseen abilities,” she said.
“Our setup now is harder than the normal class before but little did we realize that we are getting into it. I’m not just embracing the new normal but more so the learnings that I will surely keep for the rest of my life as an educator,’’ she added.
Libunao has been using online classroom platform ClassIn and according to her, it has greatly helped her adjust to the new normal mode of teaching.
“At first, we were not ready with online classes because we do not know where and how to start. But because of the effort given by our Department of Education, because of the webinars and training we attended, and to all the applications and sites like ClassIn that helped us, we did it and are still fighting until now,” she said.
Teachers are never too old to learn
The pandemic also tested our educators’ adaptability when they had to replace their usual teaching set-up of chalk and blackboard with webcams and headphones.
For Lyza Jane Lagura of The Eastbridge School, online teaching has taught Filipino educators something that they could carry on for the rest of their careers—teachers are never too old to learn.
“Many teachers might say that they couldn’t keep up with the changes of the world especially in terms of technology but that is not true at all. We should never limit ourselves as an educator to set an example for our learners,” Lagura said.
As difficult as it may get, teachers find it somewhat easier with features and trainings that online tools such as ClassIn provides.
‘’It’s very appropriate for online learning. Even us teachers, we’ve learned a lot that there are still a lot of things we can improve on and do more in online classes to help students during this time,” she said during the awarding ceremony of 2020 Philippines Online Teaching Exhibition Series organized by ClassIn.
“If we are really dedicated to what we do as teachers, we will push through no matter how rough and tough the changes can get. We are never too old to keep learning,” she affirmed.
Mental health matters
Teachers are truly noble heroes, but they are humans too.
Between the unpredictability of the current circumstances, isolation from colleagues and the newfound challenges in reaching their students, teachers were caught with emotional challenges that affected their mental health.
This, for Jelly Matchubar, a private school teacher, is a reality. It is also a reminder that it is okay for teachers to take a moment to look after their personal well-beings.
“Everyone is at a loss at the moment. I think the most important lesson I’ve had is valuing my mental health. I’ve heard a lot about teachers breaking down and giving up because they have too much on their plate and I feel sorry for them,” she said.
As a way to support and give back to her fellow teachers, Matchubar revived her Youtube channel, Teacherella Diaries.
Her message to them is that they are not alone in all these adjustments. She also started a training series that aims to help them cope with the shift to online learning.
Teaching is not just a profession, it’s a passion
As they say, it would need passionate teachers to create passionate learners. So imagine how much more passionate teachers had to be, to make education interesting and engaging?
For Rudelyn Charize Salina of Light Bearer Christian Academy, the important lesson she learned in this “new normal” is that teaching is never easy no matter how many years you have been doing it already. More importantly, it takes a ton of passion to fully embrace the craft of inspiring students.
“The important lesson I have learned as an educator, especially now that we shift into online teaching, is that teaching is not as easy as learning as learning A-B-C and it requires so much time, patience, dedication and love in order to share information and help molding one’s life,” she said.
“I’ve learned that not all students are the same, but we have to cope with their similarities and differences. We need to have an open mind and an understanding heart for the,” she advised.
Embrace uncertainty, face your fears
For Beatriz Ann Palla of Place of Discovery School, who is in her first year of teaching, the sudden shift to online class has really challenged the best of her that it almost made her quit teaching.
“How will I get my students who are in Kindergarten to focus and listen to me through a screen, knowing that children of that age have a short attention span? That was my biggest concern. I started to think of quitting because it was really hard. It was hard. It was tiring. It was draining the life out of me. This shift to online learning was hard for everyone, not just for teachers but for the students as well,” she revealed.
But no matter how she has been tested, she persevered to prove that the first step in overcoming these struggles is facing them.
“My greatest lesson in this situation is that fear of change will do me nothing because change is constant, it will always be there and the only way to conquer my fear of change is to face it head-on and that is what I did,” Palla said.
Online tools such as ClassIn has also helped Palla easier for her and her co-teachers to facilitate engaging and interactive online classes.
“I am beyond grateful that my school decided to use Classin as its platform for online classes because it has plenty of features that helped engage my students in online class to participate and interact during my lessons. Also it is easy to use as well, it made preparing for online classes a breeze,” she shared.
Patience really goes a long way
Dealing with playful students is one of the daily struggles of teachers in a usual classroom. But with online classes, teachers are faced with new tests of patience, like internet connection problems, audio issues and other technical glitches.
This is why Lieza Nierva of First Uniting Christian School believes that patience is truly a virtue worth having, most especially now.
“If there is one thing I learned as an educator with the sudden shift to online learning is patience. Patience with the lesson preparation and patience towards my student that interaction was really a challenge comparing it with face to face learning,” she said.
As someone who has been teaching for 12 years already, patience is something Nierva may have already developed. But with new challenges coming along, she had to learn patience the second time and embrace it more than she ever did before.
ClassIn supports Filipino teachers
Being a Filipino educator in a time of pandemic is not easy and teachers deserve all the recognition for their hard work in these trying times.
Last January 12, ClassIn, an online classroom platform, recognized and celebrated the efforts of 30 teachers who have stood the best among the participants of the 2020 Philippines Online Teaching Exhibition Series.
The exhibition series is a partnership between ClassIn and Oxford University Press to train Filipino teachers and give them the opportunity to showcase their ability to deliver informative and interactive lessons online.
As online education is seen to stay even after the pandemic, ClassIn aims to provide teachers with an engaging platform that would make online education worth pursuing.
Aside from its advanced interactive platform features, ClassIn is also committed to provide teachers with the best skills and practices they can continue to use even after the pandemic ends.
But aside from recognition, our teachers deserve all our support as it is not easy to make education work in a time of pandemic. More than ever, they need us to be behind their backs and support them as they equip not only batches of young learners, but also a generation of survivors.