September 30, 2021
by James Leonard M. Bautista
How are our teachers?
Amidst the pandemic still ravaging the education sector, teaching and learning innovation continue to bloom. Both students and parents have escalated their everyday concerns and struggles with the platform being utilized by different schools in delivering what was considered as “inventive, flexible methods” of engaging students’ learning needs. However, the word resiliency has been overly used in the so-called “inspirational message’ for our teachers to sustain their drive and continue serving faithfully and passionately.
The transformation mindset that became the goal of such sector to grasp full blast of the benefits of the new normal way of the teaching-learning experience still chokes the educators as finances, manpower, and the resources became the hindering factor on why it’s still an idea on a dormant state. Efficiently migrating from the face-to-face setup techniques to a completely online format pulls the quality of educators delivering utmost knowledge to the students and the students themselves in processing the maximum learning experience like that of the in-face classes.
News about the education sector’s series of budget cuts, personnel hiring decline, compensations and assistances delayed have surfaced which created tension and made the citizens alarmed for such an act for both the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education. The biggest question that also matters for this time,
“How are our teachers?”
“Am I audible, class?”
“We’ll have a graded recitation – – – several participants got disconnected”
“Who would like to answer? . . . . *cricket sounds”
A minute or two of complete silence really gives a huge impact on the flow of interaction between the teacher and the students as the purpose of the ‘maximized teaching-learning experience’ gets defeated. The common “AFK” scenario (“Away from Keyboard”, a term used in the online setup where one is present on the session but physically not) somewhat delays the limited time given for a specific class session. These are just a few among the everyday scenario that our teachers encounter whenever they hold classes online. In an article from Reshan Richards and Stephan Valentine of the “A Letter to Educators Teaching Online” where they represented all educators with the common struggles they experience from Day 1 up until today, have stressed that they are constantly being reminded that their job to continuously attain a stable interaction with every single learner;
“Connect to people and help them feel connected to me and to that dimension of the world I am leading them to experience.” I need to “connect my students to one another in a way that enables them not only to learn from one another but also to catch life experiences from one another — to shape one another in the way that only peers can. It’s that simple… and it’s that complex.”
The challenge of being constantly brewed to the minds of every educator must remain accepted upfront – to master the fundamentals up to the complexities, though banged with troubles in exploring, becomes an essential skill that is being learned vigorously and fast-paced. From basic encoding, editing, uploading, downloading, reviewing, managing, and other processes really became a requirement in order just to realize the “transformation mindset” that this country’s administration is requesting for our teachers to adopt. Everyone, even the already skilled, faced different extent on their learning curves.
An interview with some educators that have completely immersed themselves in the online way of teaching washed down the so-called colorful and glittery “progressive” state of our education to its truest color.
Julius Segovia, a college instructor currently teaching subjects in communication, specifically Journalism Principle, Visual Journalism, Multimedia, etc. in four different universities hits the current state of our education sector with unfiltered reality.
“You need to prepare and finish all the modules for the entire semester before the classes get started,”
he stated as the only days in making a lesson plan to be utilized for his class before the pandemic did not take him away, way longer now that he has to adjust the pace of the discussion as schedules on the classes being held online is squeezed.
Meanwhile, Melanie Moreno, also a secondary journalism teacher, finds a hard time adjusting and compressing the lessons in a way that the syllabus can be covered but will not put extreme pressure on her learners.
“Preparing lessons during this pandemic is way more challenging than before since the concern is not just limited to making sure that the learning will be transferred to the learners, but also to making sure that this is actually delivered to them,”
as she also has pointed out how delivering the materials sometimes becomes her problem for it must be ensured that it arrives intact to the learners.
R-Jay Cayton, teaching in an Alternative Learning System (ALS) class, on the other hand, raises his concern on the application of students to their respective jobs on the said curriculum also became problematic up until today even if establishments have slowly reopened.
“The planning part is complex now since classes are online. My audio-visual materials, camera, and microphone need to be tested at least two days before my actual class. Before, it was a day before because I just needed to prepare my visual aids”.
On the challenges brought by the conduct of classes online, all interviewees as well as the institution they represented share the same sentiments as it becomes rampant and hardly manageable to their end. “Students are not required to open their camera because it consumes bigger bandwidth. With this, I am not sure if I am really talking to my students or I am just doing my monologue during class discussions,” Segovia pointed out. While some schools resorted to the modular method, the “flexible method” where both online and modular was adopted as it was requested individually by both students and parents – elevated their confusion.
“Not all families can actually afford the expenses of securing a stable Internet connection). The Internet stability in our country is also really challenging, aside from the fact that the teacher’s presence in the process of learning is actually compromised. Limited teacher presence affects the learning of the students according to studies,”
Moreno has said in relation to the internet connectivity that long been our country’s problem even before the pandemic had started. “Even before the opening of classes, my learners and I have been engaging in different online projects. We struggled at first. As time went by, we were able to establish an organized system, though, only using FB and Messenger, which are accessible even without Internet data compared to other educational applications available nowadays which require Internet access,” she added.
In the end, amidst the obstacles that initially stumbled their methods of adapting, utilizing what errors they have met along the way led them all to a realization; that even if the education sector will transition to the “new, better normal”, the methods that were adopted during the pandemic will also come to a transition were every single innovation will again be faced, be innovated and dressed appropriately on every student’s needs, and will give ease and efficiency to the educators.
“How will our teachers be seeing the newer face of our education?”
“I hope students would realize that they should work hand in hand with their teachers for the pursuit of online classes. Ika nga, kailangang magtulungan para maisakatuparan ang lahat ng ito. Hindi biro ang blended learning approach sa mga bata. In the same way, challenge din ito para sa mga guro, especially sa mga hindi techie,” Segovia wrapping his statement. “With careful planning, honest, and realistic feedback for processing, I believe that education will still push through effectively. It just takes adaptability and synergy, as life should not end with the virus. It should rather open broader and more positive possibilities without compromising the precious lives of our teachers, students, and other stakeholders,” Moreno somewhat shedding light on how she will be handling herself during our education’s transitioning period. Meanwhile, Cayton reminds his student that age nor their condition will not hamper the success waiting ahead of them, “I hope my students would value themselves more, so they can dream bigger for themselves because education promotes equity.”
“How are our teachers?”
It’s a question that we need to raise constantly as they take a huge part in building a stronger community of well-educated, globally competitive professionals when the time of the “transitioning” commences – serving as the backbone itself to every learner pursuing their dreams. With the hope of generating proficient citizens, the people administering the education sector must now realign its lenses in including teachers as their main priorities as well: to be well-compensated, rightfully treated, nurtured, and given importance. How our teachers today, will impact our tomorrow.