The term new normal has transformed into various images and scenarios in the past seven months as people worldwide try to make sense of the global health pandemic. The virus is still present, and the reality of health concerns remains a top source of anxiety for many.
In the Philippines, there has been an ongoing struggle with numerous concerns from the ongoing government responses to the pandemic, the scandal on various corruption incidents, and multiple misconducts (if you may call it) of celebrities and government officials. In today’s reflection, I would not be focusing on any of those. I would like to talk about the challenges teachers face now that we are in the midst of this global health crisis.
Transitions and Adjustments
As a teacher, I had to face the exhausting curriculum development process since the early months of the year. The previous academic year was abruptly halted as strict quarantine measures were passed to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Can you imagine teachers finding new ways to communicate with our students and still complete the local government’s requirements to complete the school year? A lot of considerations were made, and a vast online communication system had to be put in place to ensure that students are safe and are still comfortable in completing the remaining requirements for the school year.
Even teachers leaped into an unfamiliar environment. Everyone had to check on each other’s physical, emotional, and mental state. Luckily, in my experience, we were already acquainted with the use of the Google classroom, which goes the same way with our students. However, I could not picture how worried many teachers, both young and veteran, felt when they were asked to extend their work to the virtual world. It was a nerve-wracking moment, yet I think many educators did not open this concern up to their students or even colleagues in the fear that it would only lead to disastrous consequences. After all, as professional teachers, everyone is expected to take care of the student and be ready to take up any challenges that come our way.
Amidst all these new changes and the seemingly gradual acceptance of the new normal, I had to deal with that moment of uncertainty and sleepless nights to prepare for the next academic year. Many people may not be familiar with this as it seemed as though everyone got a relaxing early year break due to the extension of the quarantine.
Online teaching requires a different kind of execution, understanding, and a considerably distinct skillset which we, teachers, had to learn and practice right away. In reality, it was more tiring to think of various ways to cut down the lessons yet keep the necessary concepts and target learnings set by the Department of Education. Also, on top of all those, we have to consider possible failures and troubles both on the technical and teaching aspects of it all.
Seeing the process to the end
After facing the immense preparation needed in online teaching, I realized how it was all still worth the struggles. I have been teaching online for almost two months now, and there have been many unforeseen and even expected troubles both on the technical and personal aspects of online teaching. Yet, the students remain on top of our priority; their learning and their adjustments. Even though there may be times that problems seem to be dragging us down to the bit of disaster, we try our best to get back up.
The worry that remains now is that of the upcoming blended learning, which will be executed for the public school system. There will now be more competition when it comes to good internet services and accessibility across the Philippines.
It is not just up to the teachers, school administrations, and even the Department of Education to find ways to address the new normal learning experience. It is a task that must be addressed together with the students’ families and private institutions. However, we should not simply brush off these concerns by showcasing our resilience in times of trouble. It is high time we ask the government and the private sectors (such as the telcos) to take responsibility for resolving this educational crisis. After all, we are citizens who shared our thoughts, worries, and hopes in keeping the learning engagements of the young generation active.
There is still a lot of arguable angles that we can discuss in this matter of continuing education. I would only like to remind myself, and you who is reading, to not give up. Try to understand more the different perspectives and various social and economic struggles that our fellow Filipinos face. See their efforts in keeping up with the new educational approach amid this pandemic. Those efforts are not just a sign that this academic year is going to end in disaster. Perhaps, it is also a good opportunity to hear their sentiments. Why exactly do they exert time, resources, and passion for finishing this school year? Each one has a distinct environment, and not all are accessible to digital resources; not all have the luxury to take a gap year as a completion of one academic year is a step closer to completing the requirements that can help them see opportunities to improve their state of living. Still, it is up to you to learn about these sides of the story with all these ideas.
Now, many teachers and students worry at the start of this academic year. It is a valid emotion that must be expressed. However, I think it is also good to give it a shot and learn from the experience. Witness how the people can understand the need to ask and check on the individuals and institutions who need to take responsibility while working hard to accomplish the tasks at hand. I hope that we will not forget that as we brace ourselves for the online learning system.