The new normal life of public school teaching

By: Angela Mikaela P. Matundan

“Gustong gusto ko na maibalik ang face to face classes. Iba ang pakiramdam ng nasa classroom ka, iba yung pakiramdam na nakakausap mo sila.”

(I really want to go back to having face to face classes. It’s different when you’re in an actual classroom. It’s different if you’re physically talking to someone.)

This was the sentiment of Teacher Dana Ghia Caoagdan, a teacher at Los Baños National High School-Poblacion (LBNHS-Poblacion), on the challenges of remote learning.  Dana is known for her passion for teaching her students with an open heart.

When lockdown in the Philippines was first declared in March 2020, social distancing measures were imposed by the government to prevent the further spread of the virus, including the closure of schools. It just passed by rapidly like everything is expected to be ready.

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted many aspects of social life, including education. It has also exacerbated the fine line between those who have access to education and those who don’t. And this line gets finer and finer as the lockdown prevails.

The New Normal of Teaching

TEACHER-FRONTLINERS. The country’s teachers are at the frontlines of the remote learning system being implemented by government. But with inadequate support, the country’s education system could suffer just like its health system.

Will students be able to experience face to face classes again? This is the chorus of the sea of thoughts playing in the minds of students and teachers.

Books that they used to flip with their fingers and scribble with their pens are now replaced with finger tapped gadgets and the internet. Staggering millions of teachers and students had their eyes pried upon laptops and smartphone screens. 

As learning remains restrained, the Department of Education (DepEd) has issued a decision to open classes on 24 August 2020.  The decision was  made   in   consideration   of   socio-economic factors, such as the avoidance of prolonged school disruption, encouraging education related-economic activity and the resumption of school-managed support systems. 

DepEd asked school institutions to lessen school activities, stating that some of the activities can be optional. The DepEd also asked schools to support the mental health and well-being of all school constituents, from teachers, to students, as well as their family. 

Flexibility

Dana said that teachers have been working tirelessly to make remote learning work to bring quality education to their students. Producing and distributing learning modules despite the risk of COVID-19 because learning materials were given late despite the urgent need of modules for the students.

Dana added that she still modifies the modules for easier understanding of students. There are also several encounters of incomplete details for certain performance-based tasks or activities.

The pandemic has also doubled the efforts of teachers to meet, not only the academic, but also the psycho-social needs of students. Thus, Dana considers deadline extensions for submissions of modules to the delight of students.

School and Family Time Management

According to Dana, one factor that affects students and their education is their time allotment between family and education. 

Dana said some of her students do not attend their synchronous meetings or open their cameras during class hours due to family matters.  

Dana also added that students tend to vent out their struggles that mostly focus on their families. Struggles of the students mostly involve household works and outside works for living.  

Student’s endeavor to submit their requirements, while others prioritize to earn even just a cent or less for their living and take the risk despite this dangerous pandemic we’re living in just to provide for their families. Hence their attention is divided and is dedicated to school work.

Dana said that parents are also struggling to support their children, which has now become an added burden to them, apart from their office work and household chores. 

She added that words of encouragement critically plays its role in this time of pandemic. Whether people prioritize family matters or academic workload, in the middle of the pandemic, encouragement can make a difference and do wonders in the outlook of life.

Weight of Academic Workload

OVERLOAD. Due to the lockdown, modules have been rushed and many academic requirements may not be appropriate for a remote learning set-up, forcing teachers and students alike to continually adjust all throughout the school year.

May mga cases na di nagkaka-igi ang estudyante pati ang teacher ng dahil sa pagka overwhelm sa requirements, kaya nagkakaroon din ng mental problems,” said *Zetric, a public senior high school student from Laguna.

(There are cases that students aren’t on good terms with their teachers because of the overwhelming requirements, it’s also a reason why there’s the build up of mental health problems.)

The feeling of dread and the never ending loop of worry are what envelopes Zetric despite his effort.

Zetric added that remote learning has its pros and cons. It may allow for the continuation of a student’s education, but on the one hand, it also poses challenges in shaking a student’s 

He also lamented that there are times that he only sleeps for less than 5 hours and his paper works reach almost 10 pages per exercise. This states that stress from academics has an effect on both academic performance, mental health and well-being of students.

From a huge wave of study workloads, activities, quizzes and examinations, students experience academic pressure as the biggest stress in their lives as a challenge posed by the pandemic.

But in spite of hardships, Zetric said that his teachers still provide learning and takes care of them well despite the hardships in this turbulent time of pandemic.

*Name has been changed for privacy

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