Nowadays, posts on Facebook about online learning is like watching a movie filled with comedy and drama.
I laughed when I saw several memes showing parents hard at work answering their kids’ worksheets in school with captions like “Sa wakas! Makakaranas na kong maging valedictorian!” , “Ang schooling ngayon, patalinuhan ng mga Nanay.”
Then, I cried when I saw the post of a daughter’s teacher who was still printing modules for her students until 12mn. There was another post asking students to be kind to her father who has already called her many times during the day because he wanted to make sure that his online class would be perfect. Both of their parents have been teachers for more than 30 years but their passion to teach has not died and embraced head-on the challenges of blended learning.
To give a clear picture of how our teachers are coping with virtual learning, I talked to seven teachers from both private and public schools who shared their struggles and small wins these days.
The October 5 opening of public schools posed a lot of difficulties for teachers. They are sacrificing their own safety since they sort and distribute modules to students putting them at high-risk of being infected with the COVID-19 virus.
Slow internet connection adds to our teachers’ frustrations. They prepare videos, powerpoint presentations only to be hampered by intermittent connection. This is also additional expenses for them. Ma’am Daisy Ocampo, for instance, spends P100 per day for wifi load. If there is a meeting after class, she buys an additional P50 worth of wifi load. She feels for parents who cannot afford to buy gadgets for their kids like one student who has two other siblings but they only use one mobile phone.
Less contact time also hampers students’ learning. Ma’am Camille Laña who teaches Math has only four hours a week of contact time with her students, hence, she can only thoroughly discuss, at most, two topics per week. She said that class participation also suffers because some students leave the virtual class because they do not want to participate.
This lack of emotional support bothers Ma’am Camille who is also a school administrator. Face-to-face classes allow teachers to get to know their students better and understand why they behave in certain ways during class. This sentiment is shared by the teachers of Ma’am Bernadette Carlos, a Department Head of MAPEH. There was news about an attempted suicide of a student for failing to submit a module on time. Stress is taking a toll on the students’ mental health and this worries teachers.
But our teachers are warriors. Several times hit during our ongoing battle with COVID-19 but they are fierce, creative, and resilient tacticians who are now at their finest hour emboldened by their love for teaching. Below are the ways they cope with online learning.
Top 10 ways of teachers to survive virtual learning
1. Create a video class
One of the master teachers of Ma’am Carlos records his class discussion and sends it to a group chat with his students so they can refer to the lessons anytime.
2. Pick a class leader
Teacher Billy chose a student leader who will take over in case he got disconnected in class. He discussed case scenarios with the student so he knows what activities should be done just in case his internet fails.
3. Practice experiential learning
Teacher Camille uses different online applications like Quizziz or Kahoot to make lessons engaging for the students.
4. Make reflection activities
To get to know her students better, Teacher Camille conducts reflection activities so students can share their experiences and problems.
5. Archive class presentations
Teacher Billy has a presentation for each class which he stores in a Google drive so his stuents can access it anytime.
Teacher Mark Atanacio and John Bianzon are always prepared for class but they are prepared for any mishaps. They are not afraid to explore a teaching strategy that has not been used before.
Teacher Camille keeps on exploring different applications that are available online. Youtube has different tutorials that help her deliver lessons better.
8. Genuine concern for students and co-teachers
These are trying times and a little kindness will always go a long way. A simple “Hi!” and “How are you today?” means a lot these days.
9. Strike a balance
While one of the teachers of Ma’am Carlos is considerate to students and allows them to miss deadlines, she is also cautious that the school requirements may pile-up and cause more problems. Teacher Camille said that students might resort to plagiarism to meet deadlines. But she said with online platforms like Turnitin, it is easy to trace plagiarized work. There must be a conscious effort to strike a balance between being a teacher-disciplinarian these days.
10. Love Yourself
Teacher Camille sums it up. While teachers put always their students’ welfare before themselves, it is important to love yourself first. One cannot refuel the students’ desire for learning if you are at the verge of giving up because of exhaustion. Rest if you need to.
This pandemic is an emotional roller-coaster ride for everyone. Let’s be kind to our teachers!