by MERILYN M. BUYOCAN
COVID-19 altered everything. 2020 was a year like no other. Everything changed. The educational system was not an exemption. It somehow suddenly altered the original landscape of learning. Instead of face-to-face learning, where students and teachers are both physically present in the classroom, learning became distant. They have to continuously convince themselves that, though they are geographically remote from each other, they exchange information, and still indeed, learning is still taking place.
Distance learning is one of the by-words of everyone especially those in the academe. Teachers are suddenly confused with emotional upheavals on how to conduct remote teaching, most especially that they need to quickly make these strategies possible and realistic given the competencies that they have to teach to the students. Everyone seems to start from scratch. Some teachers find it difficult to adjust to this new normal especially in putting their ICT skills at a higher level. Some are not tech-savvy and are hesitant to explore modern applications and software. This can be supported by studies revealing that the ICT competencies of public teachers need improvement which in turn brings a challenge to the Department of Education (DepEd). For instance, a study in 2004 revealed that only one out of seven schools had teachers who were computer-literate (Java, 2004). Also, a study conducted by Tinio (2002) found out that 75 percent of respondent schools had only 10 percent of their teachers with internet skills. These results reveal that teachers are lacking in ICT skills.
Some teachers also are full of positive vibes since their faith increased as they navigated the new realms of distance learning. They are steadfast to transfer genuine learning using their creativity coupled with their technological and pedagogical skills in teaching. They believe that learning will not stop until they are there to deliver it.
Often, teachers face an array of challenges as they reach out to the students who are not really responding to their calls and messages. Their routine now includes: cajoling students to meet deadlines after they answer all expected activities, meeting deadlines in the submission of modules or teacher-made activities, looking for lost modules submitted by parents, hearing hurtful words from parents, encouraging continuous attention of students during the synchronous and asynchronous classes. They also provide assistance to those students at risk of failing and dropping, give specific directions to students who are somewhat already “disconnected” from school since they do not respond to any form of communication and when checked are Covid-29 cases also, are undergoing quarantine in facilities, are working to help their displaced-from-work parents and some are just undergoing depression in their teen years.
Nevertheless, teachers are inspired to end their day with flying kaleidoscopic colors, hoping that their voice alone will radiate love and learning to broken souls, learners in difficult circumstances as they term them, who are struggling with this new normal brought about by this pandemic. Strengthening and supporting the emotional well-being of the students, which are seldom given attention to during traditional face-to-face learning, is the first and foremost mission of teachers nowadays aside from teaching academics.
Indeed, this destructive COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity for teachers to be in the spotlight as members of this noble profession by making the educational system tougher, wiser, and kinder than it has ever been before for the benefit of our top clients, the builders of the nation.