Coping with challenges in learning under the new normal

By: Rosalie O. Abatayo - CDN Digital | August 25,2020 - 06:26 PM

new normal

Francis, 8, and Misha, 6, attend their online class at their home in Dumanjug, Cebu.

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Learning in the “new normal” has begun for students and teachers in private institutions.

Although the classes in public schools are set to open on October 5, 2020 yet, some private schools have decided to step into education delivery under the new normal in August, or for some, even earlier.

As classes are mostly carried out online, parents and teachers agree that the challenge in learning under the new normal goes beyond the strength of one’s internet connection.

Eugene Dadol is in his third year in teaching senior high school subjects in a private institution in Cebu City.

But for the 23-year-old, embarking on a  journey of teaching under the new normal seems like preparing for his first year in the  profession.

Unlike in physical classes, where he can assess how the students comprehend with the materials that he presents, Dadol said  virtual classes somehow limits the social cues for him to see if his students have absorbed his lessons.

“There are features I do, like install a plug-in that allows students to ‘notify’ me when they have a question, but it doesn’t capture all the cues that allow a teacher to spontaneously come up with techniques to adapt to the group dynamics,” he explained.

“Classroom management is not much of a risky deal if the routines were incorporated effectively. We limited the maximum students to 15 so it was easier to navigate the virtual class population. Other pedagogical aspects are not of a big problem because there are so many opportunities to transform all conventional learning processes into virtual platforms. However, it requires too much time to prepare for lessons. It feels like I prepared my subject materials all over again when I was first year in teaching,” Dadol added.

Similar to Dadol, Genesis Saquilabon, and Kimberly Mae Moral, who teach junior high school subjects in separate institutions, said both students and teachers are still starting to get the hang of the novel way of holding their classes brought by the precautions against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

While faced with the long-standing dilemma of poor internet connection, Saquilabon and Moral said they resort to upgrading connection and having a back-up plan to ensure that they will still be able to deliver their lessons.

“Mas nindot jud if face to face physically but since ma-ask man namo sila to [turn] on their cam, okay ra pod. Better than nothing, I guess,” Moral said.

(It would have been better if it were done face to face physically but since we can ask them to turn their cam on, it’s okay. Better than nothing, I guess.)

Beyond connectivity, Dadol added that technical concerns on the learning management systems used by the school could also pose a challenge in holding classes virtually.

Learning in the new normal

Former CDN Digital General Assignments Reporter Micah Sophia Marcellones, a mother of three, also shared how two of her children engage in school while being safe at home.

Marcellones and her family are living in Dumanjug town, Cebu, where her husband works. Her son, 8, and daughter, 6, are also attending a private school in the southern Cebu town.

“As much as possible I want my kids to keep learning, especially that they are in the initial reading and decoding stage. I want to give them proper education despite this trying time, and I cannot do this alone. Need na ko ang help sa atong mga teachers. Lahi ra man pud if naa interaction with teachers,” Marcellones said as she shared why she chose to enroll her children despite the pandemic.

(I need the help of the teachers. It’s different when there is interaction with the teachers.)

The 28-year-old mother is also “virtually” attending law school herself.

Her children’s school is employing online classes to supplement the modules that they need to accomplish at home.

“[The online classes are held] 2 times a week, 20-30 mins pero depende if tabian ang bata,” she said. (But it depends if the kid talks a lot.)

Aside from the unstable internet connection in their area, Marcellones said keeping her children’s focus on the lesson is another challenge to overcome.

“Knowing that they are just at home, toys ang gihunahuna. Mao na usa sa distraction nila. Another thing pud kung bag-o ang teacher and first time nila magkita online, a bit shy and awkward sa part sa bata. So it requires a lot of adjustment gyud,” she added.

“Knowing that they are just at home, toys are what they think of. That’s one of their distractions. Another thing is that if a teacher is new, and it’s the first time they see each other online, the kids feel a bit shy and awkward. So it really requires a lot of adjustment.)

Despite the challenges and the threats of the pandemic, teachers Dadol, Saquilabon, and Moral, and parents like Marcellones agree that coping with the new normal education is a two-way street.

“As a group, we always try to troubleshoot things immediately and pro-actively patch up some mishaps that might be a result of technological or pedagogical aspects. Best practices are also encouraged. I am not at all [demotivated]. I feel very challenged to come up with innovative and creative ways to implement my plans and troubleshoot challenges. In a way, this is my comfort zone because I get to explore and extract my creative juice,” Dadol said.

Saquilabon adds, “Learning really depends on the effort exerted by the students on their studies. In these trying times, teachers can do their role only that they can not touch their students. So for me, learning could happen anywhere as long as both the teacher and the students are committed. There’s no reason for demotivation.” /bmjo

Read: Councilor to Cebu City gov’t: Study how to help schools gain faster net

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TAGS: opening of classes, private schools

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