Teaching in the midst of CoVid: Quo vadis, teachers?

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PICTURE OF HARD WORK. This photo of public school teacher Jezza Claire Vitorino that she uploaded in her FB page gave a glimpse of the life of a teacher in between breaks.  Now they are faced with a new challenge: How to teach a whole class of 40+ students with limited technology. | Photo printed with permission by Jezza Vitorino
PICTURE OF HARD WORK. This photo of public school teacher Jezza Claire Vitorino that she uploaded in her FB page gave a glimpse of the life of a teacher in between breaks. Now they are faced with a new challenge: How to teach a whole class of 40+ students with limited technology. | Photo printed with permission by Jezza Vitorino

(First of three parts)

Earlier last month, public school teacher Jezza Claire Vitorino posted a photo of herself cleaning and scrubbing the floor of her classroom to get it ready (just in case the education department changes its mind again and decides to push through with face-to-face classses).

The picture did not exactly go viral, but it did give a glimpse – no matter how small – of what teachers are doing when they are not checking papers, making lessons, and dealing with 50-plus pupils all bawling for attention.

Now, the CoViD pandemic has created an added layer of complexity for the academe especially with parents getting all anxious over the face-to-face mode of learning.

“What of our kids?” they ask.

The Department of Education, after much hawing and hemming, finally relented and decided that face-to-face learning should have to wait, that for the sake of the kids’ safety, the teaching-learning process should be done with very minimal or even no physical contact.

There was a mad scramble in private schools to prep for any purely-digital eventuality.

For the likes of Jezza, it means an overhaul of what they have learned about tradition teaching methods. Or at very least, a suspension of tried-and-tested methods.

PRE-PANDEMIC PICTURE

Before the pandemic, teachers have a routine – sort of. During summer, public school teachers still have to come up with voluminous reports that have to checked by the principal and District Supervisor, who would then forward these to the Division Office.

The teacher could take a two-week vacation only after these reports have been cleared of any discrepancies, then back to work by first of May for that grand tradition they refer to as Brigada Eskwela.

There is not much relaxing to do, long-time public school teacher Maritez Gonzalez tells DNX as she paints a picture of what public school teachers usually do.

Apart from preparing the school for the new academic year, the public school teachers take the role of students – soaking up trainings and seminars on new strategies in teaching the 21st century learner (apparently, strategies change every year).

It’s a cycle, Maritez says, and like all cycles, it never ends; it’s repetitive, it’s routine, with changes that range from slight – like re-tooling seminars for tech upgrades – to overhaul (think K-12 which practically removed huge chunks of the curriculum, pruned the higher years, and added two more years to high school).

And now the pandemic.

Teachers had hardly been given room to breath when the original curriculum was re-worked into K-12 when CoVid struck, forcing established structures to re-adjust, adapt to changes, adopt new conventions, relearn fresh strategies – and implement these within two months or less.

Teachers are expected to learn an entirely new philosophy, indeed, an entirely new culture at breakneck speed.

It’s like giving passengers a swimming module while the ship is sinking – and pray that they don’t drown.

(Next: Next, we will determine how the teachers are coping, and the uncertainty they face now.)

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