I HAPPEN to like a documentary television series on Discovery Channel since 2010. This show has been going on for almost two decades. Each episode featured the details of manufacturing common everyday items like clothing and accessories, industrial products, musical instruments and even food. From aluminum foil to toothpicks to solar panels to zippers to flour to cosmetics and almost anything you could think of, were explained and expounded. Thus, the title "How It’s Made."
My mind went astray when I think about the current situation we are all in. This mayhem...this confusion...this misunderstanding...this chaos...this pandemic wherein everyone has more unspecific questions than accurate answers. Can we make another "How It’s Made" episode out of it? Apparently, the answer is bleak for now.
A lot of my friends and acquaintances are asking what could happen to classrooms in the “new normal”? What will be the mode of learning delivery? Are we ready for online classes? Do we have enough online and offline learning materials? Are our teachers and school officials prepared? What will be the teaching strategies and the assessment to be used? These and more questions are being thrown in our workplace every day. Well, couldn’t blame them enough since I happen to belong to the country’s main agency tasked to manage and govern the educational system.
I worked in this agency which is mainly responsible for ensuring access to, promoting equity in, and improving the quality of basic education. As articulately stated in our Vision: We dream of Filipinos who passionately love their country and whose values and competencies enable them to realize their full potential and contribute meaningfully in building the nation. Further, our Mission dictates us: To protect and promote the right of every Filipino to quality, equitable, culture-based, and complete basic education where:
Students learn in a child-friendly, gender-sensitive, safe, and motivating environment.
Teachers facilitate learning and constantly nurture every learner.
Administrators and staff, as stewards of the institution, ensure an enabling and supportive environment for effective learning to happen.
Family, community, and other stakeholders are actively engaged and share responsibility for developing life-long learners.
You might ask, “Are all these possible and attainable?” We submit to the fact that Covid-19 has changed the landscape of education. We have been setting educational reforms. We have moved from “training and development” to “learning and development.” We have metamorphosed teachers as “source of information” to “filters of information”...from competency based performance appraisal to results-based performance management...but not one of us had prepared for this to happen.
As I recall the documentary “How It’s Made” allow me to capsulize insights on “How It’s Like” in the new normal.
The “How It’s Like” episode I would be presenting might answer this question: How ready are we for the new normal? For a start, I would like to share the plan of actions which is our respond for education in times of crisis. These notes are taken from the presentation of Dr. Leila Areola, Director IV of the Bureau of Learning Delivery. Our plan of actions include the following but are not limited to: mapping out all learning resources giving consideration to the context and types of learners; aligning learning materials with curriculum standards; utilizing ICT systems and other available media like television and radio; capacitating school officials and teachers who are knowledgeable in the design and execution of various non face-to-face learning delivery options; orienting learners and parents about the different approaches in gaining access to learning resources and communicating with teachers; ensuring a safe and conducive learning environment and tapping other stakeholders to ensure quality delivery of distance education and/or blended learning.
Our “How It’s Like” scenario also considers the following factors: access; conditions/situations; readiness and availability of resources. Nothing gets done overnight. No one gets is done all by himself or herself. Not one had this coming. Yet we must run and continue the show.
As I take you further to “How It’s Like” you might ask this question: “What could a relevant and responsive learning delivery look like?” Given the different contexts and situation of all schools in the entire country, the Department of Education shall provide a menu of learning delivery options. These include among others Face to Face, Blended Learning, Distance Learning, TV/Radio-based Instruction and Home Schooling.
Let me elucidate on these types of learning deliveries one by one. Face-to-face learning refers to a learning environment where the learners and the teacher are physically present in the classroom with opportunities for active engagement, collaborative activities and immediate feedback.
The traditional face to face is proposed to be used in areas where physical classes will be allowed but social distancing measures will be strictly observed.
Distance Learning refers to a learning option where learners engage in independent learning by using educational materials that are accessible online, in digital format, or in printed form while being geographically distant from the teacher. Relatively, Distance Learning has three types: Modular Distance Learning, Online Distance and TV/Radio-Based Instruction.
Modular Distance Learning shall utilize Self-Learning Modules (SLMs) in print or in digital format through offline Interactive E-books, while TV/Radio-Based Instruction shall utilize the SLMs converted to video lessons for Television-Based Instruction and SLMs converted to radio script for Radio-Based Instruction.
Online Distance Learning uses various technologies accessed to the internet. The SLMs will be uploaded in DepEd Commons and other recognized learning management systems like Edmodo, Google Classroom, Moodle, Schoology and other open educational resources.
In comparison, the Radio-Based Instruction utilizes the local community and other modes of broadcast. Learning modules are converted into radio scripts for public broadcast. As a form of distance learning, it is able to expand access to education by bringing it to where the learners are.
Another type of learning delivery is Blended Learning. This modality uses a combination of the features of the face-to-face (f2f) learning and distance learning, either f2f and Modular Distance Learning, f2f and Online Distance Learning or f2f and TV/Radio-based instruction. Modular Learning will be proposed in areas where schools remain closed. Another option being considered is Homeschooling. It is a flexible learning option with considerations on learners who are unable to attend school but have someone or parents who are capable of delivering instruction.
I know your thoughts would still wander as you wonder on the proposed class structure for the incoming school year which will open on August 24, 2020 as stated in DepEd Order No. 7, s. 2020 “School Calendar and Activities for School Year 2020-2021.” Here’s a glimpse of the Proposed Class Structure in Cagayan de Oro as presented by Schools Division Superintendent Dr. Cherry Mae L. Limbaco, CESO V during the 4th Regional Management Committee Video Conference held last May 4, 2020:
* Blended Learning for Kindergarten -- Classes will be divided into 2 groups to strictly observe social distancing. Each group will be limited to 10-12 learners only with classes conducted 3 days a week for 2 hours. The proposed schedule would be the following: Monday – Face to Face, Tuesday –Activity sheets shall be provided, Wednesday – Performance Task/Oral Examination, Thursday – Home-based with SLMs, Friday – Home-based with SLMs.
* Blended Learning for Grade 1 and 2 – Classes will be divided into 2 sets. It will be 2.5 days of direct instruction(face to face) from Monday to Wednesday morning and 2.5 days Home-based with SLMs from Wednesday afternoon to Friday.
* Blended Learning for Grade 3 to Grade 12 – Classes will still be divided into 2 groups. There will be 2 days of direct instruction and 3 days Home-based with SLMs. Learners will be given 3 worksheets per learning area, per day.
* Unified Offering for Grade 11 and establishment of Simulation Centers for learners enrolled in the TVL track for Grade 12.
Along with these proposed modalities and structure, planned interventions are also in place which include the following: a.) There shall be a maximum of 15 learners per class. b.) Annual Procurement Plan (APP) shall be amended. More budget shall be allotted for reproduction of activity sheets. c.) Teachers shall teach from Monday to Thursday. On Friday, they shall prepare lessons and check learner’s outputs. d.) Teachers and administrators shall be capacitated through webinars and online trainings, and e.) Classrooms will be restructured to strictly follow social distancing protocols if ever face to face classes are conducted.
All these plans and proposals are being considered... from learning delivery to modality to class structure to class size to trainings to adjusting financial plans. Some might happen...some are still uncertain to happen.
We are ready but we are not ready for the uncertainties brought daily by this pandemic. Quarantine rules could loosen up or might get even more tight. Yet, as we leave our workplace and seal another day of challenges and opportunities, we always bear in mind that nothing is final until everything is clear. So much has to be considered especially the recommendations from the Inter Agency Task Force for the Management of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) Situation. Guidelines can change, plans may be altered, standards can be modified or enhanced...that is really “How It’s Like” for now.
Bear with us once more as we keep on exploring...as we adhere to the ever changing landscape this pandemic has brought us. DepEd Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones along with other key officials have exhausted much effort in coping up with this situation. Regional Directors and Superintendents waste no time in planning and looking for better options. Competencies are reviewed where the most essential are given primary consideration. Contextualized activity sheets are in progress.
The enrolment system has been modified. All the best...we only want the best even in this worst situation. For Cagayan de Oro, it should only be the best for the 5, 209 teaching and non teaching personnel where 4,716 of whom are teachers. Nothing but the best for our 91,544 elementary learners, 37,908 junior high students and 7,650 senior high school learners in the public schools. (data from Learner Information System)
As Martin Luther King Jr. puts it “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Hail to all our leaders who never stopped working round the clock as we position and brace ourselves for a real feel of “How It’s Like.” When the smoke clears and we can finally cross the bridge, that could be the best time to feel and acclaim this is “How It’s Like.”