CAGAYAN DE ORO

Latip-Yusoph: Education amidst Pandemic

EDUCATION these days have become more demanding than ever. The effect of this pandemic has forced us to leap five years forward without us noticing it. Teachers in the universities have to hasten their learnings to embrace the new normal and blended learning approaches. While teachers in the elementary and secondary level opted for the modular-worksheet approach. This drastic change brought changes not only in the schools but also in the homes.

On the part of those who are using technology for teaching, this change has given us teachers the difficulty plus the challenges that our students have to endure. The digital divide among learners have widen again that only the few haves can afford to take the leap with us. The have nots are left in the darkness of survival. For my friends who do not know yet what digital divide is, here is a dose for everyone.

Digital divide is a term that refers to the gap between demographics and regions that have access to modern information and communications technology, and those that don't or have restricted access. In the place where we are, Lanao del Sur to be specific, there are places where data connections are not available or even cellphone signals. This adds up to the divide that we are talking about.

The question now will be, can we move further for our students? Can we afford to leave behind those who cannot cope with their circumstances? Personally, I have been reaching out to students, but I can only do so much for them. The infrastructure that we are needing should be made available by the people up there, the policy makers and the government. If Google is upgrading, so should we.

Nonetheless, what this leap gave me as a form of realization is that there is always silver linings in all circumstances. We, the teachers, have made ways to individualize learning. Blended learning and remote approaches to teaching paved the way for us to be more compassionate and patient in this time. We became more humane ( I hope this is true to all educators out there). When we say humane, we should understand the challenges that our students are having. We should consider the idea that we are not the only subject of our children. Demanding so much from our children does not offer learning, it is torture.

However, I am hopeful that our educational system will drastically change and will have a good Samaritan to implement our basic needs soon. Let us take my university’s online education in the early 2003 when all is well for the system to cater to the world. Had it not been to distrust and misunderstood programs, we could have been way way forward. We could have been more than ready and independent in our use of our own learning management system. This mentioning of the past is a way for me to awaken the hearts of today's leaders. We should take that experience as our lesson that before we start confusing things with distrust, let us first embrace change with an open mind and start learning more. Nothing is wrong in accepting our limitations and our need to know more. We are learners forever, remember?

We have to start helping one another. Nothing beats prioritization of what is good for our constituents. Our teachers should not be harsh on our students and to themselves. They can and should think of the load they are requiring to students. If you think you need to give your students the time to read and process all the learnings, please do so. Asynchronous learning is the best option. Synchronized communication among students is an additional merit. To me, this is the beginning of many good things if we start embracing what is new with an open perspective.

For administrators out there, we should be more compassionate, too. It is our job to monitor the efficiency and effectiveness of our teachers and instructors but we have to be sensitive of the fact that teachers are also going through these changes. The mental health of our students are as important as our teachers. We should find ways to motivate them and engage them, too, in becoming better digital teachers. There should be time too for them to recognize their stress and have the time to process them.

Meanwhile, parents have also leaped a million folds than we did. Some of the parents in the primary and elementary year levels have been so anxious about the modules that their kids are answering. Some parents are worried that they are not educated enough to assist their children in their modular activities. They do not have the skills to solve mathematical problems and comprehend science lessons and answer compound complex grammar requirements. This is why we need to be compassionate and patient enough as teachers and administrators.

Hence, as educators, we have to be the heart of knowledge. Knowing what to teach is not enough these days. Knowing what we can deliver to usher learning and at the same time provide the avenue to relax and explore this new virtual world is the necessity nowadays. We need to understand that we are in a process. One day, we will all look back and thank everyone who became so compassionate enough to usher us through. This all will pass.


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