Learning challenges under the new normal

By Gina D. Panagan

This Covid-19 Pandemic brought several changes in the education pattern in both public and private schools causing a lot of problems, sending the brain cells of learners, their parents and teachers afrenzy. To avoid students becoming super spreaders of Covid-19, instruction has become modular and online and, for the first time, learners have to be on their own without the classroom guidance of teachers. Learners have to be more independent and parents are expected to assist their children, an expectation quite difficult on the ground for a number of reasons.
Foremost, however, that teachers have to deal with are students’ anxieties. As observed by this writer who is a school head in two public elementary schools in Sablan District, in the Schools Division of Benguet, one of the main source of anxieties were the many modules assigned or to be accomplished, the understanding of which could not be monitored in real time. Teachers are rightly anxious also on this considering the low reading skills and comprehension of today’s learners compared to those of earlier generations.
Other concerns are: (a) Availability to students of the required gadgets to learn like computers, laptops or smart cell phones; (b) Lack of interest on the part of students to learn on their own; (c) Inability to understand modules written in English.
Fortunately, most public elementary teachers found ways and means to address and minimize the said learning anxieties and concerns. Luckily, as found by this writer, the parents were cooperative and understanding.
And patriotic as public school teachers had always been, the observed teachers went out of their way to communicate with the learners through online or by visiting them at appropriate times in their homes to monitor how they were coping with the challenges foisted to them by the online/modular system of instruction.
While the Covid-19 Pandemic changed many things in our way of life, we have to take comfort in that old English idiom: “Don’t cry over spilled milk. Behind every dark cloud, a silver lining.” Indeed, every adversity we face comes with a silver lining. Thus, this writer saw that the learners became more independent, parents more cooperative, and the teachers more strategic in addressing the learning anxieties of all learners and other related challenges.
With the different experiences of teachers in various circumstances it is hoped that the Department of Education leadership will cull the lessons, if not wisdom, from these and formulate more applicable coping mechanisms for everybody– the teachers, the learners, and the parents—to learn from and improve themselves.**

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