What comes into our minds when we hear the word ‘New Normal’?

“Maaaring marami tayong mga pangamba sa pagharap sa bagong hamon ng edukasyon sa Pilipinas”.

There are various things that are happening around the globe. Lots of uncertainties, confusions and fears. At the moment, people who were infected by the pandemic (COVID-19) are dramatically increasing and the Philippines is facing a very challenging task.

This I believe has been one of the most difficult challenges that we should conquer, something that we should thrive and that is in terms of ‘educating Filipino students with the use of technology, its sustainability and efficiency.’

Distance learning is the solution in the emerging need that schools, administrators and educators should highly consider and must be given a high priority.

Technology as an important tool for distance learning.

Information Technology as Merriam-Webster defines it as:

  • Is the technology involving the development, maintenance, and use of computer systems, software, and networks for the processing and distribution of data.

“Malaki ang kontribusyon na dulot ng pag gamit ng mga computers, Wireless Fidelity (WiFi), cellphones, iPads and other forms of gadgets sa pagkakaroon ng epektibo at mabisang kaparaanan sa pagtuturo lalo pa nga na ang traditional classes (face-to-face) won’t happen soon”.

The Department of Education (DepEd) states that students might be back to school in August but President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated that students will not be back to school any moment not unless a vaccine/antidote will be available in the market for the mean time just let them play and let them stay at home.

In my humble opinion, there should be a proper revision and review in the educational system in the Philippines.

Philippines should not observe summer holidays (April and May) but holidays should be in the months of July and August — for these are monsoon seasons, many people who live in crowded cities like NCR is always facing flooding houses and roads. In fact, schools were also forced to close and major transportations were halted.

Well, going back to the topic.

Staying at home is something that people are not used to.

For we are meant to socialize, to work (to make a living), we want to engage in making our businesses to prosper, we want to entertain and seek comfort at spa, KTVs and the like.

When we are tired after a long, and stressful day of work and pressures of life, we want to go to malls, eat at our favorite restaurants or go to Jollibee and eat the delicious Chicken Joy and Palabok (now, I’m getting hungrier by just imagining these foods. Haha).

Every midweek and Sunday, we want to attend churches, hear a preaching and meet our churchmates.

These mass gatherings that have shown us the significance and the real value of being a human being, by not being a man on an island. Unfortunately, it seems that all of these won’t be back to the normal, the real normal that we were used to for so many, many years.

A famous quote stated that:

“Accept the things that you can’t change, have the courage to change the things you can and have the wisdom to know the difference.”

How would this quote affect us ‘educators’ in our perspective towards distance learning in the Philippines?

Accepting the things, you can’t change – the virus is there, it’s everywhere and many people are scared and the rising number of infected cases in the Philippines are very alarming.

Schools are closed. The education as a very meaningful tool to fight against illiteracy, poverty and oppression is hampered and millions of people are struggling to obtain it especially in these crucial times.

We can complain against the government, we can be very pessimistic about everything but these won’t change the current situation and in fact, it would even create a more damaging effect towards others especially when our rude opinions will be aired through social media.

Ms. Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach once said “You need to think before you click”.

So, what should I do?!

Well, be courageous and be willing to go out of your comfort zone. Walk an extra mile.

Being an educator, we must not cease to learn, we have to always seize every good opportunity, have the teachable heart and our feet should be at least two steps forward.

Having the courage to change the things you can – distance learning is not a usual thing for the Philippines. Because of the economic condition of most the marginalized Filipinos. Many would say that they should prefer to spend their money on food, clothing and medicine than to invest in internet and latest gadgets.  

Online Learning is not something that would come on the top of the minds of many parents, young minds and professionals of our country.

In fact, there are only few Universities and Colleges that offer a 100% pure-based online learning education but because of the vital need for the future lies in our dependence to science and technology.

I firmly believe that everyone should be acquainted with the latest trends and technology in order for us to meet the high standards that is emerging, for future market and industrialization.

My Life Experience in China in the first month of 2020.

When my fiancée and I went back to Xiamen, China on January 30 (just one day when the Philippines implemented a travel ban to China),   we did not resume to work, not very soon, we have to deal with a lot of rules and stipulations that were imposed to both Chinese and foreigners in the entire nation.

There were:

  • Empty roads, just very few cars. (Not a very typical China that we used to know)
  • Limited time to go out and buy our food, supplies and groceries. No badminton as our favorite sports, restaurants were closed and we can’t visit other people as well.
  • We even signed an agreement that we will be quarantined for a minimum of 14 days. It feels a bit frightening and we didn’t know what’s going to happen in few weeks.
  • Traveling in other cities and provinces were prohibited.
  • Body temperatures were strictly monitored.

Many of our loved ones and friends were scared for us. Our jobs were in the verge of uncertainty, the stigma of other countries and negative connotations against China was uprising.

We can’t change what’s happening at that moment. We just have to trust with the authorities and we have to wait for the resumption of work and other normal, day to day activities.

GMA’s State of the Nation (News and Current Affairs) asked me for an interview and for the permission to have my story to be televised in the Philippines.

I went back to work, we started to teach online. Yes! You heard it right. Online classes! Something that I’m not very used to, not trained and I have to deal with.

This was something new to me and I have to configure how to use the ZOOM app as our platform for education purposes.

Let me share to you the important factors that new era educators in today’s generation should be aware and must highly consider.

1st. The use of stable WiFi and gadgets is a must. It is not something that you should be taken for granted. Using 4G is not always a good idea (it’s not always stable and it’s expensive, especially in video conferencing).

2nd. Explore the app, have a self-paced learning, the best person who can help you is ‘YOURSELF’. Learning how to use ‘Share Content’ mode, testing your audio and microphone settings, how to unmute and unmute are just few of the things that you can consider in learning a new app that will aid your mode of instruction.

3rd. Quiet and good ambience while delivering you are teaching. You don’t want to let your students hear unnecessary background noises (barking dogs, birds chirping birds, babies crying and etc.). Even the noise of the fan can be annoying, the 34-36 degrees Celsius is something not very welcoming too.

Think of a place where you can efficiently deliver your teaching, as if you were teaching in the four corners of your classroom. 

In a nutshell, we must embrace the changes and we have to make sure that we will be educated enough in the new things that we are going to venture. The future of our nation lies in the hands of every Filipino, every one of us is important and we are valuable. As an educator, we are facing a tremendous challenge both in our personal and professional lives. And since we are living in a modern world where technology is ubiquitous. We are here for such a time as this. Our role, our participation and our dedication are highly needed.

Posted in ESL
Posted by:Marvin Alejandro Tuazon

By profession, I'm a registered nurse and I took units of Education where it gave me the privilege to be a licensed teacher. I've started teaching way back in 2008 and I've been an expat and English Teacher in China since 2012. At the moment, I'm teaching English Literature and TOEFL in one of the senior high schools in Taian City.

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