Private school teachers share their experiences in blended learning

Published October 4, 2020, 9:15 AM

by Noel Pabalate

Nursery level teachers of Quezon City Mines Elementary School fixing their students’ printed modules for distribution

Before the Department of Education (DepEd) announced in August that the start of the academic year for public schools would be postponed to Oct. 5, some private schools had begun teaching in the new normal.

Teachers, both in private and public schools, have to adjust and adapt even at the cost of forgetting their personal lives.

To celebrate them, we bring you inspiring stories of our teachers, second parents to our children, fulfilling their all-important mission in these revolutionary times.

Melly Jane H. Maglupay

Kindergarten, all subjects
Sibuguey Valley SDA Elementary School, Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur

In their dry run, before classes started on the first week of September, Melly and her students experienced glitches on Zoom and Google Meet due to poor Internet connection. It was impossible for her to hold an efficient online class. They had to depend on modular and face-to-face learning. Yes, face-to-face learning.

With no Covid cases in Brgy. Bayog at the time, the local government of Zamboanga del Sur allowed the school to conduct face-to-face teaching, provided they observed all health protocols.

ALL SMILES Nursery teacher Melly Jane Maglupay wears a beautiful smile despite her heavy work load

But Melly still had other challenges, including going house-to-house in order to deliver modules, conduct lessons, and organize assessments. She would divide her schedule conscientiously to accommodate all her 32 students every week.

The 27-year-old educator also notes that she spends more time than ever on her computer preparing lectures, printing modules, and downloading visuals for lessons. She regularly uses her cellphones to film herself for instructions and to communicate with her students’ guardians. 

“I almost have no time for my family. And even before I sleep, I can’t help but think of my students. I always wonder if they’re really learning,” she says.

Melly’s reward comes whenever her students do well at recitation and when activity sheets show positive results. 

“Though there are opinions that kids may not learn like before, schooling this year shouldn’t be stopped,” she says. “It’s better to learn a thing or two than nothing at all. If we know that if a certain place is safe from coronavirus, why not teach face-to-face, as long as we do it in a safer way?”

The kindergarten teacher is fortunate to have her husband, Franzz Lloyd, on her side to take care of their two young children.

Although she finds herself sleeping late every night, she still finds herself smiling in the morning. With every new day, there is a new opportunity to educate her students, despite these hardships. In this crisis, she has become convinced that teaching is not merely a profession, but a passion.

Lara Tomanggong

Grade 2, all subjects
Angels Institute of Learning, Mandaluyong City

If there’s one thing Lara misses from face-to-face learning, it’s seeing and hugging her precious students. They are the reason she did not push through with her resignation last March. They are her biggest motivator to keep on teaching, even though she finds it more stressful than ever. They are the reason she loves teaching.

The special education teacher came up with a set of rules she strictly implements in her class. To get the children’s attention, which can be the hardest part of online teaching, she makes her classes interactive—the less talk the better. Various strategies, such as online games and hands-on activities, are needed in the virtual classes for her five young learners (three in the morning and two in the afternoon). But Lara says she has 10 students all-in-all, considering that she also needs to train the guardians of her pupils on how they can teach in her absence. Aside from the synchronous class, she gives asynchronous activities.

MORNING RITUAL Special Education teacher Lara Tomanggong takes her breakfast simultaneously with her online class

With the great weight put on her shoulder, she has sacrificed her personal life, tutoring on the side, and even household chores. Talking to Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, she says she is thankful to her boyfriend, Tom Kuegler of the Finding Tom vlog, for teaching her the power of the checklist, and giving time frames for each task she needs to accomplish.

Lara feels that the public needs to be patient with teachers like her, who now need more time and energy to do their work properly. They also need the support of the family and friends of learners.

“At first, it’s hard, but I have learned to cope and adapt to the new normal of teaching for the sake of my students’ future. Above all, I love my students and I will continue teaching them whatever it takes,” Lara says.

Ruel Villarosa

Grade 7, Mathematics
University of Negros Occidental–Recoletos, Negros Occidental

Ruel filed a one-year leave from teaching Grade 7 Mathematics in March to spend more time with his family. Nevertheless, having been in the education sector for 10 years, he always has this itch to teach. Not long after his resignation, he stumbled across an opportunity to tutor students online when the University of Negros Occidental started offering blended learning three months ago.

At present, his weekend tutoring sessions cater to Grade 4 students and are attended by 10 learners, his eldest daughter included. Ruel did not want her to be unproductive while she waited for her classes to start officially (tomorrow, Oct. 5). In the evenings, he would accommodate one Grade 10 student as well. 

MAT[H]ALINO Teacher Ruel Villarosa uses an improvised stand for his cellphone to conducts his math class

Having no formal training in online teaching, he discovered ways to adjust to the once unfamiliar platform. He learned to set up his cellphone to record a whiteboard on his table, where he would write math solutions. 

He can only use his phone’s data to access the Internet, so the connection is not steady when he conducts his classes on Zoom and Facebook Messenger. Thus, he thought of making math tutorial videos he could share with his students for review purposes.

These videos became his key to create a YouTube channel named Math Easy by Sir Ruel. He patiently studied video editing so he could post on YouTube regularly, and in the process, help other Grade 4 to Grade 10 students around the country.

This, however, is not the only thing that has been keeping the 37-year-old teacher busy. He also offers free online tutorials to his neighbors every 1 p.m., and teaches an 8 p.m. online class open to students who want to learn for free.

“More than the desire to practice mathematics, it’s my passion to teach. That’s why I can’t help but impart knowledge in the way I can in our current situation,” the math instructor says.

Ruel considers himself somewhat fortunate, not having to experience what his former colleagues are going through in preparing lessons and activities for blended learning. Yet, he couldn’t ignore his aspiration to contribute to the academic growth of the youth, especially now.

Glen Reynon

College, Media Writing
UST Angelicum, Quezon City

Preparation came easy for Glen since his school offered blended learning even before the pandemic. Known for its homeschooling program, UST Angelicum uses software they developed years ago, known as Learning Management System (LMS), along with other third-party apps like Aralinks for elementary school level, Schoology for highschool level, and Blackboard for college level. The school had prepared modules, which it only needed to modify, putting tweaks here and there, for this school year. The challenge now for UST Angelicum educators is how to execute teaching those modules online.

At the start of his virtual Media Writing class, Glen struggled with delivering his lectures. Accustomed to standing and moving around while teaching, it was hard for him to be seated for so long during discussions. Distractions such as loud background noises, “photobombers” (extra people consuming the frame of his student’s window), interrupted Internet connections, and unnecessary inquiries would disrupt his focus.

LIGHTS, WEBCAMERA, ACTION Media writing professor Glen Reynon teaching from home

The 33-year-old professor explains that a lot of disturbances happened in the first few weeks of the virtual class. An instance Glen could not forget was when one of his students informed him that he needed to leave class because the parents asked the pupil to go on an errand and buy something from the store. When that student came back, he reminded the student what was more important. 

“The good news for college students who get disconnected in the virtual classrooms is that lectures are recorded. But this should not be a reason for them to just disappear,” he exclaims. 

But as days go by, Glen learned to adjust to and focus on teaching beyond the distractions. He always reminds his class of the rules for a smooth session. He also makes classes more interesting by using QR codes and Mentimeter in addition to his activities.

As the current chair of the Communication Program of the school, Glen sees teaching from home as a disadvantage because, since it’s self-paced, there are temptations and tendencies to be lax. 

“Face-to-face teaching is still more effective. But since we’re all really going in this direction [online teaching], which just came too soon because of the pandemic, we have no choice but to adapt, and yes we can,” says Glen.

For Glen, the teacher’s mental health should also be given importance since this pandemic has invaded the education sector and our personal lives.

Even with the litany of challenges, Prof. Glen still loves teaching, saying “‘til death do they part.” He did not earn, at a very young age, a PhD in Philippine Studies in Media, Culture, and Language at De La Salle University this year, for nothing.