ODL Teachers’ Story

National Teachers’ Month 2020 ends on October 5, which coincides with the celebration of World Teachers’ Day 2020.

The new normal has challenged students and their parents in learning continuity and the struggle is real as would most of them say. Parents have become learning coaches. In the first two weeks of online classes, the learners, especially the younger ones, depended heavily on their parents’ support—to make sure that their audio was clear, that they knew right buttons to click, that they could participate when they’re called by the teachers. On top of all those, parents had to purchase new distance learning gadgets and devices. Some had to upgrade their internet connectivity, or perhaps spent more on data bundles. All these and more were just a few of the scenarios that happened in the new classroom set up, but for any sigh of relief, the new classroom set up is the home.

Teachers, too, say that the struggle is definitely real. When the community quarantine guidelines were announced, everyone in school was clueless about how long this lockdown would take place. Days, weeks, and months slowly revealed that face-to-face learning was not going to happen. Sure, the teachers knew a thing or two about Online Distance Learning, but only few knew how to execute them accordingly.

Phoenix Aralinks has been supporting our partner schools for the past seven years. The start, just like any beginnings, was not a walk in the park. Aralinks teachers also had their pains in educational technology, but with the rich integration support, which included technical and pedagogical trainings, and practice, they were able to survive the journey. Now, only very little adjustments they had to do for this new mode of learning.

Meanwhile, there are new Aralinks partners that have just joined the EdTech revolution just now. April and May were the critical months for them. They had to decide for a partner that can support their technical capacities—one was technology and another would be professional advancement. When all things were a go, they began training for this new digital learning platform.  Suddenly, webinars and LMS had been the talk of the town. Teachers became aware of Zoom. Some of them learned about it alongside the words pandemic and quarantine. Technical trainings began. Weeks and months of endless online meetings became their regular schedule. They too had to experience the ordeal of knowing the unfamiliar from a technical trainer who was only present in the screen. Downloadable manuals and video tutorials have been their ECQ companions. Creating an online quiz was not at all easy the first time. Developing digital self-learning modules, too, was extraordinary. Perhaps they doubled and tripled the “how to” phrase in Google. They also had to study. They even risk their own safety by going to school for better internet connectivity. The truth is they were not all tech savvy. Some are “high tech” and the others, “hi, tech”! But they had to move forward. Despite worries and some fears, the teachers had to face them all. Many relied on instincts and some, faith in God.

August came and the opening of classes drew close. Still everything was uncertain and everyone was still everywhere. It was only when virtual sessions began that teachers and school officials were able to point out the true essentials. It’s been just more than a month since the opening of pure online classes began. Every day is a new learning experience. There may be some highs and lows in the teaching and learning process, but all is well at the end of the day. And while students turn on their Netflix or Facebook, teachers remain in the laptop for more work to do. While kids browse IG stories and dance Tiktok away, teachers stay up late and plan for next week’s activities until the following day. Everyone has a role to play in this new normal set up of teaching and learning. Have you done your part well, too?

Before the National Teachers’ Month ends, please show some love and support to your teachers. This includes your parents, too!

Happy National Teachers’ Month, dear Aralinks partners!

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