Today is the 28th World Mental Health Day and perhaps most of us have never heard about this occasion until recently. Honestly, I heard about mental health awareness campaigns before—when a beauty queen advocated about this cause, when a famous K-Pop celebrity fell a victim, and many other little stories from social media. But the truth is I was never mindful at all. All I knew was that it existed. Suddenly, it has all become a reality at least to some of us.
The internet and social media saw it all. All these reminders of resiliency—these zones that tell you where you are and who you really are in this time of pandemic. These things are not too distant from our current school situation.
April opened a lot of conversations and debates between or among school leaders. How would they continue? Would schools open in June? Would we lose our jobs? These were questions that worried almost all members of the academe. Eventually, it just revealed itself—Online Distance Learning was the solution. With this breakthrough paired with the unknown, teachers began to question their preparedness. Do they have the right technical skills and knowledge? Are they ready for ODL?
Just a few months ago, we have seen the transition and transformation of teaching and learning in our country. Even the parents, too, have their own challenges. Now, they need to read with their children the modules in Math. They require themselves to be by their kids when the latter open their video apps for their MAPEH class. They also need to know the Learning Management System and remember the username and password. These they need to do while still working from home or being a parent in the household.
With all of these new technologies and other instructional digital tools ready, have we gone from Fear Zone, in which most were unknown and uncertain, to Learning Zone, where we began to discover hopes and started organizing, or to the Growth Zone, which has us looking and moving forward with gratefulness? Whichever zone we are in, all these things happening greatly affect our wellness and our being. But it is normal in the new normal. Dr. Ingrid Daniels, President of World Federation for Mental Health, said that “this call to action will be strengthened through our alliances, collaborations and partnerships to ensure that investment in mental health is prioritized.” Thus, these challenges must become opportunities to survive and flourish with some help, of course!
Let me share with you some words of encouragement:
WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER
You are not alone. You have to recognize that what you are feeling, whether it’s good or bad, is a shared experience. If you feel down because you cannot master computer technical skills, someone else out there is struggling the same. If you are breaking down because you get a lot of home works from your teachers, you are not alone. We just need to accept things as they are at the moment. Take all these one step at a time. Talk to a friend who understands what you’re going through. Or perhaps listen to someone who experiences the same. We are in this together. Remind yourself that it is normal to feel the feelings you have, but you are not alone.
FIND JOY IN YOUR PASSION
As a parent, you love doing all these learning coaching because your clients are your children. This must be the time that you have wished for before. Live the moment and journey with them. The technical part is just secondary. What matters is the process. You are learning with your kids all at the same time. That’s happiness that you have with them.
If you are a teacher and have modules and presentations to create, do them with love and joy. This may be a little hard to do with all the pile of work on the table, but this can be done. This is our vocation and teaching means love for us. Peace happens when we pour in more love and courage. Be more compassionate with our learners and be more kind to yourself.
To our learners, we understand that you have some Netflix series to catch up on, mobile games to make you feel relaxed, or chat time with some friends. These are things that give you joy, but you have the right time for all these. When school work is done and activities have been accomplished, then you are free to continue what you really love doing. I know that study load can be a little antagonizing, but we learn from these challenges. Be more forgiving when school work takes a little of your fun time. The teachers are just doing their job. You are also expected to do your part.
WE’VE GOT YOU
We are here for you. We are here with you! Worrying about making your Online Distance Learning and Teaching work should not happen at all. At Phoenix Aralinks, we make sure that we have the support that you need to make things easier for you. Our Integration Facilitators and Aralinks Coordinators make sure that your questions are answered and that you are helped with the use of the Aralinks LMS. We also have a hotline #89271, open from Mondays to Friday within school hours, to answer for your technical concerns and some LMS inquiries,. An online help desk, too, receives your concerns via tickets. Just log in at helpdesk.aralinks.com.
Online distance learning and teaching is still a work in progress and just like any other endeavors, it becomes successful when all hands are soaked in the water. Perhaps with “collaboration” and “partnerships”, things become easier and healthier in the minds of the people who play the characters in the new school realities. Mutual wellness happens in the end of it all. I am hoping and praying that when we celebrate the 29th year of WMHD, all stories we tell are inspiring tales of our survival and resiliency.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Lemuel Santos is a Certified Aralinks EdTech Specialist. He is currently the Unit Head for Customer Experience. Before his stint in Aralinks, he taught English in the Faculty of Engineering and Institute of Information and Computing Sciences of the University of Santo Tomas, Manila, where he graduated. He also taught in UST Senior High School, St. Scholastica’s College – Westgrove, and St. Paul College, Pasig.