One thing that may be hard to overcome in our new educational context is that there may be ways, particularly for young children, in which the physical presence of a human is necessary, or other ways in which physicality matters.
“It is difficult to learn without the teacher in front,” admits Paola, one of my learners who, like million others enrolled in the public schools, is into the current modular distance learning. Let’s face it, not all learners can learn independently. Good for those who have adults at home who have the time and capacity to assist in completing the modules. How about for learners who only have themselves to rely on?
A learning material, even with its high-quality content is not enough. The facilitative skills of teachers in a face-to-face setup help learners have a better grasp of concepts that are presented in a learning material. The methods and strategies employed by teachers, their effective use of the art of questioning, among other things, are all crucial to making learners assimilate lessons and master the learning competencies.
Although teachers in the new normal are trying to replicate the engagement and discourse from the traditional classroom, still distance matters. The screen that serves as barrier between the learner and the teacher in online classes serves to create an anonymous relationship between the teacher and the learner. Indeed, without rapport, learners can struggle to make sense of what they are trying to learn.
Now, what does this mean for teachers? We all know there’s no substitute for learning in a school setting, and many students are struggling and falling far behind. Remote learning isn’t comparable to in-person teaching. Even with video conferencing. Zoom and similar video conferencing platforms are not optimal for the one-on-one interactions that teachers are used to having in the classroom.
As teacher, I believe we cannot afford to ignore these changes. We should learn how to build effective relationships with our learners even in remote learning setup. This may mean we need to re-assess how we create relationships and build personal connections with our students. We should encourage learners to commit to the course in the same way they would if the class was face-to-face.
Teachers should not allow themselves to fail because of a lack of imagination and effort. We can continue to do more than just present content. We do this by questioning, listening, responding to learners’ queries, giving prompt feedback, and keeping pulse on learners’ progress and wellbeing. It is simply unacceptable that we lose touch with our learners. We can make each learner feel heard and supported. As we learn more about how remote learning works, we can try to do it better – because even if the Covid-19 pandemic is over, we may need to do it again. — Junette Dio-as