December 7, 2023

Our school recently conducted virtual programs for moving up ceremonies and commencement exercises. As a teacher and one of the event organizers, I felt the joy to have survived the grapples of virtual instructions and technical preparations. Adding more to my delight is witnessing the glorious moments shared between the students and their parents as they celebrate for a new achievement earned. At that moment, I can say that we had a “happy ever after” for surpassing the challenges of online learning. Congratulations to my colleagues and my students.
Looking back on our academic journey for the first year of full-blast online learning integration, the hardest part for the teachers and learners was the first quarter where everyone was adjusting with the new means of instructions.
Teachers had to keep finding strategies to effectively deliver the lesson. It’s not enough to know PowerPoint techniques, but discovering more helpful online tools was a must for them. Simultaneous to the creation of multiple learning materials, teachers had to keep their lines open for students’ queries and concerns. During synchronous sessions where they virtually meet students for discussions, they had to multitask in assisting students who have technical problems, answering questions on the chat box and at the same time explaining topics or giving instructions.
Monitoring the students’ individual progress was equally challenging. As we promote the educational goal that says “no one shall be left behind,” teachers had to call some parents to discuss absences or poor performances of students and will have to conduct remedial classes when needed. Even through distances, class advisers had to ensure the well-being of their students not just because it is their duty, but more driven by their natural instinct as second parents for the children. Most of the time, they had to set aside their personal concerns especially when they are hosting virtual meetings.
On the other hand, students had to train themselves to work individually more often since there are asynchronous tasks, which can be completed according to the student’s pace. Every week, they were overwhelmed with assignments from different subjects. Restless nights became a part of their academic journey. They had to learn to be more critical in researching for sources that will supplement their knowledge about a given topic. Most importantly, they had to overcome the struggle of focusing on the screen for a longer period of time in order to catch up with the flow of discussion.
The previously stated challenges are just a few of the strains experienced in the virtual education platform. Internet connection, sense of isolation issues, and longer screen time health hazards are a few additions on the list.
Although there are also benefits from virtual instruction programs such as flexibility of time, availability of resources online, and refined technical skills, they don’t match the weight of the difficulties.
It wasn’t easy, but we learned together, explored together, and finished together. We have proven that virtual connections may limit some activities and interactions, but it cannot hinder the genuine relationship between teachers and learners if we observe the value of diligence and compassion.
These experiences would explain the source for the depth of pride felt by students and teachers who survived a year filled with challenges and discoveries brought by online learning. If this will be the new normal structure of education, then you’ve started leading the way towards greater innovations. Again, congratulations! (KATHLEEN K. PADSINGAN)