The One Curve That Must Not Get Flat
My world changed by the middle of March 2020. I know you know why and I don’t need to elaborate on it.
I am a teacher of Supervised Neighborhood Play (SNP), a community-based early childhood service for the children aged 2-4 adopted by the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI). SNP provides activities where children can play safely while developing relationships, skills, social values, self-confidence, self-respect, and self-expression through unstructured time of playing and socializing.
I was assigned to the Manila North Cemetery (MNC), a community of beautiful smiles from children who literally live among the dead. It was certainly a peculiar place for children to grow in.
Strangely, I found genuine happiness here. The mere sound of giggling children was enough to motivate me to go there every day. And for 10 months prior to the lockdown, that was what I did.
Teaching children face-to-face was the thing I’m used to doing. But everything changed in a snap when the government declared a lockdown. I felt Covid-19 robbed me of something that is very precious to me. I was worried about the safety of my students—their physical well-being, mental health, and psychological growth.
Don’t get me wrong. I fully understand that everyone, including me, must sacrifice and do his or her piece in stopping this dreaded Covid-19 on its fatal track. I know suspending the SNP sessions in MNC was the right move. I know these things. But still….
It’s just… my life simply stopped. Since then, I didn’t know what to do with my life next. Teaching is not just a job to me—it is also my chance to help children to grow and to learn.
I invested a lot to earn their trust. It took a daily sacrifice of wooing them. I was already there. Then my world stopped.
A “new normal” is still alien to many, including myself. To keep our relevance, we have to keep pace with the change. We need to adapt to conducting classes online.
As a teacher in a community, this is a big challenge to me. I was not used to teaching children using a gadget. I did my job inside a mausoleum or at KKFI community center, physically in front of my pupils who are used to seeing me in person and listening to me in real time. I teach them lessons and assign tasks art and craft activities for them to accomplish in person.
While the Department of Health (DOH) and Malacanang were busy flattening the curve of the pandemic, teachers like me are trying hard to hasten the upward motion of our learning curve.
The shift to distance learning is more difficult than I initially thought. To say that the transition is not easy is the understatement of the year. Not all teachers can master G-Suite, Zoom, Google Meet, and other applications in such a short time.
Parents, too, are compelled to go through the same process. Some parents are forced to swallow their pride and throw their arms in surrender, admitting they could not possibly keep up. They simply don’t have the aptitude to learn this new technology.
Households whose parents own laptops or gadgets are not exempted from new problems this “new normal” brings. Whereas before they have their gadgets and internet signal all for themselves, they now have new competitors—their children.
They are the fortunate ones. The families where most of my pupils belong are not knowledgeable about computers and gadgets nor do they own them. They are too poor to buy even cheap android phones that will allow their children to join an online class.
But as for me, giving up is out of the question. I must learn the things I need to learn to serve the community children I love so much.
I made learning packets using the guidebook from the Department of Social Welfare Development (DSWD) outlining the lessons of the SNP and the Progressive Approach book that can be used in our class. I promised to myself to help the parents and students keep up in whatever means possible.
Last Sept.21, 2020 I met with parents to orient them about the next month’s start of online classes. I distributed the learning packets I prepared and we started learning the ins and outs of online learning.
I am fascinated by the fact that students and parents are learning side by side and simultaneously.
After all, learning ought to be a lifetime thing. Everyone’s learning curve must continue rising. Ad infinitum.