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History attests how major global crises elicit innovation and progress in human civilizations. While the COVID19 pandemic absolutely disrupted educational operations worldwide, it also has tested the audacity and tenacity of private schools to remain relevant and competitive in attaining their mission of delivering high quality education. The lingering fears and many unknowns about quality and safety have not prevented the Patronage of Mary Development School (PMDS) to see the opportunities for responding accordingly to the issues and trends that since beleaguered the academic community. 

 What has been revealed through this recent worldwide plague is human resilience and optimism. PMDS serves as a fountainhead of hope in the community and the explainer of truth for all, guided by its Christian mission and Filipino-oriented aspiration. If the education sector were to endure and advance, then it is incumbent upon school stakeholders to valiantly explore the full potentials of a post-COVID19 era where society still upholds the power and glory of learning.

Innumerable questions about the current situation in instructional delivery surfaced since the initial reopening of the school. Although the escalating level of worry and anxiety was responded consequently by both the government authorities and the private sector, PMDS has discovered and continually nurtured the beneficial components of the latest effective pedagogies and academic services in the new normal.

Students and teachers of PMDS confront head on the myriad challenges and see the silver lining amid this pandemic. They have shown the potent virtues espoused by the school and live on the tradition of academic excellence despite the odds and whatever it takes. Read on how they respond to certain issues they are faced with in this interview.            

Community Quarantine and Independent Learning

Gielo Mendez: “It is difficult. But if we want to learn, there is always a way to learn.”

Fred Kyle Pelone: “Learning now is more self-paced. Teachers are merely guides. I am prone to procrastinating. Poor time management and lack of focus are issues that I need to deal with.”

No name: “Learning will always find a way- no matter what it takes.”

Lord Jemuel Menao: “Whether or not we are personally ready, the race is on. Although we are not heading towards the same destination and each of us will run a different path, at the end, it will not matter what race we are running but how we are running the race.”

Christian Josh Horlador: “It changes my lifestyle, and my learning style because of the new mode of instruction.”  

Zyzetzee Pelonio: “I have realized that it is easier to study in school because of the learning atmosphere.”  

Reggie Anne Espino: “It makes me independent. It also helps me develop my understanding skills.”

Vanessa Mae Cabase: “My social life already has limitations. I could not even see my teachers and classmates daily and I could not even go bonding with my friends physically.”

Nathaniel Nacario: “Slow-paced learning due to slow internet connection (for online students) is a challenge.”

Welcoming the New Normal

Gielo Mendez: “I embrace the concept of the new normal by accepting the new way of learning which is the blended learning, and also discovering the advantages of this new way of learning.”

Fred Kyle Pelone: “I am and will be adapting to the situation. As the pandemic is still ongoing, we are still facing danger. I am open to the experience this new normal would give me.”

No name: “People are just exaggerating that this new mode of education is trash and unhealthy- until I experienced it myself. I need engagement. But I have no choice, no more wasting of years. So I just accepted and dealt with it.”

Lord Jemuel Menao: “It gives me both fear and a relief. Fear of not going to make it and a relief of being safe are my concerns.”

Christian Josh Horlador: “I embraced the concept of new normal in education by accepting and learning to be independent.”  

Zyzetzee Pelonio: “It is hard adjusting at first, but we’ll get used to it. Also, it’s not a bad thing to change things up a little. We should be positive.”

Reggie Anne Espino: “I could also not help but to miss the feeling of being in the classroom, with my classmates and being taught by the teacher, personally, in front of us.”

Vanessa Mae Cabase: “I am looking at the positive side of the situation. It may affect our old normal behaviors but it could really help us in many ways such as the risks in going to school every day and in financial terms.” 

On Blended Learning

Gielo Mendez: “We don’t have to wear uniform every day, also I like it because we only stay at home.”

Fred Kyle Pelone: “It gives us option, either to learn synchronously or asynchronously. It also gives other students who have little to no access to the internet.”

Lord Jemuel Menao: “Students will be able to study and learn with their comforts at home or even at friends’ abode and will be able to send all the materials through online.”

Christian Josh Horlador: “What I like on this blended learning is that I can choose between asynchronous and synchronous modality which is quite manageable.”  

Zyzetzee Pelonio: “What I like about blended learning is that you don’t have to wake up early to get ready for school. Also because it is blended, you can look up online what you don’t understand. Also, because we learn at home, we don’t have to wear our school uniforms so it is really convenient.”

Reggie Anne Espino: “What I like about blended learning is being able and allowed to have access on the internet. This way, aside from it makes things easier (like searching in Google for simpler explanations, possible answers, etc.), it also develop my skills in technology.”

Vanessa Mae Cabase: “Our school has been doing that even before this new normal of education. This is not a new concept to us. What I like about blended learning is that it is not the conventional way of teaching; teachers integrate technologies in their instruction to enhance the delivery and discussion as well as in giving us tests.”

Nathaniel Nacario: “It maybe not the same as before but at the very least it solves the problems, questions and clarifications of students in three to four-hour face-to-face orientation and monitoring.”

Coping with Challenges  

Gielo Mendez:  “We have to trust in ourselves that we can do it, and focus on the things that are only necessary in coping up the tasks.”

Fred Kyle Pelone: “I am practicing myself to manage my time more effectively, as this is the main concern on doing various tasks. Planning ahead of time, scheduling the tasks, according to due time or importance is a must.”

Lord Jemuel Menao:  “I hate to cram and that pushes me to finish all the tasks given to me as much as possible. In order for me to get things done, I do organize my workloads and what I should be doing first.”

Christian Josh Horlador: “I prepared myself by not getting distracted to social media and by making and planning what to do every week.”

Zyzetzee Pelonio: “I don’t like to pressure myself since I panic and when I panic I can’t focus.”

Reggie Anne Espino: “ I keep schedules of my activities so that no activities will be left behind. This way, I would be able to enhance my time management skills.”

Vanessa Mae Cabase: “Accomplishing the multifarious tasks one at a time helps me lessen my worries. We are dealing with new normal so we have to strengthen not only our immune system but also our mental health.”  

Digital and Technological Safety

Fred Kyle Pelone: “The one thing I must do about this is to avoid distractions as much as possible. Knowing that social media, online games, and everything in the phone just one tap away I must resist the temptation of accessing things aside in relation to school.”

No Name: “I keep myself safe by always thinking before clicking. Observing the netiquette above all is key. Inspecting the files first if they contain malwares and viruses.”

Lord Jemuel Menao:  “I have a security system in my devices being used when complying with assignments and learning tasks. I use this method so that I can avoid Identity Theft, Viruses, Malwares, etc. every time I connect into the internet.”

Christian Josh Horlador: “I make sure that I get enough sleep and by not using always the gadgets and having good rest.”

Zyzetzee Pelonio: “I try not to use unreliable sources for my answers and I also try not to open malicious sites with unsafe security that may try to ruin my device’s performance. 

Reggie Anne Espino: “I would only use a gadget for a period of time, and when I would be using that gadget, I would make sure to follow my sole purpose of searching and visit those websites that are for education only.”

Vanessa Mae Cabase: “If it is not necessary for me to use the computer, I would rather stop scrolling and surfing the net for me to avoid unhealthy information and news. 

Nathaniel Nacario: “By avoiding virus and malware when exploring the web and answering the school requirements through installing defensive measures like firewall/ anti-virus are some of my techniques.”

Support from Family

Gielo Mendez:  “They support me by letting me do what I need to do especially in complying with the school requirements, but they’re always reminding to follow the health protocols.”

Fred Kyle Pelone: “They are supporting in a way that they provide us the tools to be able to learn in the new normal. They also give moral support, more often than before, as the quarantine made us closer as a family.”

Lord Jemuel Menao:  “Taking online courses are not easy as 1 2 3 because you need to have enough resources and tools such as gadgets, money (for load purposes), and any other materials needed for online class.”

Christian Josh Horlador: “They always encourage me to comply with my learning tasks and assist me in some areas I have difficulty with.”

 Zyzetzee Pelonio: “Since it takes up a lot of load, my parents support me with it. Also, on times that I have to go to school they sometimes help me get there.”

Reggie Anne Espino: “My parents and guardians support me on my school activities relative to the new normal in education by helping me with those tasks I have to do like video performances, recordings, etc., and of course, teaching and explaining to me the lessons, or instructions I find quite difficult to understand, too.”

Calls to Government

Gielo Mendez:  “Please give importance to education, a good quality of education even though there’s a pandemic, because I believe that education will lift us up, through hard times and bad times.

Fred Kyle Pelone: “I would probably tell him to give more support where support is mostly needed.  Focus more on helping and providing those who really need the resources in order to still learn despite the situation.”

Lord Jemuel Menao:  “I would like to request free devices to use in Online Class and free internet load so that the students can comply easily and hassle-free.”

Christian Josh Horlador: “I will tell the President to lessen the subscription of loads and to tell the schools not to get hard to their students.”

Zyzetzee Pelonio: “I hope he and the government will find a way to go back to face-to-face classes. Or if things will not get better I’ll tell him that a lot of Filipinos are struggling to find money amidst the pandemic and pay for their studies, a lot of them even use inappropriate ways to earn money and it needs immediate action and attention.”

Reggie Anne Espino: “So if I were given the chance, I would like to tell the President about the issue of internet connection.”  

Vanessa Mae Cabase: “I just want to tell President Duterte to be kind and gentle to himself. We are already bombarded with knowledge and negativity. We can’t control these situations but we can control our emotions to face this situation.”

Online Resources for Pedagogical Effectives

Edgardo Cabase: “It is challenging because I am still struggling on how to manipulate the apps and other systems. It is rewarding because though I have been striving still, I learn. I learned to be patient, to be optimistic, and have learned the value of knowing that once a teacher always a student.”

Mirraquel Dicdiquin: “I cannot deny the fact that at first it was hard but as the time passed by, I tried to figure out the good sides of using online resources in teaching.”  

Teacher Jhenn : “We need to be flexible in all aspects of education. Being in this field of teaching for almost four months now is a big help for me to enhance my skills on how to be an effective teacher. We relish its presence in our lives but we dread the effect it may have on our manners, attitudes and social interactions.”

Justine Amarila: “It was not easy as I am not still familiar with using online resources but using it continuously, I am able to adapt and deliver my lessons for pedagogical effectiveness.”

On Assessment and Grades

Edgardo Cabase: “Undeniably, there is no strong assurance and guarantee on theauthenticity, quality and sophistication in terms of grades andassessments.  They need help from the parents and tutors, so it tends to be that their learning are not their own.

Loida Caldino: “I acquired the mechanism to inform the students or their parents the feedback on the status of their outputs in each lesson or grading period.”

Teacher Jhenn: “What matters the most is the learning. Grades are numbers that should reflect what students have learned and achieved. The teacher must also have criteria of mastery of learning, while still maintaining the standards. The purpose and priorities in designing the assessment must encourage and support our learners.

Eradicating Fear of Technology

Edgardo Cabase: “We should not be afraid to try what is new to us. Anything that cannot kill us cannot harm us.”

Loida Caldino: “Everything in this world can be learned by the willing mind and hand.”

Mirraquel Dicdiquin: “Using technology at this time of pandemic will bridge the gap between the teachers and the learners to achieve the desired goals.”

Teacher Jhenn: “Information and communication technologies have already invaded the scene digital devices such as computer and other social technologies that have entered the classroom and altered the face of teaching and learning environment. We must discipline our students on how to use responsibly the available educational technologies.”

Justine Amarila: “I can eradicate the pervasive fear of technology among teachers by constantly encouraging my co-teachers that shifting into a new way of delivering our lessons through technology is an exciting development in education as it enhances our way of delivering our lessons and it lightens up our work because it makes our preparation of lessons faster and easier.”

Flexibility, Adaptability and Empathy

Edgardo Cabase: “Empathy shouldbe extended especially to the part of the students. Not all students canafford to go for online classes, they might have gadgets but do nothave sufficient and stable internet connection. Teachers should alwaysfind a way to reach out the students and to meet their learning needs.”

Loida Caldino: “Being Sensitive to the learners and to their parents are much needed in order to comply with all the learning tasks across all subjects.”

Mirraquel Dicdiquin: “We need to be flexible in doing different and to adapt with the changes. We are not surviving for ourselves. We must give the excellence in us to our students.”  

Teacher Jhenn : “We as a teacher must be flexible in the learning processes of our students. Adaptability is essential in the new normal education because we need to adapt the changes of education.”

Justine Amarila: “Our creativity is unleashed to perform diverse ways in delivering our lessons.”

Perspective and Practices

Edgardo Cabase: “We are all in struggle and in need but that should not stop us from being a responsible teacher. Our hardships must be our guideposts to continue our oath. As teachers, we should be humble enough to accept that we have deficiencies and discrepancies.”

Loida Caldino: “You’re going to keep in touch with your learners so you can update them with what is lacking in their learning tasks and that they should submit on time.”

Mirraquel Dicdiquin: “Prepare modules, at the same time provide videos of each lesson so that it will help the students or the guardian for them to guide the students who can’t stand on their own.”  

Teacher Jhenn: “Being resourceful and being creative in delivering instructions are ideals. We must find other point of views especially in this new normal education to integrate in the instruction.”

Justine Amarila:  “The way I develop the critical thinking of my students through asking diverse and higher order thinking questions are key to facilitating independent and responsible learning.”

Optimistic Outlook

Edgardo Cabase: “If the educational system of our country will change, then I couldsay that the future for the education sector would be better. There isnothing wrong in our education, only in the system.”

Teacher Jhenn: “Change is possible. There were many changes made in education system and so as a teacher, we must be flexible and adapt. Ours expands the definition of right to education to remove barriers in connectivity and strengthen the flexibility and adaptability across the levels of education.”

Justine Amarila:  “I can see that it will give us progressive and productive students that will contribute to the success in the education sector of our country.”

From the Desk of the School Director

“For the past six months, our engagement, systems operations and resource allocation have been altered due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Amidst these changing dynamics, the Patronage of Mary Development School is proactively responding to meet the educational needs of our learners. The continuity of teaching- learning, regardless of modality, remains the front and center of our endeavors. We stand by our conviction that learner’s rights to education remain protected and non-negotiable.

Before the pandemic, we have already existing challenges in our instructional delivery. Despite the added challenges, PMDS continues to collaborate with parents, stakeholders and like-minded individuals to insure that education must be accessible to all.

Our Resilience and Learning Continuity Plan aims to strengthen our existing priorities in the instructional delivery highlighting health, wellness and safety and empowering families for home-based learning. PMDS teachers and administrators are leading and exemplifying resilience and innovation and redesigning learning environment to lessen the adverse impact of this health crisis.

Finally, to complement the limited engagement between teachers and students, blended learning mode is strengthened focusing on the Most Essential Learning Competencies (MELCs). Integrated across learning areas are the value-based, evidence-based and philosophical-based principles of teaching and learning which must be imbibed and practiced to succeed in their undertakings as students today and as professionals in the future.”

The COVID19 crisis presents a valuable prospect for the entire education sector to consolidate its resources and share its best practices to surmount the peculiarities and anomalies that torment the future of the academe and of the youth. PMDS remains steadfast and confident that facing squarely the predicaments, and utilizing wisely the obtainable opportunities will prove worthy in its quest to become the school exemplar that won against fear and uncertainty during a global crisis in post-pandemic era.      

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