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A Leyte-based teacher shares his experience of teaching his students during the COVID-19 pandemic

Sir Rufino S. Almaden, a Master Teacher at Tanauan School of Craftsmanship and Home Industries (TSCHI) of the Leyte Division, Region 8, shares his experience and challenges of teaching his students during lockdown and shares some advice for our young people who are having to adapt to learning at home.

Sir Rufino at the Malaybalay Play For Peace training workshop, June 2019

I started teaching in a private school right after I graduated from college and then from 2007 I am connected to TSCHI public school. Since then I am connected to the institution.

As a teacher, facing this new normal is quite different and there has been a big adjustment. Although, before the COVID-19 pandemic, being a teacher was already challenging. It becomes more challenging for teachers, in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, to make education relevant and responsive to the current situation in serving our primary clients which are the students.

As a public school teacher we are used to attending face to face professional development training to prepare for lessons before classes start but instead, these are all now conducted online as webinars.

Before the pandemic, we had digital platforms to communicate with our students through messenger apps. When the pandemic happened, the messenger apps were our main tool of communication to reach out to our students. Aside from texting or calling our students on their contact numbers, we post updates online instead.

To ensure the continuation of learning for our students, it is important to teach the most essential learning competencies needed whilst also prioritising the health and safety of our students; these are the primary goals of the Department of Education.

Region 8, according to our Regional Director Dr Ramir B. Uytico, we will be using the distance and blended learning, since this was the most preferred of our parents and students. We are not just ordinary teachers at this time, we are also front liners. Since we deliver and retrieve the print- out modules to the Barangay or to our students houses, we risk our health every time we leave our respective houses.

The below proposal was made by the Local Government Unit School Board entitled ‘Modified Home-Based Program’:

  • Plan to swab 38 teachers to bring home teachers (from Tanauan) who are currently assigned in other municipalities.

  • The proposed localisation will enable a weekly teacher home visit to every student to ensure strong follow- up of blended instruction

  • Request for LGU support of 1.4 million pesos for seven risograph machines (one per high school/district) and 4,000 reams of bond papers.

The majority of students impacted by the pandemic are our students who may be slow learners and those less fortunate in being able to access online resources. My piece of advice to our students is not to be worried about learning, rather be inspired in learning. To all parents, students, LGU and to our other individual stakeholders, we need your support to make our plan into a reality because our plan will remain a plan without strong support from our stakeholders.

We are so glad to have a stakeholder like Fundlife International, who is our partner in the Department of Education. Since 2017, TSCHI has been in partnership with Fundlife International through the Football for Life programme. Our students who are football enthusiasts become more inspired in coming to school because they have self motivation that they can play football by improving their academic performance as well.One year after implementing FFLA in our school, the TSCHI won 2nd place in the 2018 Provincial Meet. In 2019 we started to train the girls for the TSCHI Futsal Team, they represented us in the 2019 Provincial Meet.

Sir Rufino with our GCL and FFLA players during the Recognition activity at TSCHI, April 2019

Thank you to the dedicated staff of Fundlife International, through the leadership of Mr Mark (founder and director of Fundlife International) and Miss Kimberley Lopez (Operations Manager at Fundlife International) and to the FFLA coaches, Coach Marvin Alaon, Coach Bernard Basas, Coach John Paul Masubay, Coach Dada Villamor and Coach Jean.

I am still hoping that Fundlife International will continue its strong support and partnership with TSCHI.

Sir Rufino S. Almaden

Master Teacher at TSCHI

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