Teachers are no stranger to challenges. In fact, challenges come with the territory of the noblest profession in the world. When the pandemic hit in early 2020, education was one of the most affected sectors in the Philippines.
Twenty-nine-year-old teacher Carolyn Bongato-Piezas has had her share of life’s difficulties. As a child, she used to walk five kilometers every day to and from school, because her parents could not afford to provide her with full transportation fare. Today, the challenges have shifted to the need for reliable connectivity. She teaches grades 4, 5, and 6 at the Sagbayan Sur Elementary School in Bohol, which has adopted the modular print mode of teaching for grades 2 to 6. Now faced with challenges anew, Teacher Carolyn sees opportunities in education’s new normal.
To mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Department of Education (DepEd) implemented the blended or distance learning modality as an alternative to the traditional face-to-face classes in a school setting. An educational strategy that enables students to attend learning sessions in the safety of their homes, this methodology can be managed through printed modules being delivered to the homes of students or picked up by their parents, online learning resources such as the DepEd Commons, and television or radio-based instruction.
Teacher Carolyn, who graduated magna cum laude from Bohol Island State University in 2013, is a PLDT-Smart Foundation (PSF) Gabay Guro scholar. She says constant collaboration made possible by reliable connectivity is key in helping today’s learners. “The bond of the teacher and parents must be strengthened. This may be done through online chats, and text messages for follow up.”
One of many beneficiaries of the Smart LTE Pocket WiFi from the PSF’s Text-to-Donate #NoLearnerLeftBehind program, she finds the Smart LTE Pocket WiFi very helpful since they are now “digital in communicating, and in complying with almost everything.”
The Smart Pocket WiFi enabled her to deliver lessons, attend discussions, and submit requirements–all online. Through her connection, she was also able to download the centralized Self-Learning Modules (SLMs) for her classes.
PSF’s #NoLearnerLeftBehind program involves the turnover Smart LTE pocket WiFi devices to the DepEd for the use of public school teachers nationwide, enabling them to connect to the internet.
Teacher Carolyn underscores that now, more than ever, teachers must consistently collaborate and communicate with learners and their parents. She says, “Education in the digital age is a challenging journey in teaching. While I miss the authenticity and face-to-face interaction of the old mode of education, I am thankful for each day that I am able to witness, albeit online, how young minds continue to develop, grow, survive and thrive.”
There’s always the new normal to look forward to. And more than anyone else, Teacher Carolyn always sees the brighter side of life.