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We Asked Teachers: How Are You Adapting to Online Learning?

One still holds sessions face-to-face, the other is online fulltime.

The ongoing pandemic, as well as the “logistical requirements” of remote learning, has seen the Philippines’ official start of school move from its original month of June to August 24 and now October 5. But some students have already started hitting the books with the help of tutors.

Two longtime tutors—one still conducts sessions face to face, the other now teaches online fulltime—explain how the pandemic and its protocols have changed teaching as they know it. (Read: Teachers, Students Start Donation Drives Before Schools Resume in October)

Maey dela Cruz, Tutor for 15 Years

Maey dela Cruz, a tutor for more than 15 years, offers one-on-one teaching sessions to students between the ages of 4 and 13 years old. (Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels)

How did the pandemic and quarantine affect your work as a tutor?

It greatly affected my work. From 20 students, I’m down to 10 because I offer my tutorial services face-to face-and all my students used to go to my tutorial center.

What protocol do you practice in these face-to-face tutorials?

I wear a face mask and face shield and I constantly use alcohol. I also leave my shoes outside my students’ homes and maintain social distancing of two meters from my students. I used to hug and kiss my kindergarten students, now I don’t do that anymore. And when I get home, I take a bath and put alcohol in my bath.

From your experience, what are the advantages and disadvantages of online teaching?

It’s hard teaching online for all levels because I can’t really “control” my students. Whenever I share my screen in Zoom, I use the whole screen to show a Powerpoint presentation or video—so I can’t see the reactions of my students. For online, I only teach a maximum of two students, and they can easily not pay attention to whatever is being taught. (Read: An Expert Explains Why You Should Consider Homeschooling Your Kids)

ADVANTAGES: The student is safe at home. Lessons are easier due to the limited things we can do online. Screen time is also limited: four-hour classes are reduced to two hours. For families, the budget is less because it doesn’t include transportation costs and baon.

DISADVANTAGES: Students cannot focus very well or too long online. Teachers cannot properly monitor a large online class to see if students really understand or are paying attention. You really need a good e-learning system (strong internet, working laptop, good headset, e-board, learning management system) to teach well. And students can “cheat” by researching online for the answers or having their parents answer their quizzes.

Do you worry about getting COVID-19 in your line of work?

I do, but I can’t stop teaching. It’s my passion and livelihood. I just protect myself by following the safety protocols, staying healthy by drinking vitamins, eating a balanced diet, and sleeping well, and limiting my students to those in my community.

Lisa Marie Santiago, Teacher for 30 Years

“Online teaching is a blessing.” Lisa Marie Santiago, a teacher for 30 years, tutors academic subjects to students from preschool to college through her Green Allon Tutorial Services (established 1993) and Kiddie Habitat Your Virtual Early Learners Station. (Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels)

How did the pandemic and quarantine affect your work as a tutor?

I had to make the decision to learn to teach online by familiarizing myself with Google Classroom, Zoom, and other apps/platforms necessary to teach virtually as I have never conducted teaching this way in my life. (Read: 4 Best Apps to Make Your Life Easier While Working From Home) Since the lockdown on March 12 and until about the first week of June, I had zero clients and income for obvious reasons. No school, no work for many, no clue of what life could be tomorrow.

I really thank God because in June, my old client said he wanted to do advanced studies. Prior to his return, I was already sending feelers on social media that my tutorial services had resumed but would be conducted purely online. I also created a program suitable for these uncertain times. (Read: 5 Gratitude Prayers for Everyday Blessings)

I received responses from old clients and from new inquirers. Sadly, though, the pandemic hit everyone very hard financially. Much as they want to avail of our services, utility bills and food on the table come first, and many of my clients lost their sources of income.

From your experience, what are the advantages and disadvantages of online learning?

ADVANTAGES: I have my best and most experienced tutors back working part-time with me. Tutors no longer arrive late like they used to during face-to-face sessions. Distance is also no longer a hindrance. I can get good teachers and students from anywhere. One tutor of mine lives in Singapore, another tutor applicant lives in Cambodia. (Read: Pasig City Raises P1.2 Billion to Buy Gadgets for Online Classes)

ADVANTAGES: There are some difficulties in teaching Math online because it is easier and faster to monitor how a student computes when you teach them personally. But I believe many subjects can be taught online if teachers are innovative, creative, patient, properly trained, willing to learn new things, and resourceful.

What do you like about online teaching?

Truthfully, if the pandemic did not happen, I would never have endeavored to try tutoring online. I will be moving residence in the first quarter of next year. If I did not convert to online teaching, I would be losing the most loyal clients in my present area. (Read: World Vision PH Teams Up With DepEd to Support Distance Learners)

Online teaching is a blessing. It is a very portable job. I can do it anywhere. I can earn a good living without having to rent space or worry about losing clients if I need to transfer location.

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