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Starting Over Well

by Theresann H. Gatapia

Academic professionals — myself included — may describe the past school year in two words: Chaotic. Challenging.

Still, we agree that the year was also filled with learning. In so many ways, this pandemic has challenged our paradigms and pushed us to the limit. 

We’re still in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic now, but as we learn to live with the virus and as we get vaccinated one by one, we allow ourselves to see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. In this article, I’d like to review with you what I have learned so far in this ordeal and what I think we can alter in our professional practice to help us become even better educators.

Start Great

In these unprecedented times, ensuring that learning will not stop is critical. Students rely heavily on the directions given by their schools, their teachers, and their parents. 

As teachers who play a critical role, it is important that we start this school year right for them. Despite the uncertainties, students must feel that once they have entered your class, there is a clear sense of direction and purpose to keep them motivated and engaged for the entire year. Teachers are expected to have gained meaningful learnings to create and implement more robust classroom routines and procedures, communicate their expectations effectively, and provide a more structured learning environment. If you start on the right foot, plan well, and follow through, regardless of what challenges this new school year may have, you and your students will be able to make it. 

Flexibility is Key

Many students have been left behind due to poor access to the internet or the appropriate devices. In contrast, others have accelerated their digital learning through sophisticated software, high-performing gadgets, and highly trained teachers. This digital divide has been exacerbated by the crisis and will leave gaps in children’s learning.

This in mind, flexibility and creativity are two strong skills that will be important this coming school year. Teachers must be ready to adapt and respond to any changes that may come their way. On top of that, it will be an advantage for teachers to have different varieties of engaging approaches and strategies to keep the students participative, especially if we only hold classes online. Understanding that your students will have different levels of academic proficiency will empower you to act and develop a more meaningful learning experience for them.

Learn to Trust the Process

If there’s a silver lining to online distance learning, it is this: students are getting more opportunities to become independent learners. With the right tools and guidance, students can work independently and at their own pace. In the process, they are becoming better problem solvers. 

With this in mind, teachers are highly encouraged to continue transforming and upgrading their methods and strategies to become more adaptable to the online learning environment. Utilizing educational technology platforms, taking courses, and attending webinars focused on pedagogical approaches are some of the ways to improve and enhance the learning experiences you will create for your students. Trust that all the efforts you will exhaust to better yourself as an educator will reflect on how confident your students will be to become responsible for their own learning.

You are Important

Teachers go above and beyond every single year. This year even more, every teacher is stepping up and putting in countless hours of prep time, communicating with families, students, trying to do whatever possible to make sure that students can still learn in a safe environment, whether that’s at home or in-person. 

While it is difficult to find bright spots in a pandemic, we now have an opportunity to reflect on our own well-being. As much as everyone else, you are important! Your overall health and wellness should be a top priority. Having the right positive mindset at the start of the year would go a long way. Don’t forget to have a self-care plan that you can revisit and revise. A self care plan can include three things you can do to manage your thoughts or feelings and three activities that you find particularly relaxing. Allot time for self care. 

Maintaining a sense of balance when many are feeling thrown out-of-balance is important; besides, we can’t control the spread of the virus, the markets, or the government’s actions, but we can focus on things like our diet, sleep, exercise, thoughts, and feelings.

Keep that optimistic spirit alive and practice good hygiene and distancing! 

About the Author
Theresann H. Gatapia is a licensed professional teacher and is currently the Courseware Development Manager of Xepto Education.  Prior to Xepto, she was the program manager of Asian Institute of Management – MSc. in Data Science. She also led the content and curriculum development of the Affordable Private Education Center under the Ayala Corporation. She taught primary and middle level in both local and international schools and obtained her Master’s Degree at De La Salle University.