At last! It’s the final week of classes for most schools, colleges and universities. Students and teachers alike have ‘survived’ the first few months of teaching and learning in the ‘new normal.’

Undoubtedly, it had been a very exhausting and stressful semester. Everyone struggled — from the basic to higher education set-up. Parents had their own share, as well. They became instant teachers, especially in families with young kids.

It really took time to get the hang of the ‘new normal’ in education. Due to numerous quarantine regulations, teachers had to be more innovative so as to ensure that the quality of remote learning would still be tantamount to that of the usual face-to-face setup. Their creativity and improvisation skills were ultimately put to test. As a result, there were those who became instant bloggers, educational show hosts and video editors. Some even became instant YouTubers, too!

On the contrary, students and teachers still experience a different level of challenges not only brought about by sleepless nights, stress, and physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. These were  aggravated by the overwhelming workload in a totally new medium, and the fact not everyone has the same resources to be able to survive this tedious remote learning setup. Also, not everyone has the same level of knowledge or familiarity with the use of technology for teaching and learning. Teachers even have the added responsibility of being a tech tutor/demonstrator, among others. In addition, instances of connectivity issues and power interruptions absolutely disrupt the teaching-learning process.

I for one did not expect that the work-from-home scenario would even be more challenging than the usual face-to-face classroom situation. The implementation of the remote learning system was far more demanding since it made our homes our study and/or workplaces as well. Thus, it became hard to draw the line between home vis-a-vis school or work matters. In fact, it even got to the point when school- or work-related stuff was no longer on an eight-hour setup. Like some teachers, I even had no choice but to tend to the queries of students up until midnight or the wee hours of the morning. Indeed, teaching-learning in the new normal is a test of patience.

Last month, the University of the Philippines earlier released a no fail policy this semester, where a grade of ‘4’ or ‘5’ shall not be given to students this semester. Other colleges and universities may or may not have the same policy, but the teachers’ discernment is very crucial in today’s educational situation. Being considerate should not be misconstrued as the lowering of standards. Teachers have to be very considerate and understanding in terms of deadlines and outputs, especially that our students come from all walks of life. When faced with the dilemma of whether or not to pass a student, perhaps it would be okay to give him or her the benefit of the doubt. Who knows, the student could have done better had it not been the new normal setup. Remember, we are still in the midst of a global pandemic.

News about vaccines against COVID-19 may ignite hope among all of us that this pandemic would soon come to an end. I know that a lot of us in the academe already miss being in our physical classrooms. However, in the continuation of this school year come 2021, one thing’s for sure for both teachers and students: it would be another bout of ‘survival of the fittest’.

Advanced Merry Christmas and let us all enjoy our ‘new normal’ sembreak!



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