By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – A silver lining of the coronavirus pandemic would be a generation of independent learners. Two FilAm teachers here said that increased independent learning is a result of the current online classes.
Math teacher Ramil Buenaventura said during an interview with Issues & Inspiration digital talk show, noted that “blended learning” will be the trend of the education sector, where technology is integrated in the classroom for the young students.
“Blended learning is good training for children to learn on their own. This (pandemic) has actually a good purpose for them. We would have more independent learners,” Buenaventura quipped.
Buenaventura teaches Math for middle school students at the St. Joan of Arc Catholic School in Jackson Heights. The pandemic has brought out the technological savvy in him. He runs a YouTube blog, Rampage Math, for his middle school and high school students to catch up with their lessons.
High school and college teacher Ronie Mataquel, on the other hand, said that remote learning won’t stop after the pandemic. “It is the trend now – technology. It is funny how we said that the 21st century would all be about technology. But hindi pa pala tayo ready. During the pandemic, we have all learned a lot.”
Mataquel noted the prospects of making 1st and 2nd year high school and college to be online, particularly Algebra and Trigonometry. In the later years, the students can choose to be in the classroom.
“Shortages of classrooms may not be a problem because we can streamline. Students can opt to go online instead of forcing them to school,” Mataquel said.
He teaches Math and remedial classes at the John Bowne High School in Flushing, the largest high school in the city, and at NYU.
According to Buenaventura, the teachers only had a two-day crash course on using zoom platform in March this year in preparation for the lockdown. On the Monday after the training, they were all on board for their online classes.
The New York school system generously offered technologies for teachers to use that actually became overwhelming. “We experimented on various apps. I never experienced using zoom before,” Buenaventura said during the interview.
Issues & Inspiration was launched on November 28, 2020 with Grace Labaguis of Synergy Production and Marketing and Marivir Montebon of OSM! Online Magazine and WICCAFE as co-hosts.
Teaching strategies for effective online teaching
Mataquel and Buenaventura are both recognized for their effective teaching abilities in their respective academic communities and the city government as well.
During the pandemic, their challenge was to make their students stay focused on their online classes vis-a-vis the distractions at home.
Mataquel said he had employed such exciting strategies such as educational games like Jeopardy to stir the energy in his virtual classroom. He also gave additional grade points as incentives to those who presented their homework in class.
It came to a point where Mataquel would receive emails from his students urging him to present their answers to the zoom class on the following day.
Buenaventura, on the other hand, would tell his students to go to his YouTube blog Math Rampage and watch his Math videos for enhanced learning, and for the others to catch up. He prepares two video content per week. “I also have an interest there. When I grow old, I can just tell my students to go to my blog,” he mused.
Unlike the relative ease of teaching in the Philippines, teaching in New York had been tough for Buenaventura and Mataquel because of its diversity.
“You really don’t know where the students are coming from,” Mataquel recounted. “When I was a new teacher, I called up parents and talked to students in order to get to know them better.”
To be effective, a teacher needs to be able to adapt to the needs of their students. “We need to know the social and emotional condition of the students,” he noted.
Buenaventura concurred with Mataquel on the need to build relationships among students in order to be effective. “It was so tough in the early years. But with administrative and teacher support, we got by.”
He also noted that teachers do role modeling at school. “We have this gaya (follow) style where we follow our co-teachers who are effective in doing a particular task.”
For Mataquel, the pandemic has truly tested his effectiveness as a teacher. As for the students, he opined that they will prevail over the challenges of distraction if they choose to. #