By Fernando T. Gacosta, Teacher III, Bartolome Sangalang NHS

After a grueling eighteen months of digital teaching and separation from my students, I
was very eager to return to the classroom with limited face-to-face instruction. How exhilarating
to see the faces of my students who were excited like me and to help them in their learning
adventures. What kept me motivated in teaching during this new normal?
I have been teaching for many decades already, seven years in a state university and private
colleges, two decades abroad, and almost eight years in public secondary school. An adage from
an anonymous author served as my inspiration to do the best I can. “Teaching affects eternity for
you don’t know where your teaching ends”. Honestly, I was not prepared to teach online when the
pandemic started. I was not familiar with Google Meet, Zoom, Google Classroom, and other
educational apps needed to facilitate my students’ learning. It took a while how to use these
technologies. I’m still adjusting to this virtual learning environment until now. With patience and
painstaking effort, I can now create a Google Meet link, and a Zoom link so that I can meet my
students virtually. I know how to schedule a virtual session, and how to assign others as co-hosts.
However there were instances when I was giving the virtual lecture, but my microphone was muted
for a couple of minutes. At times, I was playing my video clips presentation but it was not yet
shared with the learners.
Aside from distressfully teaching in an online environment, it was also a challenge on how
to motivate the students virtually. Sometimes it was not clear whether they were paying attention
or not to the virtual session since most of their mobile phone cam was turned off reasoning that
their Internet connection was slow and unstable. Hence, I needed to devise ways how to captivate
their interest so that a lively learning interaction occurs. I planned the lessons not too long
considering the learner’s short learning attention span every virtual session. I tried to show
absorbing video clips relevant to the topic for that session, and then asked viewpoint questions or
leading questions to involve them during our discussions. I assured them that every time they
respond or react to the lessons under consideration, they got a bonus point in their performance
I learned the value of communicating early and often, mostly thru the Messenger apps. I
found that giving generous commendations boosted the learner’s self-esteem and aroused their
interest in learning. I have come to understand the great value of building a fine relationship with
my students, becoming very flexible when appropriate, showing loving kindness and extreme
patience, and not getting easily irritated. For greater reasons, I’ll continue showing more empathy
for what they have been experiencing from the onslaught of this pandemic Meditating on
developing these qualities more fully helped me keep going, not giving up despite many limitations
and barriers. Indeed, many positive things emerged from this pandemic. The challenges made me
a better person, not a bitter one. Of course, these were not possible without God’s guidance and