Back on My Turf: My First Day Teaching in a Limited Face-to-Face Class

Photo taken during my Media and Information Literacy class. Photo by courtesy of Celine Perez

(This was first posted on my Facebook account. Limited face-to-face classes in our school started yesterday.)

Days before this special day, I was contemplating my teaching and classroom management skills. After almost two years of not handling physical classes, I am worried if I could deliver lessons just like before. There was doubting. There was fear. I brushed off the negative thoughts by preparing my lessons.

For the past two years, I made big adjustments in my teaching career. I can still remember my first time catering lessons through modular distance learning (MDL). I had a hard time adapting to the situation as I was taught to teach face-to-face. Throughout the MDL, my phone is inundated with messages from different people, from different group chats. It was overwhelming. There were times I wanted to call quits because of problems I encountered. As the days passed by, I learned to work in the new normal set-up. I tried my very best to be the teacher my learners need even I am not around them.

The night before the big day, I was busy preparing my slide presentations for my discussions. I appreciated the power of morph transition and hyperlinks. I made sure that I have something new to offer to my learners. I went to my bed, at 11 PM, fidgeting, thinking about what would happen the next day. I just prayed that everything would be okay.

The most awaited day came. I was in my full battle gear. I wore my Monday uniform, blue face mask, black shoes, school ID, laptop bag on my back, and I carried an eco-bag with two tumblers of water in it. There was excitement as I would meet my learners in flesh. Dealing with them online is difficult as some of them are hard to reach as their names on Facebook are reverse, in initials, or in hangul (Korean alphabet).

On my way, I saw a familiar scenario that my community has been longing for--- schoolchildren present on the roads. I arrived at the school ten minutes before seven. I joined my fellow teachers in facilitating the learners in observing safety protocols such as temperature checking and hand washing. After a few minutes, the bell rang calling all to attend the flag ceremony.

Selfie taken before the first flag ceremony with the learners after two years of physical class disruptions.

It was surreal to hear the voices of the learners singing the national anthem in unison. The school gymnasium was in white and green based on the clothes of the attendees of the flag ceremony. At that moment, I felt hope was creeping into me. The fear I had was subdued by optimism.

I started my class at 8:30 with Grade 12- GAs. For the first two minutes, my learners and I were liked playing jigsaw puzzles. We were like we test how to fit in the new setup. I made sure that they are comfortable. At that time, I was like attending my first class as a public school teacher. I remember how I came to unfamiliar territory as I was a former college instructor before that. I maneuvered my confidence and stood in front of them with authority as I know I am back on my turf---my classroom. There I know I can handle the teaching-learning process. There I know I can give my entirety to them.

Selfie taken during my MIL class.

The fun in learning is unmatched when it is attained in the classroom. The delight of the students listening to you, their nonverbal cues being noticed, the voices that build interaction, all of these are more evidently visible in face-to-face set-up than the distance learning. These are things I miss as a classroom teacher. These are things I live for. These are the moments making me love the teaching profession more despite the pains.

I hope this will continue in the next few days. The learners must be in the school.

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