by MARY NICOLE P. MIRANDA
THE COVID-19 outbreak postponed almost everything this year — but never the learning.
In compliance to physical distancing and mass gathering restrictions, schools and universities shifted to virtual learning to get the academic year started amid the pandemic. As he adjusts to an online environment, Asst. Dean Alejandro Bernardo shares his experiences in the new normal and how it has changed his perspective on being an educator.
Working from, for home
For Dr. Bernardo, working from home means being both a father and an educator simultaneously.
When the first case of COVID-19 was recorded in Manila last March, he already expected that life pre-pandemic would not last. He anticipated that it would greatly affect his work, his schedules, and most especially, his family.
“My worries include meeting personal and family needs and how to handle work-related functions given the limitations at that time. The willingness and the ability to adjust to the situation are of paramount importance,” he says.
In these times, his family and co-workers give him the strength to keep going. He also draws inspiration from his students striving academically despite rough times.
Dr. Bernardo maintains his rest period after attending to his work responsibilities from the comforts of his home. Over-exhaustion from work might be more prevalent as the lines between work and leisure are blurred, but he still remains productive.
“Turning one’s bedroom into a classroom is unforgettable! Not to mention that at some point, I taught with my laptop on top of an adjustable ladder as there were no tables available at home,” he adds as he reminisces about the lengths he had to go for the sake of conducting online classes.
Embracing the new normal meant removing the fine line between social media and education, to the extent of staying online 24/7 to accomplish requirements and connect with peers.
To make ends meet, AB ensures that the faculty and staff are gearing up toward the new normal through conducting full online classes flexibly to meet with the students’ lifestyles at home.
“The University provided training for all faculty members, which equipped them with the needed pedagogical skills and acumen. AB has also assigned more e-learning specialists who will assist our faculty members in using Blackboard and other teaching-and-learning platforms. A pedagogical lead for AB has also been appointed,” he shares optimistically.
Dr. Bernardo also highlighted the University’s immediate actions in addressing some technical problems to avoid interference when classes start. It may be hard for him to conduct classes online, but the support he receives from the University helps him carry on.
Classroom in a click
As a professor, Dr. Bernardo is also doing his best to maximize the opportunities that can be achieved through online learning without compromising the quality of education. Despite the seemingly endless tasks he needs to accomplish, he still finds a way to enjoy the time with his students during online classes.
Dr. Bernardo believes that because of the strain caused by the pandemic, it is essential to keep the mood positive during online classes.
“My kids’ noise during class hours amuses the students and my kids saying goodbye every time I end my classes is, to me, something that lightens up everyone’s mood!” he shares.
Online classes may be fulfilling, but there are still several obstacles such as students’ inaccessibility to learning materials.
“Intermittent internet connectivity is indeed the biggest challenge. Another challenge would be staying in front of the laptop for several hours which causes me digital fatigue. Not seeing or hearing my students converse, discuss, respond sometimes leads to frustrations,” he says.
In response, Dr. Bernardo believes that listening and understanding his students’ needs, especially during these trying times, can help resolve these problems. As an educator, he believes that he must break the barriers that obstruct the learners from their right to quality education.
As the whole AB community adjusts and strives through the new normal in preparation for another year of learning, Dr. Bernardo has this piece of advice for Artlets: “[W]e just have to brave every inch and guise of our ‘next normal.’ It is the only way.” F
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in Vol.56, Issue No. 1 of the Flame. View the entire issue through this link: https://issuu.com/abtheflame/docs/the_flame_volume_56_issue_1