Repurposing: The ‘New Normal’ in Teaching

 

March 10, 2020 could have been my last weekly meeting with my high school students under my small radio class. For that day, I would supposedly listen to their final viewpoints about our whole school year run.

I tend to be more student-centric in terms of my teaching style, and this is the reason why I would accommodate their evaluation for this specialized course’s improvement next school year. They even bought a farewell cake for me in advance to be part of our bonding. Sadly, this finale never happened as one-week suspension of classes was declared in Metro Manila a day earlier.

The sooner we learned about it, we had found ourselves off-guard under the community quarantine protocols due to Covid-19 pandemic. It was sadly understandable as schools could be one of the intimate spaces where the virus infection might spread out.

From Broadcasting to Teaching

Thanks to my whirlwind experience in TV documentary production and radio news reportage, I got a chance to teach broadcasting on a part-time basis starting 2015.

Despite my numerous setbacks before, specifically in radio DJ auditions, I was able to share what I deemed to be relevant about the industry. Preaching it effectively amid the youngsters’ high dependence on new platforms have been the usual challenge, either in a classroom or inside a broadcasting laboratory. 

Some of the first students in my teaching career, doing their signature McDo pose

Eventually, my drastic and unplanned career shift became my so-called moral duty as I have also started pursuing part-time teaching in different schools concurrently. I arrived at a new, repurposed vision to become an effective and responsible catalyst of every student’s passion and goals. I would like to go further than whatever the performance evaluations say about me.

I aim to pursue teaching longer, seeing myself again in a conventional face-to-face classroom set-up.

I aim to pursue teaching longer, seeing myself again in a conventional face-to-face classroom set-up.

However, the ongoing pandemic, the continuous lockdowns, and the fears every school will face under the “new normal” have gotten me (and possibly all my colleagues) hanging by a thread.

I am only a part-time faculty but I know that my thoughts are still valid as I have been exposed to various practices of academic institutions. I understand the need to reshape my mindset and skills to catch up and rise beyond the shock inflicted by the pandemic.

I can describe this struggle as “repurposing,” a broadcast jargon which means realigning or reediting the content that will be delivered to other foreign channels or platforms (like a local TV show to be aired on a Filipino pay channel overseas). 

The ‘New Normal’ in Teaching

Teaching in general will be drastically “repurposed” should the “new normal” start. For most private schools, they will temporarily settle on pure online or blended sessions as they have the modernized resources and logistics.

Inside the school’s radio laboratory

I would like to focus my practical realizations on some student matters related to my experience. If I compare the upcoming scheme to my radio classes before, there will be no (or lesser) sensible conversations in the laboratory after news reading or ad-libbing exercises. The students will expect me to give comments more diligently on their news scripts and pre-recorded projects via e-mail. Furthermore, any audio-leaning events that will imply mass gathering, such as school fair concerts and intramurals, will be highly disregarded.

One of the photos of my class’ radio tour last January 2020, few weeks before the start of the Luzon lockdown.
Outdoor school activities like this might be out of the school calendar— for now— due to the ongoing pandemic.

Meanwhile, If I also relate the “new normal” to my other classes in research and social sciences, every lecture maybe conducted through videoconferencing in the bedroom. There will be no (or lesser) bizarre gimmicks during class recitations like my “spinning the wheel” technique accompanied by a projector. No (or lesser) sideline anecdotes and breather jokes will be conveyed should I find them sleeping or distracted in class. Research papers may be sent electronically, and stopwatch-guided online quizzes will become a trend, thus missing the scent of printed papers and red ballpens.  

With lesser supervision, students may just passively submit the multitude of performance tasks without being more critical. There will be no after-class encounters where I can personally say hello, and any interactions to keep their sanity will now be coursed through emails and direct messages.

My students together with podcaster and media friend Ceej Tantengco (in yellow) as guest speaker in one of our sessions

Social forms of learning and stress relievers will be greatly distanced. Even my personal queries to my team leaders about my weird classroom performance, missed syllabus targets, and grade concerns will be restricted to communication over smartphones and computers.

Because of the “new normal,” teachers are now opted to plan unlimited possibilities on their pedagogy within the limited features of a monitor, let alone the online disruptions of memes, social media challenges, and misinformation. Their tasks will inevitably be compared to the endeavors of online language instructors and business process outsourcing personnel who are also striving to work at home during this crisis, and those out-of-school youth who are practicing self-education due to financial challenges.

Like the “new normal” implications the K-12 system gave us before, the teachers will be compelled to “repurpose” once again to adapt on these unprecedented demands.

A group photo with a different class during their senior high school graduation

Repurposing Teaching for the Students

As much as I need to think first of my savings, rank, skills set upgrade, and tendencies to quit, I cannot evade my worries on how my students will cope up. Not all of us are blessed with the resources, connections, or tenacity to take the risks of the “new normal.” Thorough considerations must be made in terms of their respective plights.

With technology as either a friend or foe in these challenging times, any virtual or physical negligence must not be committed.

A group photo with one of my college classes

Despite the country’s erratic focus on education, the public will still judge teachers regarding the effectiveness of these adjusted learning schemes. As educators, we should prepare ourselves while keeping our eyes on the government’s plans for the education sector.

Our role as second parents to students will now be restricted to gadgets, e-mails, group chats, and learning management systems. While these may assure convenience and composure in performing the job, these will further test our oath to bring encouragement, patience, and compassion.

The repurposed challenge for my colleagues is to uphold the profession’s nobility, the students’ motivation, and the citizenry’s inclusivity amidst the pandemic’s threats on conducive learning. As this crisis is far from over, I enjoin my teaching colleagues as we face these uncertainties together, regardless of my work status as a part-timer. This is mostly because of the repurposing I have made for my preferred vocation I wish to carry on—with or without a recognition in return.

I believe that addressing the next generation’s uncertainties is a crucial point in choosing teaching as an enduring job. This is a tough career alternative, but I cannot give it up easily. 

A group photo during a classroom set-up speaking engagement last February 2020

[Entry 310, The SubSelfie Blog]

About the Author:

Paul Michael Perez is a former broadcast practitioner for GMA News and Public Affairs and DZUP 1602 AM. He has been a part-time instructor for various private schools, specifically St. Paul College Pasig, iACADEMY, and Far Eastern University – Alabang. His interests include media studies, documentaries, film appreciation, and even manga and anime as a low-key otaku. He dreams to build his own podcast show despite the weirdness in the way he speaks. Perez took up Bachelor in Communication Research and Master in Communication major in Broadcast Journalism at Polytechnic University of the Philippines – Manila.

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