ALL OUR lives have been hit hard by this pandemic. This month when classes are supposed to be ending in a normal school calendar, I would like to highlight how those affected by the “new normal” are adjusting and coping. My friend Ruth Morales shares her experience as a teacher.
“My credentials and extensive experience as an educator gave me the confidence to embark on a new full-time job even in my 50s. But never did I expect that my first semester as a college instructor would be incomparable to any of the years in my teaching profession.
It was a few months after the pandemic was declared when I got the job to teach at a state university in Bukidnon. I was ecstatic about the prospect of being in a provincial community, meeting new friends, and influencing the youth on a beautiful campus with lots of trees and fresh air.
I envisioned myself surrounded by young people, engaging them in discussions on academic topics and on any life issues. I did not realize that it would be 100% virtual teaching the whole year! Nevertheless, I enjoyed the new routine of reporting to a beautiful campus and working in a friendly community.
Being Davao City-based, I thought I could just take a bus to come home every weekend. But a 14-day quarantine required each time I crossed the border made me and my family decide to move from Davao to Bukidnon. It was unexpected yet everyone was thankful to be relocated in a smaller city where movement was less restricted.
The required quarantine in a public facility was just one of the many adjustments we had to go through. There were many more that brought tears and frustrations. The biggest challenge of the sporadic signal and weak internet connection was the obvious one. The deeper battle was the frustration of not being able to connect face-to-face and heart-to-heart with my students.
The absence of physical meetings deprived me of the joy that usually sustained me as a teacher. My heart was also spent absorbing sad stories of how my students cope with the lack of gadgets and internet connections. I abhorred poverty and the disparity between rich and poor. I struggled and I grew weary emotionally.
Just before the semester ended, I made some resolutions. I surrendered to the fact that the battle was too great for me to fight. It’s global and I was not the only one struggling. I kept my focus off myself and began to see the bigger picture. I had to embrace the new normal and be open to learning new ways and ideas in my profession.
Recently, I met with a panel of interviewers at school. I was asked how I handled negative comments. I spontaneously admitted that as a feeling-person I get easily affected by negative comments and that though I take them as opportunities to improve, they often make me cry. I didn’t hesitate to show my vulnerability. I didn’t pretend to be tough.
This pandemic has shown me how weak I am and that there are many things that are beyond my control. Moving to teach in a new location brought me to my knees to humbly pray for a miracle daily. I always find myself asking God for supernatural intervention in my daily tasks, not just as a teacher and as a student, but also as a wife and a mother.
I survived the semester teaching a 24-unit load while also taking 12 units in a graduate program. I heard from my superior that there were no negative comments on the evaluation results. None of my students failed and I also got A’s in my graduate program. I can only boast of my God and of how He sustained me.
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