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BACOOR CITY, Philippines - The pandemic is a strong enemy, indeed. But SSI will not cower to it; in fact, it has prepared for it: the iLEAD way.
As DepEd banned physical classes due to Covid-19, SSI pushed on with delivering quality education and excellence to its students via online learning through several applications and learning management systems (LMS). The concept is not entirely foreign, as this was already implemented during the last few months of SY 2019-2020, when the country was put in several levels of quarantine.
To respond to this need, iLEAD (Institutes of Learning for Educators’ Advancement and Development), the school’s in-house training for teachers, also underwent several changes to ensure that it remains true to its promise: teachers delivering quality education, but now, sans the face-to-face classes.
Boot Camp: The Online Learning Arsenal
What better way to prepare than to know the new tools for the trade?
This year’s iLEAD focused on introducing and immersing the teachers to the tools that they will be using to deliver online distance learning: Genyo LMS for Preschool and Elementary; Quipper School Premium LMS for Junior and Senior High School; Zoom for all synchronous classes; and a vast collection of software that can better aid in the creation of content: Canva, YouTube, among others.
Moreover, iLEAD not only saw to it that teachers are knowledgeable of the tools available for them for the conduct of online distance learning; the curriculum itself underwent several changes to meet the MELC (Most Essential Learning Competencies) for each subject, whilst staying true to SSI’s call to cultivate and improve the Multiple Intelligences of each student.
School Principal Daniel Castillo, in his response to our questions, shared that training in preparation for the New Normal was rolled out first to the members of the middle management, and was then extended to the teachers.
Deterring the “Quarantine Ambush”
The redeclaration of Cavite back to MECQ in August, a few weeks before the initial start of classes, was but a small speed bump that caused no significant delay to the speed and direction of the training for teachers.
Prefect for Research and Faculty Development Lindsay Yap and iLEAD Manager and Academic Consultant Dr. Pearl Zotomayor stated in their response to Linkage that even if redeclaration of MECQ required employees to work from home, it did not drastically change the training of the teachers since the face-to-face sessions were already done by July.
“By August, the teachers were equipped with the knowledge and familiarity in using the various ODL (Online Distance Learning) softwares and platforms,” Yap said.
Zotomayor also shared the support that SSI Management gave during the course of the training, specifically on making sure that health protocols are followed and that the technological requirements of the teachers are met.
Yap also added that even at home, teachers held online classroom demonstrations, with fellow teachers and members of management and consultants as audiences.
Winning not just the Battle, but the War
SSI teachers believe that the modifications in the iLEAD training have given them the tools to help them deliver quality education, even in the absence of physical interaction with students.
Elementary School Araling Panlipunan teacher Abeer Napoco acknowledges the importance of face-to-face classes, but affirms that the iLEAD sessions helped to somehow bridge the gap by making lessons more interesting to students.
“...The school has provided us with a learning management system which we can use for distance learning, premium accounts of Zoom so that we may be able to have synchronous classes and we have been trained to be able to use such tools proficiently in the seminars that have been held in the past days of iLEAD,” he said.
Meanwhile, ES 1 and 2 Science Teacher Joyce Cruzat shared that the new normal has tested her adaptability, and that the training helped her realize the importance of trust in oneself and others.
“I can proudly say that this year’s iLEAD training did not only prepare me for the big change, but it also pushed me to equip myself even more and helped me realize that the members of the SSI community can succeed together,” she said.
Yap is also confident that teachers are prepared for the new normal, with the training and support provided to them prior to the start of classes.
Much as there are hesitations and questions to the success or failure of education in the New Normal, SSI has always proven its resilience and responsiveness to the ever-changing times: a true trait of an institution espousing excellence.