Students show off their DIY recipes from home to their classmates. They have a virtual “fiesta” to celebrate Nutrition Month.
31 August 2020
As early as May of this year, when the country’s leaders were heard suggesting that schools may remain closed throughout the year, the school’s officers quickly initiated a series of steps to ensure that teaching would continue. A number of our valuable teachers had already been displaced by the move to Rodriguez last year, and two more were displaced this year by the unexpected stoppage of classes in late March.
From the series of webinars that deluged educators’ computers in May, it was clear that the education landscape was rudely disrupted and was being reshaped into forms that would make things never the same again. We studied the various modalities being explored by education bureaus around the world, and we did so even as our families and friends scrambled to make sense of our work, businesses, farming activities and enterprises. Children were at risk of having to stay out of schools to avoid the Corona Virus for a very long time.
The teachers studied their options, and explored possibilities with the parents of our former students. We all worked together to make our school continue serving our new neighborhood. Happily for us, the parents did not want their children to stay at home without a program of study for a whole year; some of our teachers did not want to be without work, and our school officials did not want to be closed so soon after our introduction into this beautiful new community.
We studied, we planned, and we revised our program of action as we constantly monitored DepEd guidelines for private schools.
First, we drafted and revised our curricula because online learning called for shorter teaching times. We explored “modular learning” but since the public schools were more into that modality, we felt that we better put our efforts into services that could not be easily obtained elsewhere so quickly.
Next, we revised our goals based on the Most Essential Learning Competencies defined by the DepEd.
Third, we searched for materials that would serve as independent work for students to supplement their supervised activities with the teacher. We found a suitable partners in education sites from overseas, which we found to have worksheets, workbooks, games and lessons that fitted well with most elements in our curriculum for grade school. Many educators abroad opened their resources for use by other countries in the spirit of helping those with lesser resources (money and time) to cope with the crisis. The materials opened by DepEd to private schools were very helpful as well.
Fourth, we searched for a user-friendly platform, and found Google Classroom most suitable and easy to use. However, Google took time to approve our application as an educational institution with a non-profit and a 501-C status. We waited and waited until we could wait no longer. Just one week prior to school opening (August 3, 2020), we decided to go for NeoLMS.
NeoLMS is a wonderful Learning Management System from the point of view of school management. It has everything. It is so complete and once we got the hang of it, simply found it lovable. It is like a library to us. So full of possibilities. We are truly grateful to the staff behind Neo for establishing our portal (obccschoolcom.neolms.com). They guided us through the birthing process with very quick replies and friendly customer service. Still, during our first week of school, we were deluged with queries and difficulties from all sides (parents,teachers and students) and in the end, we simply had to give up NeoLMS in favor of Google Classroom which finally gave its approval for the school as a GSuite account.
Google Classroom makes online teaching and learning breezy and easy, and we are happy to have been allowed to use it with all the unlimited storage space, personalized email addresses plus many other perks open to a GSuite user. We are once again happy Google customers. We admit we had sour faces and did not like Google anymore when our GSuite application was long in coming.
The decision to open classes last August 3 was deliberate on our part because we felt we owed it to our students of last year to make up for learning time lost since the school closure in March. We wanted to continue the tradition of always opening classes on the first Monday of August.
During the past two weeks, we have been happily learning along with our students and their parents on how to google-meet, how to share screens, how to upload and download files, mute/unmute mics at the right time, how to bookmark pages, how to prepare and submit slides, how to login and logout, and why pay attention to the picture on the right side of the google page, and the three /nine dots alongside it. We learned some online courtesies too, like not speaking all at the same time, and to raise our hands to speak, just like in our classrooms of long time ago!
Having adjusted to the technicalities of working on laptops, pcs, smartphones and ipads, we look forward to learning efficiently and fast given the limited time we have for interactions online.
We are happy that the recent developments have made the OBCCS family bigger and wider- for now we have students from as far as Riyadh, Paranaque, Malabon, Navotas, Rizal and Quezon City. One of our teachers reports to class from a city in Mindanao. Students are on time (well, when they learned how to work with meet links!) as they need not go through traffic, nor walk to school. I hear them beginning to enjoy jokes and conversations online. They also have songs and exercises, just like in a “physical’ school. In most activities, their parents are there by their side, learning and teaching along with us.
This is the new normal that is unfolding before our very eyes. We are happy that God has made it possible for OBCCS to continue serving our community.
Anji B. Resurreccion
President, OBCCS Board of Trustees