From November 2 to November 6, 2020, the Philippine Science High School -Western Visayas Campus (PSHS-WVC) conducted a one-week academic break for the scholars and teachers to relieve them from stress of the first quarter. Learning guides submissions were also addressed due to the immense amount of exercises and activities the scholars have to submit and the teachers have to check. Before the break, the scholars had to commit most of their time answering the learning guides to make sure they won’t have any late submissions or pile up their backlogs by any means.
While the heap of learning guides required to be submitted may be reasonable to ensure that the scholars are reading the materials, efforts are more appreciated when directed to what the scholars really need the most. Moreover, the accumulated responses of the scholars amidst their academic and mental challenges was a devastating blow to the PSHSS and that their feedback should also be considered.
There are scholars who adapted to the challenges brought by the new learning environment quite more easily than others and this may be due to the state of accessibility to the resources needed for distance learning. However, what about the scholars who don’t have a stable internet connection for online monitoring or consultation? What about those who don’t have the proper devices fit for the distance learning set-up?
“I have proper devices and also a proper internet connection. Our Wi-Fi connection isn’t that stable but my parents provide us mobile data in case our internet is slow. Students who don’t have the necessary resources are definitely burdened and it doesn’t only affect them because it’s extra hard but it can also make them feel left behind and they might lose motivation because they don’t have the same privilege as others do.” Jherica Umali mentioned.
“I live in a rural area far from town and the highway so the signal and internet connectivity in our area is as close to nothing. For me to get a signal, I would either have to go to town for connection and at the same time, also have to do my responsibilities as the eldest. Commuting is another challenge since there is only one association of tricycles that works in our community so it all depends on luck if I can make it [to class] in time,” JM Uy added.
It cannot be denied that there are scholars and even teachers who aren’t even able to adjust to the new mode of learning yet they are also hampered by the assessments they have to finish before due.
Retention of what the scholars have learned is also not guaranteed with the heavy workload that competes with their time. From non-graded activities to the graded ones, from the formative assessment to the alternatives, scholars are continuously balancing their time going through their lessons and answering exercises. When submitting outputs in the K-hub, scholars usually have to pass at least two exercises on one learning guide and this may take them more or less thirty minutes to finish. Scholars have to work on the learning guides in the alloted independent time to finish before the deadline and prevent backlogs. On top of that, they will have to study for upcoming quizzes, long tests, or the Quarterly Examinations that comprise about 75% of their grades in total depending on the subjects they are taking. Most of the slow learners have a hard time keeping up with the workload and they’d have to study harder to pass their subjects.
Lastly, scholars are prone to physical and mental stress as they are depriving themselves of rest. From the struggles Pisay scholars voiced out in the #PisayGiveUsABreak that trended on Twitter last October, most complained how their mental state has been plagued by issues in academics and by the pandemic. Additionally, skipped meals and sleepless nights were also some of the things that resulted from the amount of submissions in the distance learning set-up. In this sense, scholars are also subject to poor performance; therefore, hinders them to submit expected quality outputs.
Then there it was — “PSHS Implements Academic Break Amidst Challenges of Online Learning” a break, an academic ease, or simply, a time off of the computer screen is the commendable solution the PSHS-WVC can offer to the scholars. Access to the learning guides were also supported by the Curriculum and Instruction Division (CID) by delivering the materials to students in remote areas without stable internet connectivity. Moreover, learning guides submissions were eased and limited the deadlines in each school day so that they wouldn’t coincide with each other. Most importantly, scholars are frequently checked on by the teachers for their concerns or problems that need to be addressed and considered.
In conclusion, the immense submissions are questionable due to some learners who do not have the proper resources, those who have difficulty learning like fast-learners do, and those who are already mentally and physically drained in online learning. Keeping the scholars as well as the teachers in good shape and well-being while ensuring that students are able to learn effectively amidst the pandemic is a defined priority. Moreover, learning guides submissions are not to be treated as measures of how many all-nighters they pull but are the measures of how much the scholars persevere for the betterment of their capabilities. However, the campus has already made necessary adjustments and commendable interventions to promote a student-friendly environment for the scholars after discovering the difficulties they faced in the first quarter. An academic break after the end of every quarter will be conducted, learning guides submissions and their deadlines were eased, learning materials were delivered to the scholars who cannot access them, and even scholars with grades of 4.00 or 5.00 were also given a chance to comply with the requirements of their subjects.
Featured image by Alliyah Robles