“Education in the midst of pandemic is possible”, a quote full of hope from the PAFTE Region XI’s President Dr. Jocelyn H. Hua as she warmly welcomed all participants in the 1st Virtual Regional Student Congress with the theme “Capacitating Future Teachers in the New Normal” held on March 19. With almost 1,500 future teacher participants including prominent education professionals from different institutions in the region, the congress had been a great highlight as the PAFTE Region XI initiated a move this year to virtually web a huge educational network despite physical distance.
“We cannot afford to be complacent especially in this roughest time… Pandemic is never a reason for us to settle at the bottom, be stagnant, and endanger our education!”, added Dr. Hua. Hence inspired the objectives of the congress to make the participants acquire and develop mechanisms in a new normal setup, prepare them for future challenges in various teaching-learning scenarios, and equip them with a variety of learning techniques and approaches applicable in the season of new normal.
More so, Dr. Maricar R. Casquejo, Director IV of CHED Region XI graced the virtual congress by thanking all the Directors and Executive Officers of PAFTE Region XI for initiating educational innovations despite risky economic challenges in the present. Dr. Casquejo further stressed to all participants to “Never stop, never be contented of what you are told to do so”. She as well emphasized that teachers and future teachers need to upskill their competence to be sustainable and stay relevant. With that, prominent speakers and experts Dr. Felina P. Espique, Dean of School of Teacher Education and Liberal Arts from Saint Louis University, and Ruchela P. Gamao, Registered Guidance Counselor from the University of Southeastern Philippines were invited to impart their knowledge to prepare the future teachers in facing education amid critical times.
The program ran for eight hours from 8 am to 4 pm. In the morning, Dr. Felina P. Espique introduced the STRATEGIES FOR FLEXIBLE LEARNING. Dr. Espique started the capacitating training by inspiring students and empowering them that learning is inclusive and must be made accessible in times of crisis. The topics she gave immense emphasis on were the 4P’s of Flexible Learning: Place, Pace, Process, and Products, Different Learning Modalities, Models of Learning Modality, The Deming Cycle Strategy, and Planning and Leadership Requirements. Different emerging educational technologies like offline and online learning tools were also presented to students for them to explore and take advantage of to optimize the delivery of instruction despite the absence of physical teacher-student interaction. “As a transformative teacher, you must live up with the belief that there is a need to change, and that you must be willing to change”, highlighted Dr. Espique as she synthesized meaningfully her presentation.
Ms. Ruchela P. Gamao, then graced the afternoon session as she discussed MINDFUL LEARNING AMIDST PANDEMIC. Ms. Gamao motivated first all the participants by encouraging them to assess their stress levels in the present time and see it as an opportunity to seek healing anew. Ms. Gamao served the afternoon with highly relevant psychological concepts that describe the current behavior and attitude of learners in the new normal. She emphasized the focal points of Discipline, Overcoming Weaknesses, Motivation, Minimizing Procrastination, and Controlling Negative Emotions. During the session, all participants had undergone a 5-minute Laughter Yoga and Relaxation Exercise that bade a positive vibe throughout the session.
During open forum sessions, questions were fully addressed to students’ satisfaction and ignited interesting ideas and intellectual discussions. Hence, student participants had expressed their overflowing gratitude and commendations in Facebook Live and Zoom Meeting for both speakers as they went beyond the expectations from the primary objectives of the virtual gathering. “The webinar had a great impact on me. It taught us many things more than what I had vowed for as a future teacher. It was transformational!” witnessed Angel Grace B. Patongonon, a student from the University of Mindanao – Digos College. On top of that, the PAFTE Region XI immensely appreciated the gestures of both highly commendable speakers offering them certificates as a memento of their never-tiring support, for being generous for sharing thoughts, and for preparing the future teachers in their 21st-century battle.
When doubts had covered the minds of the young, opportunities have sought their way to shine. Through the virtual congress, hopes have sparked for the upcoming generation of teachers of the region to create something promising, something new, something creative beyond the conventions of traditional education as what the PAFTE Region XI always envisions for them.
Education never ceases
and so are we.
– quote from Dr. Jocelyn H. Hua