Volunteer teacher in Canubing braves toughest roads to teach struggling learners
Canubing, CALAPAN CITY- Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear raincoat and put on a pair of rain boots, and are armored with white board and a great deal of passion for touching the lives of their students.
Propelled by her strong desire to support the delivery of quality education amidst the pandemic, a 21-year-old volunteer teacher Princess Ann Almoneda strides the damp and muddy roads worsened by heavy rain to aid struggling learners of Canubing National High School in their modular distance learning.
Almoneda considered becoming a volunteer teacher as she thought of the teaching experience she could gain from such a challenging task like this during this time of pandemic. She decided to take on the arduous challenge since she believed it would equip her with the skills she needed while waiting for a teaching job.
Almoneda is a graduate of Mindoro State College of Agriculture and Technology with a degree Bachelor in Secondary Education major in Mathematics. She passed the licensure examination for teachers last December 1, 2019.
As soon as she heard the news that the Department of Education was looking to tap volunteers and education graduates who were willing to help with the learning delivery during the pandemic, she did not think twice to volunteer in her alma mater for she knew it would benefit her teaching career.
Almoneda is an alumna of Canubing National High School. She started in this volunteer teaching last 28th of September 2020 along with the other volunteer teachers in Canubing National High School who become her companion in this endeavor.
However, her current situation is far beyond what she imagined she would be doing after having passed the licensure examination for teachers. She did not expect that her journey would begin at a time where the country is saddled with a national health concern – the coronavirus disease.
The ideal learning environment she prepared herself to deal with shifted from the four corners of a classroom to far flung communities where her students reside. Some of her students are from the remote areas of Malamig and Baruyan in Calapan City.
Yet, strong-willed and determined, she willingly accepted the task and braced for whatever obstacle she might confront along the way. This includes traversing and defying the toughest routes to her students’ house.
Fully geared by her raincoat and boots on rainy days, Almoneda treads the difficult paths to her students’ house to teach and aid them in their modular learning. This is nothing new to her especially during rainy days where she has to walk on field embankments and the roads are muddy.
“Since malayo ang pinupuntahan ko na students, isa sa challenges na nararanasan ko ay yung maglakad sa pilapil at kapag maulan sobrang maputik yung daanan,” she exclaimed.
Almoneda even acquired a motor vehicle in installment basis to provide herself ease as she travels everyday to several remote communities.
“Malalayo po yung mga bahay ng mga student na handle ko. Mayroon sa Malamig, Baruyan, at sa Canubing II. Araw araw ko sila kailangang puntahan at ma-guide sa pagsasagot nila ng modules nila. Kaya kinailangan kong kumuha ng sarili kong motor kahit hulugan para mas mapadali yung pagpunta ko sa kanilang lugar”, she stated.
Still, because she does not receive any salary from her volunteer teaching, she also experiences financial difficulties.
“Mahirap din po sa part ko especially financially dahil kailangan ko mag-allot ng pera para sa gasolina. Minsan nga naranasan ko na masiraan ng motorsiklo at maubusan ng gasolina,” she added.”
Since she is dealing with struggling learners, she is also challenged by the learning needs of each one them. With that said, she had to employ some strategies and practices she learned before to aid her students in learning the competencies.
“Nagdadala ako ng white board para makapag-conduct pa rin ako ng discussion ng kaming dalawa lang. Doon ko sinusulat yung mga key points na kailangan nilang matandaan”, she mentioned.
Most of the learners Almoneda handles have difficulty in reading and comprehension, and particularly in word recognition. As a Mathematics major, this has posed a challenge to her in addressing their needs.
“Tinuturuan ko pa rin sila magbasa kahit nahihirapan sila makarecognize ng mga simpleng salita sa English. Minsan, ako na rin ang nagbabasa tapos ita-transalate ko sa Tagalog para maunawaan nila”, she said.
With all these challenges confronting her every single day, she always thinks the very reason why she took on this task – to help them learn. This keeps her moving forward.
Despite the difficulties she had to surmount every day, Almoneda still manages to find something that will give her the drive to continue with her great enterprise.
“Kapag nakakaramdam ako ng sobrang pagod, ang nakakapagmotivate sakin ay yung mga student ko na sina Harold at Kim kasi nakikinig talaga sila at nakikita ko na nag-iimprove sila”, she uttered.
Department of Education, in response to the “now normal” education setup, has rounded up most essential learning competencies in all learning areas and disciplines. This is to provide focal point among the great deal of competencies which students originally have to master before the pandemic started.
The moment she saw that her students were able to grasp the lesson that she taught them provided her with a sense of fulfillment and so much happiness. This even rekindles more the fire burning in her heart that pushes her to continue with this great cause.
“Isa pa, sobrang appreciative nila. At dahil doon, mas lalo ko sila gustong turuan para matuto sila, maging masigasig sa pagaaral”, she added.
Getting to know them at least also provided her a way to figure out the best strategies she can employ when conducting classes with each one of them. She also encourages them to fantasize about the future through quality education.
Almoneda recognized the growing concern to address learning needs of those who have difficulty in learning the competencies. She emphasized as well how her students really want to learn since they have their own dreams to reach someday.
“Minsan nakukuwento nila sakin na may mga pangarap sila na gustong makamit. Kaya lalo kong hinuhusayan sa pagtuturo sa kanila dahil nakikita ko na pursigido sila sa pangarap nila. At ang maging kabahagi ako sa pangarap nilang iyon, nakakataba na ng puso”, she continued.
With all the unique encounters which appear before her as she goes on with this undertaking, Almoneda has come to realize the value of the share she has in making her students learn, especially during this sticky situation. She also was enlightened with the role she has to play in helping them with their learning journey.
“Everyday, nare-realize ko na need talaga nila ng teacher na magtuturo at magmomotivate sa kanila para magpatuloy”, she voiced out.
Due to the threats posed by the pandemic, there has been a paradigm shift in teaching and learning situation, leaving the education system to develop and implement various learning delivery modalities which can help learners to continue with their education in the comfort of their own homes.
Canubing National High School has been implementing the modular distance learning modality for months now. Yet, Almoneda has realized the disadvantage this modality has when it comes to students who lack literacy skills.
Not all of these modalities mentioned seem to be applicable to all learners specially to struggling learners that she handles. Because of this, she steps up efforts in making this modular distance learning modality way easier and lighter for her students through her strategies and approaches she discovered and has been employing whenever she reaches out to them.
Despite all these, Almoneda has learned to love more her profession. She has seen herself the fruits of her hardwork and the gains she has from taking on this arduous challenge but a fulfilling task.
“Mahirap maging isang volunteer teacher, pero fulfilling din. Maraming challenges at pagod, pero marami ding blessings in disguise”, she highlighted.
Photos taken by Princess Ann Almoneda