Elementary teachers’ experiences and instructional challenges during the return to school after the COVID-19 closure in the Philippines

Potchong M. Jackaria
Teacher-II, Tandubato Primary School, Tawi-Tawi, Philippines
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As education started to recover from the impact of COVID-19, the Philippine Department of Education began to roll out pilot face-to-face classes. Hence, there is a need to explore teachers’ experiences regarding the preparations and challenges encountered during the reopening of classes after the COVID-19 closures. Specifically, this study explored teachers’ preparation and instructional challenges encountered during the first few weeks of reopening of classes. The study utilized a phenomenological research approach. Seven public elementary school teachers involved in the pilot face-to-face classes were purposively selected for the one-on-one interview. Each interview lasted for about 30-minutes and was tape-recorded. The researcher also conducted classroom visitations to understand better the context of the teachers’ responses. Data were then transcribed, translated, and analysed using a thematic analysis technique. The result shows that five themes emerged pertaining to teachers’ preparation for the reopening of classes. These include establishing health protocols, school physical improvements, instructional materials development, psychosocial preparation, and acquiring new teaching strategies. As for the instructional challenges encountered, the teachers expressed concern about the alarming number of non-readers and students who are mentally and socially unprepared. Other challenges include the difficulty of maintaining health protocols, the need for new teaching strategies, and challenges with time management. The findings suggest that comprehensive reading intervention and psychosocial first aid programs should be part of the school reopening strategy. Furthermore, the researcher recommends that teachers should be trained to handle students during the post-pandemic era.

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