#StoryOfTheNation: What motivates teachers during the pandemic?

Students, parents, and teachers have been preparing for the opening of the new school year on Monday, October 5, which is World Teachers' Day.

The shift to distance learning is not an easy task, especially for students and teachers who have to adjust both mentally and financially for it.

Students who cannot afford to buy the necessary equipment for online classes resorted to a donation drive dubbed as #PisoParaSaLaptop on social media. Others who were unable to raise enough money opted for the printed modular learning approach to continue their education.

The shift has also challenged Filipino teachers who have to navigate an online-based learning environment and also produce and distribute printed modules for the whole school year. (READ: 3 case studies: How ready are Philippine schools for distance learning?)

In spite of such challenges, Filipino teachers have remained resilient and motivated to practice their profession for the sake of their students’ future.

For Mapua University teacher Charlotte Monteiro, her students motivate her to teach during the pandemic.

“Seeing them try their best to cope [with] distance learning and online classes gives me more reason to work harder as their teacher,” Monteiro said.

Henry Custodio II, a teacher from Culion National High School in the Palawan, is keenly aware of his role in molding his students' future.

Bagamat mahirap para sa amin, kailangan namin gawin ito kasi dito nakasalalay iyong kinabukasan ng mga kabataan at kahit papaano kami ay bahagi ng kanilang paglago.” 

(Even if [the shift to distance learning] is difficult for us, we need to do this because the future of the youth depends on it, and we want to be a part of their growth.)

Acknowledging teachers' sacrifice

Long before the pandemic, the country's public school teachers have been known to sacrifice a lot, including spending their personal money, to educate students especially those in far-flugh areas. Now, some of them have to shell ut some more to print their learning modules.

This is why teachers like Gladys Cruz from San Rafael Elementary School in Rizal hopes for more respect for teachers like herself, especially during the pandemic.

“Huwag ibalewala ang sacrifice ng mga teachers, kahit hindi dito sa amin sa Rizal, maging lalong lalo na sa far-flung areas na kung saan personal na gastos ng mga teacher ang module," Cruz said.

(Do not disregard the sacrifices of the teachers, not just here in Rizal, but in the far-flung areas as well, where teachers need to shell out their personal money to print modules.)

In the Philippines, the school community celebrate National Teachers' Month from September 5 to October 5.

This year's celebration, however, is quite different from the past due to the impact of the pandemic. Even the kick-off event hosted by the Department of Education and the National Teachers’ Month secretariat on September 5 was done virtually.

As a part of the celebration, MovePH, Rappler’s civic engagement arm, pays tribute to Filipino teachers. In this video campaign, we asked them about their motivations to teach despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.

While these teachers have no plans of giving up, they could still use everyone's appreciation and acknowledgement. This National Teachers’ Month is a perfect opportunity to say, “Thank you, teacher!” – Rappler.com