Another year of teaching multigrade is about to end, yet some teachers in multigrade schools in Buguias, Benguet are still in search of answers to questions regarding the battles between their struggles and dilemmas in teaching combination or multigrade classes.
Teaching multigrade is an experimental process. Since most of the time, newly hired teachers are being appointed to multigrade schools without any extensive training or seminars. Nevertheless, teachers appointed for the job need to seek help from those with experiences in teaching multigrade, read books and surf the internet in order to have concrete knowledge in teaching. In doing these, teachers need ample time to identify, analyze, compare and choose what fits her, the pupils, the school, etc. There are many factors to consider before applying a teaching method to make it effective for the pupils.
But the most disturbing fact is that lesson planning alone takes the time of Multigrade Teachers. Regardless of the number of pupils, teachers still need to make lesson plans for the two grade level with all the subjects for each grade. Teachers need to browse one book to another of about 16 every day. Teachers need to read, analyze and choose which subject is the same, what teaching strategy to be used, and learning materials to be prepared if not available in the school.
In the DepEd system (DepEd Memorandum No. 291 s. 2008), teachers are given 6 hours teaching time, then 2 hours for lesson planning, remedial teaching, and other teaching-related activities.
However, oftentimes, the two hours is not enough for the multigrade teacher to finish the lesson plans with teaching aids. Because upon dismissal, the teacher needs to wait for the class to finish cleaning the room for about 20 minutes, and sometimes, teachers do the cleaning and fixing before sitting to start planning for the next day’s activities.
In the course of remedial classes, teachers need to provide more time with the pupils. That is why they either have to do their lesson plans at home or do it during class hours. Teachers give seat works to both classes while writing the lesson plans. Most often than not, teachers have good lessons plans but not executed well or not followed due to lack of preparation before delivering it.
During observation or inter-monitoring of school heads, teachers are well prepared with all the lesson plans and teaching aids so they could get a high score performance which is said to be some of the basis of their performance bonuses. But they could not deny the fact that pupils are still being left behind.
These are the remedies being done by most teachers in order to accomplish one of the ‘basis of salary’ as said by some school heads. Other teachers would say, “Caught me with no visual aids, but not without a lesson plan.”
During the Multigrade Teachers Seminar last January 5-9, 2017, lots of questions were raised by teachers and answers were provided, but such answers seem impossible when they got back to their stations. Same problems are being encountered like “How can I make my lesson planning faster and easier so I could prepare instructional materials for all the subjects? How can I attend to slow learners or pupils with disabilities every now and then?”
Teaching multigrade comes with a great reward. But a reward comes with a big challenge. This is geared towards the ultimate goal of teachers–to empower the minds of the young people to discover their full potential, enable them to create their own destiny in the global community and to become a responsible citizen and an enlightened leader who loves their country.