After more than three weeks since the Ministry of Education (MoE) implemented online learning in view of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, most teachers have adapted with some seeing this as the future of learning or something that can be practised when a teacher is on leave.
The Bulletin interviewed several teachers from primary and secondary schools as well as sixth form centres to gather their experience on teaching online.
Senior teacher at Duli Pengiran Muda Al-Muhtadee Billah College Dr Faridah binti Abdul Hamid is grateful for the support from the MoE and in particular the college’s Multimedia Unit who trained them for online teaching and using Mircrosoft Forms.
She added that the major support is from the Brunei Darussalam Teacher Academy (BDTA) that helps teachers in terms of providing online courses and Webinars such as Microsoft Team and Microsoft Forms.
“Some of us are not well-versed with IT, but the support from various parties, particularly our principal, our administration, BDTA and MoE enabled us to learn the finer points. The support is vital for us to gain confidence to teach online as it is not the usual setting for everyone.”
She pointed out that having to teach ‘A’ Level students is an advantage as they are more mature and independent. Their teaching experience is different from teachers in secondary and primary schools where she thinks their challenges are much bigger.
Dr Faridah was well prepared for online teaching during the first term school break and she conducts her classes by giving notes. Her lessons start with the recitation of prayers and at times motivational YouTube videos for her students.
Her concern for her upper six students is that they will be sitting for their examinations so she gives them a lot of homework, which students submit via email or WhatsApp.
She also acknowledged the parents’ support. Although they are behind the scene, the parents support the teachers by encouraging their children and monitoring them.
Maswani binti Masri, a Years 9 and 11 teacher at Sultan Hassan Secondary School Temburong, shared that it was quite challenging in the first week as teachers and students embarked on this new learning system.
Her main challenge was students’ participation, especially when having classes online at a set timetable though not all students would be present. She created a WhatsApp group for students but another issue arose where a few students did not have a mobile phone and the only way to relay messages is through their neighbour or schoolmate.
On her lessons, Maswani uses Google Classroom though not all students are able to be involved due to financial issues.
“Home Learning Pack (HLP) is the only way to keep the students on track with their classmates but online learning is more advantageous as I give extra resources. Those who need clarifications can text me privately as some are too shy in the group chat and I will share it in the group for discussion.
“Coming to three weeks, except for students from less fortunate families, my classes have adapted to online learning and the momentum improves day by day,” Maswani said, adding that her students are cooperative and committed.
For teachers at primary level, it is quite challenging and although most adapted to online teaching, there are issues as the students are young and need assistance. Several teachers at primary schools shared that the first week was hectic as getting the attention of the young students was challenging. They also face issues such as students from underprivileged families and as in other levels, these students are given HLP.
For some primary school teachers, their mornings consist of giving instructions and classwork to students.
In the evening, they have a dialogue session with parents where they can raise issues in the session or seek suggestions, ideas and advice from teachers as well as be updated on their children’s progress.
Teachers under the Special Education Unit face their own challenges, particularly in getting the focus and attention of special students. These students cannot be pressured so teachers have to work harder and avoid them feeling pressured.
Although teachers are adapting well to their new teaching platform, some primary teachers have issues surfacing along the way both online and HLP students.
Nevertheless parents support teachers and ensure their children are doing what they are told and able to digest their studies during this virus outbreak.