Saturday, July 4, 2020

Teacher on Center Stage: Francis Jim Tuscano (2 of 2)

Here is part 2 of the interview with Francis Jim Tuscano. He has five tips for teachers and school leaders who are moving into the new normal in the field of education.

2. There seems to be a mad scramble to get things in order, to be ready and to transition to Blended Learning. What are five important key concepts that school leaders and teachers need to be aware of when applying the BL approach?

So, to answer this, I just want to make a clarification. Blended learning approach can be understood in two ways: first, as an instructional approach where there is a combination of face-to-face learning and independent use of technology in the classroom (physical); and second as a modality to deliver remote learning, which means that there are certain days when students and teachers are in the physical classroom and the rest of the days of the week are meant for home-based (online or print-based) distance learning. 

I certainly believe that blended learning might be the new normal. We think of this as when teachers and students are now flexible enough and possess adaptability skills to switch from one mode of learning to another, especially when new waves of pandemic arise that can cause prolonged school closures. To enable this, I have the following main principles for blended learning:

a. Ensure equitable access to learning devices and Internet among students and teachers. Adoption of Edtech should always be anchored on the idea of equity so that everyone gets to enjoy and reap the benefits of tech integration. To do this, understand the context of students and teachers, whether they have learning devices or reliable internet connection at home. 

b. Prepare the students and teachers. Teachers will need to learn new digital skills to teach with technology. There should be relevant and meaningful professional development to ensure that they are well equipped to design, implement, and sustain a class with Edtech integration. We also need to make sure that the student are equipped with enough digital skills to navigate an online learning environment. Orienting them as well as teaching them with the needed ICT skills can greatly help. For parents of young students, involving parents is important so that they can extend guidance and support for their children in using technology tools

c. Sound pedagogy before technology as the main principle in designing learning experiences. Teachers should anchor pedagogy on student-centered or student-driven learning. The use of technology should enable or support the achievement of the learning goals. Educators should not design a learning experience around a technology. 

d. Digital citizenship matters more that ever because students are now moving in an online learning environment. Students must be taught how to safeguard themselves from digital threats such as cyberbullying, digital identity theft, and many more. Moreover digital citizenship also reminds students to practice self-discipline and control as they balance the use of technology for studying, leisure, entertainment, or even family connection. Schools must always ensure that there is a digital citizenship program that teachers and students can implement and follow.

3. What should classroom teachers look out for on the first day of school under the the ”new normal”?

Before starting any academic activity or learning experience, I would recommend that teachers get to know their students first so that they can start building an online community. Build a sense of trust and belonging with students. Build class routines and “rituals” that would make students feel comfortable and familiar with one another. It really matters that teachers understand the context of their students even before starting their class. 

4. What keeps Jim Tuscano awake at night? 

Right now, I will not deny that I am undergoing and experiencing episodes of anxiety due to the pandemic. I think of work to be done while at home, but I also fear for my safety and of my family’s well-being, too. So, it is challenging to focus but I try to acknowledge these challenges so that I can better face them. I take time breath and rest so I can also recharge myself. But I am also excited to see how things would unravel in the are of education as well as think of how I can continue contributing to the bigger education system. 

Jim Tuscano is the host of empowerED, an online show that talks about matters pertaining to teaching and learning in this day and age. To quote from the FB Page, empowerED seeks to elevate the teaching profession, celebrate the Filipino teacher, and guide teachers to become agents of change. More specifically, empowerED aims to: Provide relevant professional learning opportunities that focus on teaching skill development and well-being Share inspiring stories of the most innovative and dedicated teacher to the world Guide teachers in designing sustainable education projects for the school, community, and society. 

To know more about empowerED, go here:

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