Embracing Educators' Sacrifices with Renewed Support

As the school year draws to a close, let's take a moment to recognize the unsung heroes behind our children's education—the teachers. Their commitment extends far beyond the classroom, touching every aspect of their lives with warmth and unwavering dedication.

Embracing Educators' Sacrifices with Renewed Support

Despite facing numerous challenges, teachers remain steadfast sources of support for their students, guiding them through academic and personal struggles. They go above and beyond, some even dipping into their own pockets to bridge the gap between limited resources and diverse student needs.

Yet, amidst their selfless dedication, teachers sacrifice precious moments with family and friends, spending long hours grading papers and preparing lessons. Weekends and holidays become opportunities for professional growth as they strive to enrich their teaching practices and their students' experiences. Balancing work and personal life requires a delicate touch, but teachers handle it with warmth and resilience.

Dr. Mac Millan C. Tobeo, Teacher II and a Senior High School Research Teacher at Alupay INHS in Rosario, Batangas, echoes this sentiment: “Ang pinakamalaking sakripisyo ng pagiging guro ay ang oras. Nasasakripisyo ang bonding at komunikasyon sa pamilya at mga kaibigan, pati hobbies at gawaing-bahay na maaaring hindi mo na magawa."

During the end of every school year, most people tend to focus solely on the breaks that learners get. In the past, teachers dedicated their breaks to facilitating events like Brigada Eskwela, showing remarkable commitment to their schools and communities. They engaged with sponsors, encouraged parents' participation, connected the school with their Local Government Unit (LGU), and organized events at the barangay level. 

In a recent interview with Teacher Richie, a dedicated Ka-Collab and former public school educator, she candidly discussed the challenges of organizing Brigada Eskwela. "Malaking oras ang nawawala sa mga teachers tuwing sasapit ang Brigada Eskwela. There are times na nauubos namin yung isang buwan para sa pagillipat ng mga gamit from one classroom to another, pagrerepair ng mga sirang upuan at lamesa. Usually yung bonus namin ay nagagamit sa pagbili ng paint, cleaning materials, and other stuff para maging conducive for learning yung aming mga classrooms. Some of us ay bumibili na rin ng mga school supplies para sa mga bata na pumapasok pero kulang yung mga gamit. Mahirap, mabigat, pero ramdam namin ang suporta ng mga magulang at iba pang stakeholders, hindi man nila kami matulungan sa pinansyal na pamamaraan ngunit ramdam namin ang suporta mula sa kanila.," he shared.

But starting this year, everything has changed for the better. With a memo released by Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte earlier this year, no voluntary or mandatory tasks or activities shall be assigned to teachers during their 30-day break after School Year 2023-2024 ends. This shows that the agency has listened to the concerns of most DepEd teachers and respects them. This is a game-changer as teachers can now have a real break and relax as they deserve.

"Dati, kahit bakasyon, nasa school kami para tumulong sa Brigada Eskwela. Ngunit ngayong June 2024, talaga namang makakapagpahinga na kami. Wala nang workload na kailangang alalahanin, wala nang seminar na kailangang puntahan. Sa ngayon, admin at school heads na magpapatakbo ng Brigada Eskwela, at sigurado akong makakapaglaan ako ng oras para sa aking pamilya at para rin makapag-outing naman kami," Dr. Tobeo happily shared.

Although educators have achieved a recent win, they are still struggling to maintain a balance between work and personal life. Professional development opportunities often come at a cost, and obtaining multiple capacity-building certifications and a graduate degree requires a significant investment. Moreover, the time spent on weekly and daily lesson planning and grading affects their overall health and well-being. 

Recognizing these challenges, the GBF Educators' Professional Department, led by Executive Director Grace R. Colet and Head of Educator Programs Tinette Tabuena-De Asis, continues to strengthen its impact to reach more STEM teachers nationwide. The GBF STEM Collab significantly expanded its reach, growing from 30,000 Facebook community members at the end of 2023 to over 38,000 members from all regions, including remote areas like BARMM and Tawi-Tawi, by the first quarter of 2024.

The program's impact was also truly felt at the 2024 National Science and Technology Fair (NSTF), where GBF representatives met more than a hundred teachers and NSTF coaches who teach research, science, and math. In an interview with several teachers who are also members of the GBF STEM Collab Community, Crystelle Anne B. Montera from CARAGA shared, "I am teaching research subjects at our school. With my learnings from that webinar, talagang nakita ko na effective po para sa ‘kin, those insights gave me motivation kung paano magturo ng research sa aming school."

Jayben P. Locion, an NSTF coach from Catbalogan City, also shared, "I am a Ka-Collab and a fan of GBF. I have been watching their videos for a long time. Whenever I miss an episode, I go back to their page, download their videos and handouts, and review them. Being part of the GBF STEM Collab community helped me become a better teacher by sharing my knowledge not only with my school but also with my division. I especially enjoy the topics of cybersecurity, research, and SIP, and I am looking forward to more training with the GBF."

Sir Bryant C. Acar, Region 7 DepEd Education Program Supervisor, happily endorses the program, saying, "This is a very good platform to update our teachers with emerging trends and strategies for STEM Teaching. Of course, this is also a way of supporting teachers who need the help most." These interactions brought the mission to life, extending beyond the screen through engaging weekly webinar sessions. The GBF STEM Collab is truly making a mark on the future of STEM in the country by expanding and sustaining access to quality learning and co-advocacy for STEM teachers by STEM teachers.

Teachers face many challenges, but they persevere because they believe in the transformative power of education. Expressing gratitude toward them for what they teach and the countless ways they shape the world beyond textbooks can go a long way. Through their sacrifices, we can see the true essence of teaching—a selfless pursuit of a better tomorrow.

Maraming salamat po and enjoy this year’s end of school year, STEM Collab Besties! 

We got you! - GBF Family


Join our thriving Facebook Community, GBF STEM Collab Community, where STEM educators come together for bite-sized learning sessions and collaborative sharing of ideas and resources. Message STEM Collab Bestie to access the latest announcements, activities, certificates, and more!

Written by Claudio Rugay for Gokongwei Brothers Foundation