25 Jan 2022
Teachers undoubtedly play a critical role in shaping the minds and hearts of students—mentoring, motivating, inspiring, and guiding them. Yet, teaching and learning never stop, even for those at the forefront of education.
Created in 1984, the Ateneo Teachers Center (ATC) has provided training for teachers, especially for those in basic education. Created by the Education Department of the Loyola Schools, ATC offered innovative programs using interactive and experiential methodologies, some of which were self-instructional. With a whole-day format, the summer modules attracted teachers even from provinces. During the regular semester, the program ran for 4-5 Saturdays. Both structures were offered for possible graduate credits as well.
Since 2000, ATC has been offering professional development opportunities every summer. In 2017, the center was given accreditation by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) as a provider of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) units, which teachers need to renew their professional licenses.
It was also in 2017 when ATC launched the Turo Guro summer program.
As Rita Atienza, ATC director, shares, “Education specialists from across the Loyola Schools and the Basic Education units of the university provided a wide array of courses, which PRC accredited as CPD units. From 2017-2019, it catered to 1884 participants, of which 107 were public school teachers who were subsidized by the Rosario Bustos Atencio Scholarship Fund for Public School Teachers and the Vicente Tiu Lim Teacher Education Endowment Fund.”
When the pandemic necessitated a pivot in learning methodologies, ATC reached out to assist public school teachers by providing professional development via radio and social media.
“Radyo Turo Guro aired every weeknight for 30 minutes from August 2020 to June 2021, discussing teaching strategies in English, Math, Filipino, Science, and other education matters. To support the growing engagement of a growing nationwide community of educators who were following the Radyo Turo Guro broadcasts, the TRIBE FB community (Teachers Redefining and Innovating for Better Education) community was launched, “Atienza says.
Radyo Turo Guro aired on DZRJ Radyo Bandido and was streamed on Facebook and YouTube, giving access to teachers nationwide.
Recognizing the gaps and inequities in the education system, especially during a pandemic, ATC is motivated to ensure that teachers are prepared and equipped to lead, teach, mentor and inspire students.
In coordination with Rex Education, ATC developed and delivered a series of webinars on Learner Agency, which Atienza defines as “lifelong learning competence that today’s students need to thrive in VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) world. The center also collaborated with the Madaris Volunteer Program (a partnership between the Catholic Education Association of the Philippines and the Ateneo de Davao University) to conduct workshops for Islamic school teachers from madaris in the BARMM region. Likewise, ATC led seminars for the Math, Araling Panlipunan, and Values Education teachers of San Fernando City Division Office of the Department of Education.
In 2021, ATC found a new home with Gokongwei Brothers School of Education and Learning Design (GBSEALD), the fifth school under Loyola Schools. ATC will carry forward GSEALD’s focus on learner-centered education in the 21st century and be at the forefront of helping teachers “keep up with a rapidly- and radically-changing educational context,” says Atienza.
“Teachers today are expected to effectively prepare students to thrive in a world in flux, apply cutting-edge digital learning solutions, and fulfill other complex roles and responsibilities. They are expected, for example, to make the classroom a learning space in which every child can develop themselves to the fullest even when both students and teachers are struggling to deal with harsh and troubling realities and lived experiences. Unfortunately, current in-service and other professional growth opportunities are inadequate in both content and format to prepare teachers to teach effectively amidst these challenges.”
Atienza adds, “Three major shifts in providing teachers’ continuing professional development will allow ATC to do this. The first is a shift from one-size-fits-all professional development to the professional learning of the individual teacher (Task Force on Educator Excellence, 2012). ATC will provide modules pegged to a set of research-based teaching standards so that teachers can, over the years, carve their path and earn micro-credentials and digital badges along with these standards. Conversations about teaching practice with fellow educators will also help build a learning community in which they can continuously reflect on and find solutions to problems of practice together. The second is to focus all professional learning efforts on strengthening Core Teaching Practices. The third is the expansion of the ATC’s teaching hub to respond to the needs of both basic education and higher education teachers.”
Projects in the pipeline include another round of Turo Guro in June and July 2022, a series of virtual workshops on various essential core teaching practices that will allow participants to start earning micro-credentials and digital badges pegged to the Philippine Professional Standards for Teachers. ATC is also working on more digital-based materials: an online 48–60-hour course on Core Teacher Practices for Higher Education administrators and teachers and video tutorials and other downloadable materials on Core Teaching Practices for basic education and higher education.
As Atienza says, “Outreach webinar-workshops will continue to be a priority of ATC.”
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