Old Blog Posts Before This One
I started this blog years ago just as I was finalizing my student teaching. Some of the posts were homework for school. The first few years (2014- 2017), I tried to figure out the whole teaching thing. I knew I wanted to be present for kiddos and make a difference, but the pedagogy part was challenging. I spent years in corporate America living in a cubicle or a boardroom. I knew how to navigate my way around adults, but teens (ages 13-15) are a whole new mood.
From Sacaton to Mesa Public Schools
In just a few days, the new school year will begin, and I will be back in the classroom. I am super excited about starting the new year in Mesa. I transitioned in the second quarter of the last school year and missed all of the recent hire events, so I had to learn a lot on my own. Now, I am seeing it all unfold as it should with professional development and classroom setup time.
It was tough leaving Sacaton Elementary School District #18 within the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC). My chronic health issues, coupled with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, compelled me only to want to teach from home. However, that was initially not an option for me; therefore, I set out to find a position to teach remotely. It was one of the most challenging decisions I have made in a long time.
How has COVID-19 Affected Student Learning?
This will probably be the biggest question of the year. How has COVID-19 affected student learning? According to a Brookings Institution article, “…there is growing consensus that school closures in spring 2020 likely had negative effects on student learning.” Brookings Institution came to solid conclusions due to researched, evidence-based results noting there was a negative impact. They used a sample of 8000 schools nationwide. It’s important to note that these schools were not representative of the underserved communities we know were impacted at a greater level.
Compared to all public schools in the nation, schools in the sample had slightly larger total enrollment, a lower percentage of low-income students, and a higher percentage of white students.Brookings Institution
Schools closing in the Fall of 2020 led to rapid conversions to teaching curriculum online to help balance the health risks of students and staff. This created some educational loss for our students. Some students desperately needed to remain in a physical school environment for many reasons. Of course, parents were all too aware of the needs of their children as they fought to adjust and deal with their own need to earn a living and maintain the household.
I believe we are all experiencing a collective shock from the last academic year. This school year will reveal what educators must do to help bridge the gaps caused by the pandemic. This post mainly focused on educational outcomes. Still, I will be blogging a lot more about social and emotional as I work to engage students who many have disengaged over the past year resulting from the shock I just mentioned.
Although the Brookings Institution study was not representative of the actual economic and health conditions faced by the plethora of underserved communities nationwide, it still paints the picture that educators have a great deal to show up for this 2021-2022 school year.
The BRAND: Lyons Den Education
We all want happy classrooms where true learning is at the heart of all we do. A great way to move toward that goal is to build your classroom “brand.”…When something is branded, hearing its name immediately generates pictures in your mind, with positive and very specific associations.Branding Can Strengthen Your Classroom Culture, Rita Platt
I am anxious to get started! I am genuinely excited about being back in the classroom full-time with students in person. Re-engaging students with their lessons and the desire to learn is my top priority in the coming year. In addition, branding requires creating a culture that will exemplify the qualities and characteristics students need to embody, especially if they navigate their academic lives in the coming post-pandemic year.
Courage, Confidence, & Resilience
This year and many to come will be about engaging students at a level that enhances their learning; whether we are playing catch-up or not isn’t my concern. I am more concerned with the social, emotional, and academic well-being of the learners. The collective shock we experienced as a society has most certainly hit youth hard worldwide. My reach is only as far as my classroom in terms of having a “real” impact. I have branded my class “The Lyons Den” for years now. Still, I am stepping it up and emphasizing the characteristics of courage, confidence, and resilience because I know that is what it takes to succeed during challenging times truly.
The coming year will be the actual test of how much of a negative impact the pandemic has caused. I plan to meet that challenge head-on with my level of courage and confidence in hopes of cultivating learners who defy the statistical odds to achieve and grow beyond the worst they have experienced. This blog will allow me to share the experience along the way.
Welcome to The Lyons Den Education Blog!