My last blog post titled Striking a Balance Between Rhythm and Revolution was on September 21, 2020. The words in the post were fueled by a struggle to answer the internal calls I was feeling to not waste this crisis and use this rare opportunity to reimagine learning for students in public education, while also longing for a taste of predictable rhythm and routine.
Most recently, I shared this edutopia article in a district newsletter titled Has the Pandemic Ushered New Norms in Education? A first grade teacher at Westwood Elementary in Friendswood ISD, Landry Angel, shared her resonation with this quote from the article – “During hardships, we often want nothing more than to wrap ourselves in a blanket of what’s familiar. But crisis creates opportunity, and if we don’t move beyond this chapter without having evolved in our practice, it will have been an opportunity wasted. This opportunity is about growth. It’s about reflection on what needs to stay and what needs to go.” It was then that I knew we needed to hear from Mrs. Angel who daily takes the call to courage to use this unprecedented school year to reimagine education.
by Guest Writer Landry Angel, 1st grade teacher at Westwood Elementary in Friendswood ISD
As educators, we have always heard (and seen) how powerful teaching can truly be when you take the time to first build a relationship. We know Friendswood ISD backs this wholeheartedly because it’s in our strategic plan, more than once. For me, in the school year of the pandemic, this has never been more true. I feel like this year has really put a spotlight on that particular truth.
Throughout my years of teaching, I’ve found it is so easy to get wrapped up in pushing each student to meet an “end goal”, whether it’s a certain reading level or mastering “x” amount of math skills. We work hard throughout the school year, striving to meet those goals. In many instances, that “end goal” looks the same for each student. The question I have been wrestling with is why? Each student is different and has different needs, so shouldn’t their goals reflect that thinking?
Our profession has gradually gotten better about thinking of students as individuals, but we must take this to the next level in the midst of the pandemic. Thinking about uniqueness is no longer just a nice idea; it’s an absolute necessity if our students are going to grow to their full potential. To meet kids where they are educationally, we must first build relationships. It’s Maslow before Bloom, as we often hear. For me, as a first grade teacher- investing in this, while it does take time, it is worth it. Every ounce of time and energy is worth it, because when the foundation is there, learning seems to come so much more naturally.
Throughout my career in education, I’m realizing more and more how much student support and relationship building truly go hand in hand, and this has me thinking about what else needs to change. What else can be shifted? How can I be better? The world is already upside down, so if we are going to take risks with our teaching to connect with our students, what better time is there than now? It’s the perfect opportunity- and how blessed am I (are we) to work for a district that not only supports this type of thinking, but encourages it!