July 02, 2024

Educator's Voice XVI: Post-Pandemic Shifts: Learning and Growing through Change

Source: NYSUT Research and Educational Services
Educator's Voice XVI

In this issue...

On Post-Pandemic Shifts: Learning and Growing through Change, authors examine how the COVID-19 pandemic influenced the way educators, students and their families were forced to adapt to unprecedented changes brought on by nationwide lockdowns. They write about impacts the pandemic had on teaching and learning. They explore changes that followed everyone back into the classroom once school resumed in-person, building resilience while advancing innovation.

This issue highlights five different practices that describe: how teaching through a strength-based model fosters engagement and resilience while capitalizing on students’ inherent abilities; how one elementary school used mindfulness to combat the stress that came with post-pandemic change and helped students build better tools for self-awareness; the use of frameworks designed to strengthen cognitive, social and emotional learning while building connection, safety and supportive relationships; how an educator preparation program had to pivot to online instruction so future teachers could have meaningful early field experiences; and how one regional high school formed a research practice partnership to tackle the belongingness gap in the wake of the pandemic.

A Letter from the Executive Vice President

Dear Colleagues,

For students, educators and families across New York, the last few years have been record breaking in so many ways, as the COVID-19 pandemic brought an unexpected upheaval in 2020. And in the midst of this very uncertain time, everyone had to pivot quickly as they adapted to a completely new model of teaching and learning. Technology became instrumental in instruction and for communication across school communities. Suddenly life was being conducted remotely through unfamiliar platforms that had to be mastered quickly.

Through the challenges brought on by the pandemic lockdown, educators saw an opportunity to approach teaching in a whole new way while families got a clear glimpse into the newly evolving education setting. Students adapted while working to find ways to stay connected with their peers. Determined to provide excellence to all of their students, New York’s educators remained resilient and nimble. Professional learning sessions were well-attended as everyone scrambled to learn what was needed to adapt to the unforeseen changes. And despite the limitations imposed during this trying time, innovation and creativity found ways to flourish.

But school is about so much more than teaching and learning. The social fabric of our school communities became a bit strained, and relationships were harder to maintain at a distance. The digital divide became more stark, exposing educational inequities and social hardships. Although there were some positive gains, over time, all of this took its toll on everyone.

As classrooms returned to their respective school buildings, so did the resilience built by educators, students, and their families. The day-to-day structures of in-person school welcomed everyone back with open arms. Traditional school erased some of the newer instructional approaches though some are definitely here to stay. For most, it is now much easier to access digital tools and resources. And being flexible is now more ingrained. We have learned more about one another as individuals and have become more sensitive to each other’s needs.

We hope you enjoy reading about the post-pandemic shifts and how everyone has learned and grown though changes brought on by the experiences described in this volume. While there was a clear beginning to the pandemic in 2020, there is no clearly defined ending point. But the lessons learned are likely to carry us forward for a long time to come.

Over the past 16 years, NYSUT has solicited articles for Educator’s Voice. The pandemic brought many changes to our life, including the ways in which we share ideas and information. In this constantly evolving world, with many new ways to share and disseminate, we have decided to discontinue the publication. The journal has provided our members with an opportunity to share their research and practices, but we look forward to new opportunities and platforms for sharing information about best practices in teaching and learning in the future. To all of those who have contributed their time and efforts to this publication, we extend our heartfelt thanks to each one of you.

In Solidarity,

Jaime L. Ciffone
Executive Vice President, NYSUT

Teaching From a Strength-Based Framework to Enhance Student Success and Engagement

The strength-based model emphasizes student assets and abilities, helping elementary and secondary students feel more connected to their teachers and learning environment while fostering an increased engagement in learning. The relationship between teacher and student is the essential variable in helping students experience themselves as capable and resilient. Implementing this model strengthens that connection significantly.

Steven Baron, Psy.D., West Hempstead Education Association

What Mindfulness Can Look Like in an Elementary Classroom

This article explores how fourth-grade students respond to the introduction of mindfulness practices during the height of the pandemic. While the anticipated outcome was for students to be calmer in school, the practices had farreaching impacts in terms of focus, engagement, and self-awareness.

Alice Chiappinelli O’Neill, South Colonie Teachers Association

Building Practices That Support the Changing Dynamics of Teaching

Connection, belonging, and safety were essential for keeping students engaged during remote learning. Turns out, the science of learning and development point to such practices as a blueprint for moving toward a new normal.

A “whole child” framework, promises classroom routines that include practices for the co-creation of norms and expectations, building awareness of, embracing, and promoting the identities and cultures of all school members and using restorative practices that seek to repair harm, and create school climates built on supportive relationships.

Susan M. Alviene, Schenectady Federation of Teachers

Lessons on Closing the “Belongingness Gap” from a Regional High School’s Research-Practice Partnership

Research-Practice Partnerships are designed to promote the translation of research to practice and encourage educators and researchers to work hand-in-hand to identify and use strategies to improve student experiences and outcomes. This RPP includes educators from Tech Valley High School and researchers at the University at Albany, SUNY who focus on Tech Valley’s experiences with tackling issues of student belongingness.

Kristen Wilcox, Ph.D., United University Professions, University at Albany, SUNY
Lana Hower, Tech Valley High School Association
Amy Hawrylchak, Ed.D., Tech Valley High School
Jessie Tobin, University at Albany, SUNY
Maria I. Khan, Ph.D., University at Albany, SUNY

Online Tutoring as an Early Field Experience throughout the Pandemic and Beyond: Perception of Teacher Candidates

Teacher candidates enrolled in the Childhood Education program at SUNY Plattsburgh typically engage in in-person early field experiences every semester beginning their first year and continuing until student teaching. However, the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly halted this clinically rich experience. In response, the faculty quickly developed Cardinal Classroom, a replacement online early field experience.

Kathryn Alton, United University Professions, SUNY Plattsburgh
Alison Puliatte, United University Professions, SUNY Plattsburgh
Yong Yu, United University Professions, SUNY Plattsburgh
Amy Gervich, United University Professions, SUNY Plattsburgh