"We prepare students to engage in the world that is and to help bring about a world that ought to be."
Jordan Grant ’06
“You are teaching the future, my students will be in leadership roles when they get older.” Jordan Grant ’06 works as the lead fifth grade math teacher at Harlem Village Academy. His classroom was completely virtual during the 2020-2021 academic year. He reflected on the challenges that he faced this past year, and how to continue to bring about a world that ought to be while limited to a Zoom classroom. He works in an Integrated Co-Teacher (ICT) classroom, which means that the majority of the students in his classroom have special needs.
Jordan shared that Quaker values and the skills he learned in Meeting for Worship remain deeply connected to what he does, specifically his teaching style. “I come in with a lot of patience and reflection and encourage my students to do the same with one another, not just on academic work but on their social/emotional understanding as well. I try to take my time as I go throughout the day, asking myself, ‘What went well? How can I make changes? How can I positively affect my students?’ At their ages (9-11), they are just beginning to understand who they are and put themselves together.” Jordan finds value in another Quaker value: Integrity. “Integrity is important at this age and these students can be interpreted in different ways, sometimes it’s fairness, sometimes it's honesty. So we ask the question, what does it mean to have integrity, what does it mean to carry yourself with integrity?”
Jordan shared that this way of thinking has informed his teaching style, “It’s one thing to teach the academics, but it is important to me to teach a child holistically. It is important for them to develop their character, their personality, their views, and understandings of the world. I try to impart lessons that will be useful as they grow up.” This work brings Jordan a deep sense of purpose, “No matter the age, there is a wonderful sense of discovery and agency. Helping students grow up and develop has been the most rewarding part of teaching.”
During the 2020-2021 school year, Jordan had to adapt to his new work environment and find ways to continue his holistic approach through the Zoom screen. Sometimes things did not go as planned, “During the first time they were working in small groups virtually, I could not monitor them all at the same time because they were in breakout rooms. One group had trouble staying focused and being respectful, so I had to bring the class back together and go through what happened and talk about what it means to be in a virtual classroom.” He said that these moments lead to a realization about a teacher’s presence in the classroom. “Teaching in the pandemic was hard. I am better at interacting in person than virtually. You get a lot from me in person — such as non-verbal queues. I miss that aspect of teaching the kids. You can talk and crack jokes through a screen but it is not the same as being in person and having to work on their social and emotional awareness.”
Thank you to every teacher, who taught in the 2020-2021 school year.
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