2021 T.O.Y. Finalist - Lisa Crawford

Meet Lisa Crawford

First grade, West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science

Often called the real-life Ms. Frizzle because of her lively personality, dazzling clothing, and immense love of science, Lisa Crawford is really an incredible teacher. She loves her first-graders so much that she could shed a tear just thinking about how amazing they are. Lisa's classroom is a place for students to grow in more than just their education. They learn CHAMPS - conversation, help, activity, movement, participation = success - which sets expectations for them across their life. By the time her students leave the classroom, she hopes they've become lifelong learners, passionate about the environment, and leaving the world better than they've found it. 

A headshot of 2021 TOY Finalist, Lisa Crawford.
A headshot of 2021 TOY Finalist, Lisa Crawford.
A headshot of 2021 TOY Finalist, Lisa Crawford.

How do you motivate parents to participate in educational process?

Getting parents involved in the educational process is all about trust and buy-in. I work at a school with no busing so I see most parents face-to-face, daily. This provides a great opportunity to share updates and funny stories and allows me to connect with parents on a personal level. I use ClassDojo to share important updates, pictures, spelling words, etc. At the beginning of the year, I share a packet called, “Parents Guide to First Grade.” It outlines all the things parents need to know about our classroom functioning and general academics. I utilize this to dip parents’ toes into what the expectations are for first graders. Our school works in trimesters and our first conferences are held about a month into the school year. By this time I have been able to assess student needs and I am able to share with parents individualized growth targets. I utilize the student profile view through NWEA and break down the skills students need. I do not grade student homework, but I send “take home” activities weekly and provide parents with spelling word lists and a selection of creative ways to practice, offering extra credit for a picture of the student practicing their spelling words. I always meet parents with the approach that we are a team working together to educate their child and I am blown away by the support parents can give academically, when they know what the learning targets are and how to facilitate learning at home.

How did you uniquely pivot your classroom during the pandemic?

The Pandemic flipped the education world upside down. Being remote forced me to change, and grow as an educator and facilitator of learning experiences. The 2020 school year started for us in-person and we shut down mid-November through mid-January. I heavily prepared my first graders to use the necessary programs in advance keeping in mind my first graders had missed nearly half of kindergarten. I needed virtual learning to be accessible to emerging readers. Utilizing all of my technological skills I created a virtual classroom (click to see) for my students which include clickable picture links. I was able to simplify the use of Schoology by embedding links into images so students could navigate by themselves. When the shutdown happened, my students were so fluent with logging in and getting on to our online classroom and Schoology that they barely needed any help from their parents, bar a time reminder for live calls. While virtual, I helped each family overcome any struggle they were having. I held zoom sessions, created video tutorials, set up schedules, accommodated the needs of parents who were sleeping or working and had elderly helpers who were not internet savvy. I utilized LanSchool Air, which allowed me to push students to a website, zoom call or assignment with the click of a button. Ultimately, the pandemic forced an extreme perspective of grace and understanding and opened a new way for families and teachers to work together in the learning process.

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