Author Biography

Blake Beckett has taught at P.K. Yonge since 2013. After teaching elementary for twenty years, she is thrilled with middle school. She strives to create meaningful and relevant literacy experiences.

Susan Johnson is an artist and teacher. She is committed to teaching the visual arts as an alternate and powerful form of learning that supports all aspects of general education.


Blake, a language arts teacher, and Susan, a visual arts teacher, were both committed to connect our students’ lived experiences of the pandemic with their academic learning in our new virtual classroom environments. Through this inquiry cycle, we were reminded of the critical role teachers play in addressing the social and emotional needs of their students, and seamlessly integrating those needs with academic goals. We chose to make our remote instruction platforms work for the individual needs of students rather than use a standardized curriculum enacted on an online platform (McQuirter, 2020). Our students responded, as evidenced in this essay, with meaningful works of art, communicating their pandemic experiences through poetry and photography. Teaching and inquiring into teaching through the pandemic provided us with an even better understanding of using students’ lived experiences to achieve academic goals, rather than the other way around.