It all adds up to relationships for new middle school math teacher

Teacher in math thumbs up at computer

First year Ross Middle School math teacher Allexandra Lyons doesn’t want to just talk about math. She wants to know how her students are doing. Before they start their daily Zoom in fourth period, she asks them to check in with her.

“Let me know – good or bad – how you’re doing. You can share anything you’d like to share, school or non-school related,” Lyons told her 6th graders.

A few weeks into her first year of teaching, Lyons is learning how to make the best of a challenging situation and build relationships with students.  Most remain at home for virtual instruction, but she also has in-person students for almost every class period now.  

“There’s no balance, you just juggle,” she said. “They still want to learn from a teacher.”

That includes making herself available on Zoom and by chat during the entire class period, monitoring students’ progress with assignments through the Schoology learning management system, and moving around her classroom to support the in-person learners. She finds some of her 6th graders are more willing to ask for help when they’re physically together and can walk step by step through math problems.  

Even though she spent last year as a student teacher at Ross, starting her career in the midst of a pandemic is still daunting.

“I knew there would be difficulties being a first year teacher, but I never dreamt of this,” she said. “I think I’m doing a good job overcoming challenges though.”

That includes becoming more tech-savvy herself, establishing relationships with students from afar, and ultimately making math relevant and meaningful through her instruction. 

“We’re going to try our best,” she told her students after they walked through an assignment. “Unmute if you need help. I’m going to help our buddies in class.”

Lyons calls herself “Northside from the very beginning.” She attended Steubing and Carson elementary schools, Stevenson Middle School, and graduated from O’Connor High School. She’s a second generation teacher and can credit her mother for her switch in college majors from Sports Medicine to Education.

“I didn’t always want to be a teacher,” Lyons said. “My mom needed a math tutor when she was teaching at Pease Middle School and I was good at math. There were so many kids it was like having my own class. I knew it was where I needed to be.”

And despite the long hours of planning, recording video lessons, and all the other requirements of virtual learning, Lyons remains focused.

 “What would my students do?” she said. “Every move I make, I consider that.”