ADRIENNE LODICO, A TEACHER AT SAN JOSE ELEMENTARY, COLLABORATED WITH A TEAM OF TEACHERS TO IDENTIFY INEQUITIES IN THEIR SCHOOL AND CLASSROOMS
Adrienne Lodico is a teacher at San Jose Elementary School. This year, she was part of a 5-member team of teacher leaders selected for the Cindy Edelman Excellence in Teaching Fellowship for the JPEF Teacher Leadership Initiative.
Miss Lodico is a Michigan native and moved to Jacksonville just before she began high school. The 2021-2022 school year marked her 16th year as an educator. She has taught at San Jose Elementary School for 11 years and has been a reading interventionist for the last 6 years. During the 2020–2021 school year, she taught kindergarten and 1st grade for Duval Homeroom.
As a teacher, she is inspired by innovation through peer groups with her colleagues, book studies with her leadership team, and learning new ways to incorporate technology into her teaching spaces. But she is inspired most by her students.
“They arrive at school each day bringing their best selves. As I look into their eyes and welcome them to the school or to the group, I want them to know they are in a safe space to live and learn,” she said.
Now, she's working with her teacher colleagues to identify and address inequities in their school and classrooms that impact student achievement.
We caught up with her recently to learn more about their work.
Tell me about the project you submitted in your application for the Edelman Fellowship.
San Jose Elementary is very diverse with 47% Hispanic students, 23% African American students, 15% Asian students, 11 % White students and 5% multi-racial, Pacific Islander or Native American students. We also have students in VPK-5th and are a dual language (English/Spanish) magnet school. Many students are English Language Learners and speak a language other than English at home.
Our project for the Edelman Fellowship was spurred through our teacher book study of Using Equity Audits in the Classroom to Reach and Teach All Students by Kathryn Bell McKenzie and Linda Skrla. The research and anecdotes in the book pushed our teacher study group to reflect on our own biases, our own teaching, and our own actions to identify areas of inequity within our own classrooms that hinder student achievement. The authors met with us for a Q&A session, and many of our questions kept referring to one of the schools in their study. We commented that we wished we were closer to the school so we could visit and observe the practices to bring that same energy and success to our school.
About this same time, we learned of the Edelman Fellowship. It was perfect timing for our group, and it helped to accelerate our plans of visiting high performing, urban, and diverse schools.
Our team decided to attend the annual National Center for Urban School Transformation (NCUST) conference. During the conference, we would visit NCUST award-winning elementary school during school hours, speak with teacher leaders in the school, and attend a conference that would go deeper into the research and practices each school employed to reach their continued levels of success.
After the visit and conference, our team would develop a plan for implementation at San Jose Elementary.
How has your work grown/progressed since you won the Edelman Fellowship?
Since the time our team won the Cindy Edelman Excellence in Teaching Fellowship, we continued working together. Through the beginning of the pandemic, and despite location changes, our team completed another cohort of our initial book study, virtually attended the NCUST conference, and began long-term implementation projects for equity in the classroom, professional development for teachers to reflect on their practice, and foundations of positive relationships among faculty, staff, and students. Additionally, I have focused on growing a lending library with stories, authors, and illustrators to reflect and expose the students to a wide range of cultures and experiences with a focus on diverse characters.
How did you get interested in equity work in schools?
Participating in our initial equity audits book study with open and respectful conversations about unconscious bias really piqued my interest into equity work in schools. It instantly seemed like a missing piece to the puzzle we are constructing to create the most welcoming and effective school for all our students and families. I could see congruent stories between students and families in the high performing equitable schools and at our school. Our work is all about the students and how to help each achieve the goals and successes they want for themselves.
We believe very much in educators supporting educators. Can you tell me a little bit about the team who has supported you – other teachers, your principal?
Throughout my time in Duval County Public Schools, I’ve been surrounded with phenomenal colleagues and administrators including:
Former Principals Paula Findlay and Sanethette Shubert, Assistant Principal Crystal Conner Joseph, and Assistant Principal Rachel Naylor who sparked the fire and passion to be a teacher leader in my school.
Principal Findlay and Assistant Principal Naylor who adamantly encouraged and supported our school-based equity team to apply for the Edelman Fellowship.
Team members Caran Mullins, Gisell Bacerra, Jennifer Eavenson, and Ali Clark who took the leap, and trusted in the group and in the work to look inward at our teaching practices, acknowledge our unconscious biases, and start to work together to build more equitable classrooms.
Principal Jasmin Esparza Gomez for not only allowing our group to continue equity work within our classrooms and schools, but also carves out time each month for the faculty to begin working to make each classroom and our school equitable for each student and family.
What results have you seen for students as a result of your work?
At every step of our research and professional development, I have been reenergized by the success of our efforts. Some of the results from our project include a more positive and welcoming environment in the school and classrooms. Students “see” themselves represented in more parts of our school and know that they are loved, cared about, and adults at the school want the best for them.
After the initial reflective work our equity team presented to the faculty, teachers are asking students to evaluate lessons and activities, to give feedback on how their teacher can help support their learning goals. Students are becoming more articulate in asking teachers for what they need to learn.
It feels like we are continuing to adjust and improve our teaching practices to match our school vision statement of “All students can learn. No children will be left behind. No exceptions. No excuses.” By working together and reflecting through the lens of equity in the classroom I am, and as an extension of our work through the Fellowship, we are holding ourselves accountable by not making excuses and not making exceptions, but ensuring each student continually moves towards the next success. It is my job to ensure student success. It is my job to meet students academically, socially, and emotionally, and adjust my practices to help them succeed in school and in life.