Middle School science educator Piers Blyth believes that education is the greatest tool for creating change in our world. He views his role as providing the proper knowledge foundation for the students who will ultimately drive innovation and solve societal problems across the globe.
“As teachers, we try to make sure our students understand that the world is full of problems that can be solved by people just like them,” explains Mr. Blyth. “We want them to know that the knowledge and skills they are learning at LJCDS are creating a foundation that can be called upon at any time to make the world a better place.”
To ensure that he is serving his students at the highest level possible, Mr. Blyth has long been passionate about the evolution of pedagogy and curriculum development. His educational career began in Phoenix in 2009 with Teach for America, where his interest in pedagogy was first piqued.
“Teach for America is like a crash course in pedagogy and how the brain learns, and that’s what really gripped me,” says Mr. Blyth. “How can you take a young learner with an adolescent brain, and what tips and techniques can you use to maximize retention and recall? That’s what got me into pedagogy; the art and science behind how people learn.”
Mr. Blyth teaches Grade 7 life science and Grade 8 chemistry at LJCDS. In addition to understanding how people learn, he believes it is important to show his students the real-world relevance of what they are learning.
“We do engineering units where we go through design thinking, and they identify problems that they want to solve,” says Mr. Blyth. “During the pandemic, they were tasked with making face masks from items found in their homes. That required an understanding of coronavirus particles and a knowledge of the materials sciences behind what will actually prevent the transmission of COVID. And they did a great job.”
Blyth—along with his wife, a fellow teacher—created a smartphone application to enable educators to easily access Bloom’s Taxonomy, the cognitive hierarchy used for lesson planning. While the app is no longer available, Mr. Blyth’s quest for pedagogical insights continues. A voracious reader of educational texts, he most recently finished a book about the differences in how math is taught in China versus the United States. Through his readings, Mr. Blyth is often searching for techniques and teaching strategies to enhance the learning experience for students.
For someone who is constantly looking to evolve and improve, it’s important to work at a place that is receptive to change. “The most important thing for me about LJCDS is how warm and welcoming it is to try new things,” he says. “Even during the pandemic, we have been able to innovate quickly. The administration seeks feedback from teachers about how things are going in their classroom. It’s great to feel supported here, which makes us better teachers, which makes the experience for students that much greater.”