Hello, my name is Jeni Cass and I teach Kindergarten at San Diego Global Vision Academy. I am in my 5th year teaching K and have also taught 2 years of third grade. If there was one thing I would change about education it would be that educators were looked at as professionals in the global world. Many times when I say that I am a teacher, people smile say "oh that's nice." When people meet doctors or lawyers they are immediaely bombarded with questions about their line of work.
Good point Jeni. I remember meeting my high school French teacher at Target when I was first beginning my teaching career and I excitedly told her I was now a teacher. Her first reaction was of disappointment and it deflated me for a moment. I also find it interesting that there is quite a range of feeling for educators coming from the media and a whole slew of responsibilities placed on our shoulders. Having grown up in Mexico, as far as I remember and I still see today, despite low pay there too, there seems to be a great deal of respect for educators. So much so in fact that often when there is social upheaval, teachers are targeted because of their ability to gather and disseminate information to communities as well as their ability organize people. Of course that is a different situation than we have here but in the end teachers are coming with similar skill sets. Finally it is comments like the one below that I am sure you and all of us have gotten that show us that the work we do is valuable and our hours of training, education and expertise make us not only professionals but integral parts of the community. This is one of the comments I saved coming from a 2nd grade boy. "Teacher this is the worst day of my life." I replied, "But you got an award today at the assembly. It is a GREAT day for you!" To which he said, "My teacher is sick. The teacher is VERY important. That is why this is the worst day for me." The teacher IS very important.
Zenaida Moore ~ A master 2nd grade teacher, for I’ve been doing it now going on my 6th year at King Chavez Primary Academy. I originally considered all of the introduction questions intriguing, but now feel extremely empowered to share the one thing I would most desire to change about “public education.” I would change the demands of formalized testing! My students have been bombarded with tests from the first month of school and what we hoped they would be best prepared for, are now practicing diligently for the CSTs. To an extent, I agree with formal assessments because they can offer very valuable information. But for a test that is SO important that it causes a snowball effect of stress and anxiety, as well as, valuable time wasted on just how to take the test, is absolutely undesirable. I have to detoxify daily from the negative thoughts and tension I develop in my classroom as I try to get students who are reading below grade level to compare and contrast two culturally different stories. The demands of my students to master every standard, even if they just learned English two years ago or less, is overwhelming. I have to remind myself of my “true purpose” as a teacher and rejuvenate the passion that had brought me into this community school, saying to myself Si Se Puede!
My name is Holly French and I teach 6th grade English/History at Cajon Valley Middle School. Three years ago I had the opportunity to teach a writing elective at my site and since there was no curriculum I had a blank canvas that allowed me to construct a curriculum to spark the interests of young writers. I groups of sixth grade students for nine weeks and these students were amazing. They eagerly accepted the challenge each day to write about their lives, to create unique stories not only about themselves, but also fictional pieces drawn from their youthful imaginations. I facilitated the writing process, but they were ultimately in charge. I witnessed how the power of choice helped these students gain confidence in their own writing, which now inspires me to include writing choice into the core classes.
My name is Lisa Langston. I have been teaching in the Cajon Valley Union School District for 20 years. I have taught both kindergarten and first grade. If I given the opportunity to change one thing in education it would be to focus on the mastery of skills rather than staying aligned with the district's pacing guide. Teachers are being pushed to move through the curriculum regardless of the student's understanding and comprehension of skills. I believe in teaching of the whole child rather than "the whole pacing guide".
My name is Nicole Bradshaw. This is my 14th year of teaching and my tenth teaching in Cajon Valley School District. I have taught all grades from Pre-Kindergarten through fifth. I am currently teaching a K-1 Combo at Flying Hills Elementary. Flying Hills is a Fine Arts Magnet. If happiness was the world currency, and I could do anything I wanted, I would still teach Kindergarten... part-time. Then, I would moonlight as a Disney animator or Imagineer. Luckily, my campus allows me to bestow my love for the arts onto my students, in a time when, unfortunately, the arts are not necessarily given their due attention in the classroom.
My name is Andrew Myette and I am in my 13th year of teaching English at Patrick Henry High School. The one thing I’d like to change most about education is the perception of many policy-makers, politicians, parents, and even educators that the goal of education is to provide students with the knowledge to be successful, to prepare them for the (I hate this term now!) 21st Century. And that in order to accomplish that pressing goal, schools and teachers must embrace the same set of standards, the same set of skills development, the same curriculum, and the same teaching methods to ensure that our schools are successful, that no Child Be Left Behind.In truth, I’d like to see policy-makers, politicians, parents, and educators embrace the notion that the goal of education should be to help students construct meaning and knowledge from and of their immediate world, to master as best they can that knowledge, and to then synthesize and apply that knowledge in new and ever-demanding contexts. As promising and innovative as some of the new digital literacies are, one would think that education is moving in the right direction, but in reality is truly moving further and further away from it. Interactive white boards (Promethean Boards), for example, have become merely a fancy dissemination method for the essential knowledge that has been determined by someone other than learners and teachers themselves to be taught and acquired. Students are engaged, but are not actively involved in the construction, negotiation, reflection, and revision of meaning so essential for success (particularly in the 21st Century). Of course, the issue I have is not with the technology, for I am learning to use it and apply it in a way I believe will ultimately help my students to construct, negotiate, reflect, and revise meaning. My issue is with the misunderstood goal of education which is only magnified through the use of the use of digital literacies.
My name is Matt Jewell and I teach 6th grade language arts and social studies at Ada Harris Elementary School in Cardiff. This is my first year in Cardiff. Before being invited to teach here, I taught 7th and 8th grade at Rancho Minerva Middle School in Vista for 5 years. If I could change one thing about education it would be to shift the focus from achievement (where students are at) to growth (how far they have come). Standards and standardized tests are important tools in so far as they provide a roadmap for instructional planning and feedback on where our students are at. However, by simply looking at whether students are “proficient” or not, we fail to challenge our advanced students and we fail to acknowledge the growth that so many of our struggling students make.
What’s something that you do differently than most teachers? Hi! HSCalvo speaking…Throughout the day and week, I encourage vocabulary building, making meaning of “words” in a variety of ways. I teach kindergarten and some of these ways may seem very simple, but for five year olds it is not only meaningful, but also fun. As the year progresses, students become comfortable and expect these daily “snippets” of learning to take place. It becomes routine and when skipped, (for whatever reason) they do the certain “task” automatically. Here are just a few samples of these simple but effective ways of building vocabulary and meaning. Let’s say we are studying “p””. Most children know the letter p. So I focus on vocabulary and oral language. When the children go out to snack, each child gives me a “p” word and puts it into a sentence on the way out the door. Another example would be to Act out, mime certain words that begin with the letter “P”. Other students then guess what is being mimed. As a sponge activity I often put pictures and words of the letter of the week out and depending on the level of the child, he/she will take these pictures and words and make their own sentence, writing it onto a piece of paper. These simple “quick” and fun ways of practicing new words support all students’ vocabulary and thus their oral language, comprehension, and writing becomes stronger and more alive. The above practices are not unique, but when “wrapped” up into our daily routine of kindergarten, gives meaning and excitement to all!
My name is Amy Mody, and I teach First Grade at Albert Einstein Academy. I love teaching reading and especially love Guided Reading time. I recently got my Reading Specialist Credential, and I would love to work as a Reading Specialist. If ever there were a chance for my "dream job", I think that would be it!
My name is Rachel Curtze. I have taught preschool and worked as a teacher trainer in the Peace Corps. Currently, I teach part-time music and substitute in two districts. If happiness was the national currency, the kind of work would make me rich would be simple…cooking and hanging out with my family. That’s it. I am never happier than when I am with the people I love and eating.
My name is Jacob Ruth. I currently teach 7th grade world history at Cajon Valley Middle School in El Cajon. I also taught 6th and 8th grade history. I have been teaching for 4 years. I completely agree with the words of Andrew. I especially like what he said concerning the goals of education, "education should be to help students construct meaning and knowledge from and of their immediate world, to master as best they can that knowledge, and to then synthesize and apply that knowledge in new and ever-demanding contexts." I think that many teachers are expressing this sentiment as technology finds its way into the classroom. I also want education to move away from simply focusing on standards. I want an educational system that rewards creativity, innovation, argument, opinion, etc... not multiple choice test scores. Something that I do differently - My classes have been using iPod touches in the classroom this year. It has been a powerful and enlightening experience.
Hi, my name is Callie and I have been teaching 9-12th grade English for the past 5 years at MAAC Charter, a school for at-risk youth. If I could change anything about education it would be the socioeconomic and political aspects of society that limit, or refuse, equal access to education. So many children are denied a quality education in our society; they are even criticized when their test scores do not align with those of children who actually received the education all children deserve. Education is a human right, but our children are unjustly placed in a hierarchy of the deserving and undeserving. As an educator, my purpose is to lessen the educational debt of our society.
Hi, my name is Jan, and I have been teaching community college ESOL and English for about six years (at San Diego City College). Prior to that, I taught ESL in the adult education division of the SDCCD. I also did a couple of gigs as an administrator there. Before that, I was a substitute bilingual teacher in National City, and before that, I taught 2nd and 5th grade in Bogota, Colombia. I hear you all about what needs to be changed in public education, and I'm right there with you. Callie, you've got the big picture.. quality education is a matter of equity and social justice, and right now, we are creating more distance between the haves and have-nots. It is profoundly disturbing.
My name is Kim Fruscella and I currently teach Kindergarten at Solana Highlands Elementary School. I taught fourth grade the past two years in Maui, Hawaii. One thing that I would change about education is the extreme emphasis on state testing. I am tutoring a fourth grader from another school, and she just gave me a letter from her teacher this past week that stated they would be "breezing" through all these different math concepts that they have not yet covered in order to be ready for STAR testing. The teacher was not expecting "mastery" of the concepts and would not be doing any other assessments between now and then. I am disappointed in this because the students are not learning the material and underlying concepts instead, there is just a hope that the students will remember enough to pick the correct answer on the test. There are still two months of school left, not two weeks. I wish the extreme emphasis and feeling of needing to cover everything before the test didn't change how we teach our students.
My name is Kim Douillard. I co-teach a multiage class of first, second, and third graders at Cardiff School. My students stay with me for three years (a gift!), leaving after third grade. I also direct the San Diego Area Writing Project—in my spare time! ☺ This arrangement gives me the best of different aspects of education. I benefit from constant contact with students and the realities of teaching and also have opportunities to interact with educators from all over the US—working with teachers who teach a variety of students in a variety of contexts. I get to learn from amazing educators—and help to make a difference in our profession beyond my classroom walls.You’ve all said it so well—obsession with testing and assumptions that students of approximately the same age have the same needs, interests, and approaches to learning hurts our students. That’s what I love so much about the writing project and its approach—there is not a singular approach that fits neatly in a binder to teach writing to students. Writing is messy and complicated—like life and our students. We must pay attention to our students and their needs, providing support and targeted instruction to help them realize their own potential and dreams. That takes caring, informed, and dedicated teachers—not prepackaged curriculum or the latest educational fad.
I'm the tardy one! Hi, I'm Susan Minnicks and I'm trying to not freak out because of a water leak somewhere in the wall...I've been teaching now 18 years, for ten years ESL/ELD and the rest kids identified as highly gifted, many of whom are English Language Learners. My goal is to teach them to think critically, read and write critically, and use those skills to make a difference in their own lives but far more importantly in the lives of others.I'm having issues with the band-wagon nature of technology for the hell of it, without much discussion at all about the nature of the classroom and the roles of teachers and students, I have issues with students being so passive and expected to be spoon-fed, as my colleagues and I have noticed especially over the past few years, an epiphenomenon of teaching to the (high stakes) tests, we're sure,and what's seeming like a lost -or losing-conversation about the value of education in our lives and on our cultural landscape.I'm not as pessimistic as this sounds, I am cynical though. I'm more like Gramsci referred to as an optimist of the spirit, a pessimist of the mind. But that's just today, with funky plumbing molding in the walls, parents wanting "the worksheets" so they can go on vacations with their kids, a 90 minute "inservice" on making what look like worksheets on the Promethean boards, and yearning for extended times to write.....Peace Out.
Hello! My name is Darren Samakosky. I teach 10th grade English and AVID at Point Loma HS. I love the area and the community and feel truly lucky. I will be entering my 7th year of teaching next year and feel that I have learned a great deal about the art of being a good and effective Language Arts teacher...but I have so much to improve and I enjoy the learning and maturation process of it all.I somehow missed this initial introduction entry - so I am backtracking a bit to say hello. As much as I love being at Point Loma HS - the confines of public education, testing, scores, standards, etc...often times hinders my definition of authenticity in our education system. Many (most) times I see my (our) students pay the price. I may not be able to change the system - but I can affect what goes on in my classroom with genuine lesson planning that is centralized on reading and writing to help students learn, grow, and question the world that surrounds them. A student recently wrote/stated - "Celebrate Inquiry". I loved this. It is a positive spin on the notion of "Question Authority". As poet/teacher Taylor Mali states - "it is not enough to question authority...you got to speak with it too." This comes down to ownership and identity.Something that I do differently in my classroom is my poetry unit. I will never leave this to be my "end of the year" unit. It is to late at that time for students (it is never too late) to find their voice and the courage to embrace and share it. I have seen students take risks and leaps and really face themselves and their fears of writing and presenting with ferociousness. It is quite a sight. So...I will be working hard this summer to implement this poetry unit as a backbone to all other assignments/units in my class. Students must trust themselves to seek out their own authentic voice. The fervor and excitement that occurs in my classroom the last month of school - must exist in the room all year round. This is my constant goal. I know I am doing something right - but I must always aspire to do it better.