I believe that a well-rounded, rigorous curriculum is the basis to all student growth and learning in this 21st century.
I believe this because (relate to professional experience) as a child the one thing that made me develop into the person I am today, a global citizen, was the well-rounded instruction my parents and teachers gave me. When my teachers presented me with knowledge about the world my thirst for knowledge expanded and the more they asked the more I wanted to learn.
The are many ways that we can create a well-rounded and rigorous curriculum to students. For example having a world to school connection through career days, curriculum grounded in real world applications and a global view of the world. And curriculum, where different cultures are represented and championed, curriculum that challenges students to think critically, creatively, and requires them to collaborate.
I’d like to talk about one of those aspects, which is creating a curriculum that is well rounded in real world applications. A few years ago I was working at a school that was project based. I remember one meeting a had with a child and their parents and in this meeting I remember how the student was explaining what he learned that semester and how he applied it to a real world problem facing the community. What struck me about that meeting was that toward the end the parents turned to me and said that since he had been coming to the school it had been a challenge to get him to go home. That before coming to this school the child would cry because he had to go to school and now he cried because he had to stop learning.
Parent and Community Involvement
I believe that the bond a teacher makes with a parent is a bond that is essential to the success of a child. That when a parent trust a teacher the potential for achievement grows.
I believe this because (relate to professional experience) when I was growing up my mother was always involved in the school community. I remember knowing that my teacher knew my mother very well and that when an issue arose I was not able to play the blame game since my mother had a close personal relationship with my teachers. Still to this day, my mother is still connected to those teachers that I have long forgotten.
There are many ways the community and parents can get involved in our schools. They can serve as PTA members, help in the workroom making copies, volunteer in classrooms to help out teachers, be part committees, be presenters at career day or just come and visit the campus.
I’d like to talk about being part of committees.
Last year when I was the 8th grade teacher I had to be the chaperon of 52 students to a San Francisco trip. Because of some things that were going on in the school I had to be the person in charge of the trip in the last minute. My saviors on this trip were two parents who had been involved in our school since the students were in kindergarten. Because they had been involved in many committees throughout the years the students knew who they were and better yet the parents who were not going knew who they were also. Due to this the trip was a success, and personally it was one of my best experiences ever.
Discipline and School Culture
I believe that that school is the place most students come to feel safe and that it needs to be a place where they feel wanted and welcomed.
I believe this because (relate to professional experience) when I came to this country the neighborhood I lived in was a high crime area where gangs, drugs, guns and violence where always present. But unlike the neighborhood I lived in the school I went to always felt a very loving and safe place.
There are lots of aspects on how to create a positive school culture such as increasing parent involvement, looking at a child as a whole, provide professional development for teachers on restorative practices and looking at discipline action as a moment for growth for the child.
I’d like to talk about one aspect, which is looking as an act of discipline as a moment for growth for the child. A few years ago I was working at a court school when a student of mine was who was around 16 at the time kept continuously cursing throughout the day. I clearly remember having to remind her to “watch her language”. This happened for several years and many people I believe would had given up after a few months but for some reason I knew she could change this habit. At one point I stopped noticing her language and then a few weeks later I heard her utter these words to another student, “hey watch your language” and then turn to me and say “these kids and their cussing”. If I had take a different approach with her the outcome could have been different but I knew that change takes time and that discipline is not about the now but about what happened and about where we want to go.
I believe that technology is the key to solving the issues that face this planet and that students are the innovators who will make this change.
I believe this because (relate to professional experience) I have seen this change and innovation in my lifetime. I remember as a child always wanting a computer and my grandmother providing me one when I turned 12. This gift opened the world to me like nothing else had ever done and provided me with the spark to make a positive change in the world.
There are lots of aspects on how to use technology to create innovators, research projects, pen pals, kick-starter campaigns, 20 Time projects, and project-based learning.
One aspect I would like to discuss is 20 Time Projects. Last year, after telling my students what to do for two years in terms of projects I decided to provide my students a blank slate for their final project with me as their teacher. For this project the only two stipulations were, follow your passion and teach us something (by us I also meant me). With little to no directions from me, my students were able to create projects that ranged from what happened after we die to how music can effect our learning and our moods. What I discovered with those 20 Time projects was that even after spending two years with my students I didn't know them that well and I also learned that their ability to innovate to change to learn and to teach was greater than anything I could imagined.
As an administrator I believe that all people that come through are door feel safe, respected and that their cultural backgrounds are valued. For this reason I believe all teachers should be aware of their own culture as well as the culture of their students. With this in mind, teachers need to receive professional development that will allow them to become culturally sensitive and aware. Along with this, teachers will also receive professional development on appropriate ways to communicate with each other, the students and the community. My second non-negotiable would also be to provide students with a curriculum that challenges them to be creative, critical thinkers, and collaborative. For this reason, I believe teachers need to develop curriculum that promotes and expects students to develop these skills and thus teachers need to have enough expertise on this. I would provide teachers with professional development that would create expert teachers in the field. My final non-negotiable is to have this curriculum be rigorous for our students and based on research-based strategies that will promote the excellence of our students.
After analyzing my last two years as a leader at my school I have come to the conclusion that my leadership style has developed to become a democratic leader. When working with teachers I believe the teachers are the experts on their students and for that reason I believe that they are the most equipped to make decisions on what is best for their students. For this reason, I know the best way to achieve the common goal for our students is to have as much input as possible from the people who know them the most. Along with this, I also believe as a democratic leader I also have become a distributive leader because I seek my staff to work as a team and that their collective power will provide the results we need for our students. I alone cannot make impactful changes without the staff taking on some of the responsibility and creating the change. Finally, I also believe that I have created a system at my school where teachers are required to produce certain things in order to receive certain rewards such as, completing a set of task in order for them to be able to attend a conference.
I have been teaching for 8 years. I am credentialled in BCLAD Multiple Subject as well as Special Education Mild Moderate. I have taught grades 7th and 8th. I have had a number of different teaching assignments including English, World History and U.S. History. I have accepted teacher leadership responsibilities in the school including IT Specialist, Social Studies Coach, Technology Coach as well as leading part of the WASC team. I currently hold a Bachelors of Arts from the University of California Santa Cruz in Global Economics with an emphasis in the European Union. I have been education for 11 years, before becoming an educator I was a stockbroker for Merrill Lynch where I was integral to the development of an automated Spanish system for our clients. As a teacher I have worked with technology for 8 years. My first position was a technology specialist at Juvenile Community Court Schools in National City California, where I was responsible for a computer lab as well as providing support in subjects such as Government and Economics to graduating seniors.
Since then, I’ve have taught at a dual language school, both 7th grade and 8th grade English and History, where I lead the pilot program of technology implementation in the classroom by integrating chromebooks. I currently hold a BCLAD credential as well as a preliminary special education credential in mild/moderate education from San Diego State University.
Recently, I have been part of the WASC committee for our middle school where I lead a group of teachers in the development of our WASC accreditation along with other colleagues. For the last two years I have served both as a BTSA mentor and IT Specialist for both the elementary school and middle school. As the IT Specialist my responsibilities include developing the technology plan for our school as well as reviewing the schools technology policy for both staff and students. I am also responsible for maintaining, updating and creating policy for over 675 chromebooks, 189 iPads, 60 Macs, several PCs and servers. As IT Specialist I also provide professional development for over 30 teachers on software such as typing club, achieve 3000, Google classroom and classroom technology policy. Finally, as the IT Specialist at our school I am part of the administrative team and have been responsible for the development of school wide policies on testing, data collection, professional development opportunities for our teachers outside of technology.
I came to this country in 4th grade not knowing the language or anyone outside my immediate family. The neighborhood where we first came to was not the best. After about six months I was able to pick up the language due to an amazing teacher who not only promoted the learning of English but also the development a student’s ability to be critical thinker. Along with that, this teacher included a global view to education. I clearly remember our teacher bringing coffee table books to the classroom and allowing us to pick any object in them to recreate. This allowed me to see the world in a different way, to imagine beyond my situation. Through this teacher I recreated African mask, Aztec sacrificial knives and many other things. That first teacher made me feel a welcome member of my school community when I needed it and because of him and many other teachers that came along I was able to dream about going to college, to travel further than anyone else in my family, to live in foreign countries, in short I became a global citizen.
Years later, when I was beyond college I returned to my old neighborhood to discover what had happened to friends who weren’t as lucky as me. I saw that with out great teachers to educate them, to open their eyes to the world, they had become what most kids in that neighborhood end up in, incarcerated. Knowing that a great education allowed me to become the global citizen I am today, has cemented the importance of education in the development of innovating global citizens.
I believe all children need and deserve an education that requires critical thinking, encourages creativity, is centered on collaboration and develops communication. Students also deserve an education where their ideas and cultural backgrounds are valued and promoted. In this new global setting students need to develop skills that go far beyond memorizing facts. They need to find creative solutions to the issues that affect us today and in the future. Through collaborations and education students will develop the skills that will make them competitive and contributing members in a global society. Education is also the place that will create in them the drive to become 21st century scholars.