Curriculum & Instruction Newsletter

New Teacher Updates Volume 5

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From the Director's Desk - Mrs. Aida Gomez

The start of a new year brings about resolutions and new possibilities. As educators we are blessed with the opportunity to start anew each and every day. While many of us think about personal goals in our daily lives, let us not forget to continue to grow as professionals. I challenge each of you to reflect on the direction and pathways you’ve traveled thus far, and set not only personal goals, but professional goals as well.

As I look ahead at the calendar, I realize that Spring Break will soon be upon us, and then the end of this school year. Time is not something that you can ever get back. Find ways to look ahead, staying focused and keeping positive. Surround yourself with encouraging people and energize your students with a smile and an inspiring note. When you don't think students are watching, they truly are mimicking your behaviors, so strive to be the best role model each day. Leaders make others feel important and as a leader you have the power to change the lives of those around you. Embrace it and enjoy! On a final note, congratulations on the completion of the first semester. Continue to strive towards excellence, be a leader, and make your classroom the best part of a student’s day, every day.

Utilizing Process to Meet the Needs of Learners

As we begin a new year, we may find there is one common item on our resolution list; that to which we associate the dreadful word to… exercise. You might be wondering, why on Earth am I reading a New Teacher Newsletter and being lectured about exercise? For me, exercise or fitness regimes are very similar in nature to school and our classrooms. How many times do we find that the most difficult time for students perhaps is simply getting started? As with any fitness class, people are at different skill levels of strength and conditioning. Showing up to the gym ready for the spin instructor to get me going is quite the challenge when I look around and see the lean, mean dedicated queens compared to after holidays self. The instructor’s job, just like yours, is to give each individual an experience that challenges all participants based on where they are. Good classroom teachers do the same by incorporating different levels of learning so that students can have an understanding of where they are and where they are headed.

Our common planning time is crucial in developing lessons for a variety of learners. When we look to differentiate instruction, we often associate content, process, and products. A typical lesson requires the delivery of content to students, and then includes some sort of product to practice and demonstrate learning. Many of these lessons are missing perhaps the most important element in the learning equation: process. (McCarthy 2016)

A teacher should not feel like process opportunities take time from instruction. They allow for the flow of a lesson to follow a frame and allow for “aha” moments to unfold as the teacher guides the students learning. Below are some process experiences that should be considered as you continue to reach greater heights with your students this second semester:

  • Reflection Opportunities – whether they are silent, journaling or conversations with peers, allowing students to check themselves goes a long way.

  • Quick Surveys – sometimes a short check-in response from students is all you need to keep moving forward or take a few steps back. I invite you to review Plickers, an app that makes learning and formative checks fun for teachers and students. (A special shout out to Mrs. Bean at Calderon Elementary who has shared some great teachable moments with so many using Plickers!)

  • Stations – Observe your students and have them explore their learning based on what they are confident in doing; from task cards, to thinking maps, to choice boards or thinking dots.

Planning goes a long way in ensuring the delivery of instruction is always at the greatest level for individual student needs. Welcome to the start of the second half of your 1st year teaching! As always, we are excited to share in this experience with each of you! If there is anything you need more information on, the C&I team and your mentor are always a phone call away!

- Maytte Y. Soliz - Elementary Curriculum Coordinator

Spotlight on SFMMS - Maria Elena Faz-Enriquez

Mrs. Maria Elena Faz-Enriquez is no stranger to teaching students with diverse backgrounds at the secondary level. As a former ESL teacher, she has spent her career challenging students to develop and acquire the skills necessary to succeed in both academics and language development. She truly is an advocate for individualizing instruction to ensure students build the confidence they need to communicate their needs as learners and excel in all aspects of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Mrs. Faz-Enriquez is currently the ESL Strategist at SFMMS and the team is grateful for her dedication in assisting new teachers to develop their skills in the teaching and learning process.

Spotlight on Buena Vista - Eloisa Morales

Eloisa Morales is a top notch support for Buena Vista Elementary! Serving as the Bilingual Interventionist, Eloisa dedicates her time assisting teachers in the development of their skills to reach the needs of all learners. As a former 4th grade teacher at Buena Vista, Eloisa is able to embed her experiences as she collaborates in planning sessions, mentoring and coaching.

Mrs. Morales is also a leader in the role out of our District's first Bilingual Self-Contained Trainings held each six weeks. This staff development helps promote a shared vision for our Bilingual Academy teachers, who meet the needs of beginner and intermediate students.

The testimonies of teachers help give thanks to the dedication of those in this position.

"Eloisa is ALWAYS willing to help out even when she has a ton of things on her to do list. She never makes me feel like I am bothering her. Being a new teacher, she does a great job of validating my ideas and opinions and that validation has made me feel more secure about myself in this new position. I am very fortunate to have her as my mentor!" - Sandra Venegas

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Join the C&I Department in the month of January and receive credit hours towards your February 15th Staff Development!

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Book of the month: Academic Conversations

Classroom Talk That Fosters Critical Thinking and Content Understanding - by Jeff Zwiers & Marie Crawford

C&I Team

Director: Aida Gomez - SFMMS

Coordinators & Campus Contacts: Patricia Brown - DRMS/Blended, Marta Galindo - LAM/RCE, Sandra Mendoza - DRFS/BVE, Maytte Y. Soliz - CAL/DLG, Jennifer Sutton - DRHS, Griselda Westlake - GAR/NHE