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Tyler Morning Telegraph - Galdámez brings church planting, education experience to Grace Español

Here are two articles written by Emily Guevara ( Twitter: @TMTEmily)  on our background and on  Grace Español .   Tyler Morning Telegraph...

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Teaching to Change Lives Part 3: Get To Know Your Students

There are certain "laws" that I think are indispensable to teach effectively and impact students' lives. The first law is quite simple: get to know your students. Most of us teachers do fairly well in getting to know our students' academic status but very few of us get know them as individuals. To impact students lives there needs to be conversations with students on a daily basis. My best conversations and even teaching moments have been when I am conversing with students one on one about their lives. For some teachers this is a forbidden area. They think that their professional line is crossed if they get to know their students. They want to make sure that students see them as teachers and not as friends. For me, it is not either/or but a both/and issue. We need to get to know our student yet always keep our roles as teachers. The purpose of getting to know my students is to learn how they think, what they do, what they like or don't like, what kind of environment they have at home so that I can be more strategic in helping them be successful students. I often also do home visits. I want to know how my students live. It gives me a clear visual picture of how it affects their learning. For many teachers, home visits may not be an option. Depending on the students culture, one must determine if is something that can be done. As a Hispanic working with Hispanics I am able to do this quite easily. I've also been able to do this with Vietnamese students. I will discuss the topic of culture later, but for now suffice to say that home visits are important and will impact students lives. I have had parents thanfully tell me, "You are the first teacher who visits my home." They feel so privileged to have a teacher in their home. If we want to change students' lives we are going to have to get to know our students quite well. This may mean that we have to get out of our comfort zone. It may mean visiting their homes. It may mean going to their social functions even if they are not part of our own culture. Law 1: Get to know your students.

©eig. This post can also be found at http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog&pop=1&ping=1

Monday, July 23, 2007

Teaching to Change Lives Part 2

The last week of school I passed around a journal and asked my students to write their thoughts about their school year. The results, which I will post here makes me realize that they changed a lot. This is why I teach. I teach to change lives.

Quotes from Students About Our 2006-2007 Class
(with minimum editing)

• “I want to ask you guys a question, all you guys that are reading. Will we ever have a teacher like Mr. G? I have improved a lot…I’ve improved in my reading a lot.”

• “This whole year has changed me. I have improved more than ever.”

• “I have improved this year in math, reading, and habits.”

• “I have improved in getting organized in my reading log.”

• “ I have only improved with my reading and history”

• “I have learned a lot in this grade”

• “I had a lot of homework but its worth it. I have improved in my reading a lot thanks to Mr. G. Last year I had about 5.0 points and now I have more than 70.0 points. I am more confident in saying things. What I am really trying to say is thanks Mr. G and my class. Thank you all for giving me the best year of all.”

• “This year I had the most excitement I had ever had in all my School years. If it wasn’t for Mr. G I would never had any experience of being Student Body President….He also introduced me to new books such as Maximum Ride and Lord of the Rings. I really appreciate it Mr. G.”

• “Mr. G you are the best teacher I have ever had. You have taught me a lot…I wish when I go to 6th grade you would be my teacher.”

• “This year has been the year that I don’t want it to end.”

• “At the beginning of the school I didn’t read nothing. But I am stupid, now I changed. I changed when I came to 5th grade.”

• “Over they year I had improved a lot more than last year (in…..class).”

• “At the beginning of the year I didn’t accomplished that much. Then when they year passed I improved….I improved more this year than last year.”

• “In the beginning of the year I was scared. I didn’t understand anything that Mr. G said but after months passed by I could understand more than the first day’s of they year. And I could read books in English because I know more words than when I began to read books of 2nd grade. But now I could read 4th grade.”

• “I am very happy that I did more better and had more A.R. points than last year thanks to Mr. G for pushing me and pushing me.”

• “I hate that I could only spend one year with you.”

• “I learned a lot from you. You helped me a lot. Now I am going to really, really try my best.”

• “Thank you very much for pushing me.”

• “______and I liked the novels we read in the class.”

• “I hope all my teachers will be like you next year. I really hope you can stay here next year at S Elementary School.”

• “Mr. G, this year has been great! I learned so much and I improved a lot, but I could have never done it without your help. I will miss you so much!”

• “I read the card you wrote me about the leadership. I have read and thought about it. I think I am a bad leader but I will change. I am a strong boy. I will stand for what I believe and stick with it. I will be a good leader. I will never follow anyone ever!!”

• “Mr. G I know that I have done lots of mistakes this year. And I will change. On my honor.”


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Teaching to Change Lives - Part 1

Think back your schooling years? Who are the teachers that you remember? When I think back, I remember Mr. Dow, who prayed before we played soccer. I remember Mrs. Williams kindness and patience. I remember Mr. Alvarado's smile everyday and reading the newspapers business section. I remember Mr. Roper a kind, Christian man who often did charity work outside of school. Ask me what I learned as far as the curriculum is concerned and I probably can't mention much. But why do I remember them? They changed my life. Their teaching changed my life in some way or other.
I believe that teaching is about changing lives. Of course, I care about Standards and Academics. But my teaching should be such that after the school year is over students' lives are changed. How so? Their viewpoint about education, about learning, about teachers, about success and about life changes.
This past year there was a phenomenon that happened in my class. The last day of school almost all of my students, with the exception of of few tough ones, cried. A few weeks before the school year was over WE were all dreading the end. Why? Many said it was because this was their best year. Many said it was a fun year. Many said they had learned a lot. All of them said they would miss our class. In later blogs I will post some of what they wrote to me. My only explanation for this phenomenon is that their life was changed. A sister of one of my students text messaged me the night her brother was watching the class movie I made. She said that he was not the same. I had changed his life. He was crying. Wow! It was very moving to hear this from a boy who the previous year had been in trouble almost everyday and had to stay after school. A boy who hardly read the previous year but read a lot in my class. A boy who became a leader in the class. A boy whose perspective about education changed. He has promised me he will do his best next year. His life was changed. This is why I teach. How does teaching change lives? Stay tuned. I have some ideas. This is only Part 1.
©eig. This post can also be found at http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog&pop=1&ping=1

Politics in Education

The dictionary defines politics as "the assumptions or principles relating to or inherent in a sphere, theory, or thing, esp. when concerned with power and status in a society : the politics of gender". It also defines "play politics" as "act for political or personal gain rather than from principle".

Unfortunately in education this is clearly evident. The politics of education is how decisions are made. I don't doubt that many people in leadership position have genuine desire to see progress in Education but this is often obfuscated (render obscure or unclear) by the play on politics. Often when two choices are presented that requires a decision to either benefit the students and the school or particular individuals, politics directs them to make a choice that hurts those that they ought to think first, the students. How is this possible? Politics. It's just easier to hurt the children and blame their failure to the parents, teachers or the lack of resources (i.e. money). But the truth lies buried in the "play of politics." To fix it we need leaders (including teachers) who will advocate the best for the students and stop sacrificing them in the altar of politics.
©eig. This post can also be found at http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog&pop=1&ping=1

Moral Clarity in Education

Moral clarity means that when a person is faced with a choice he or she makes the right choice. Of course, one can also make a wrong choice and still have moral clarity. But people who don't have moral clarity live in moral relativism where their decisions are based on the circumstances or what is expedient. I see the lack of moral clarity in education. It appears that it should be easy to make decisions about education based on what is right and what would benefit students but this isn't often the case. Decisions are often based on the politics pushed by those who seek a greater gain for the "Institution of Education." In other words, those really affected are ignored: the students. It is not that they don't know what's the right choice, but they have are just so involved in the grime of political maneuver that they often can't see with moral clarity. I have to say also, that teachers, for the most part, are people with moral clarity. They are out there everyday teaching the young generation. They know what is needed to do things right. But often their voices are not heard. Their voices never reach beyond the four walls. How do me restore moral clarity in education? It needs to start from the bottom up. It needs to start from our community which includes parents, children and even teachers.. They need to express their voices in one accord. Only then, can we restore moral clarity in education
©eig. This post can also be found at http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog&pop=1&ping=1