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Education Studies University of California, San Diego

Winter/Spring 2010

IN THIS ISSUE:

• • • • • •

EDS Profiles: A conversation with Professor Alison Wishard of Education Studies People on the Move: Faculty and Staff Accomplishments Program Updates What’s New News from our Alumni Contact us

EDS Profiles: A conversation with Alison Wishard Guerra Alison Wishard Guerra joined Education Studies as an Assistant Professor in 2005, after completing her Ph.D. at UCLA in psychological and developmental studies in education. What got you interested in early childhood research initially, as opposed to research about adolescence, or some other area? Alison Wishard

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People on the Move: Faculty and Staff Accomplishments Bobbie Allen’s proposal presentation for the Community and School Alliance (CASA) was accepted. The CASA conference is held every 2 years in Santa Fe, NM and the conference is focused on education of deaf children. The title of her presentation is "Emergent Bilingual Readers: Interactive Booksharing”. The conference is April 16-17th. EDS Management Services Officer Pamela Frugé was a recipient of the 2009 Equal Opportunity Affirmative Action and Diversity Award. more

EDS to have a big presence at upcoming AERA Program

Pamela Frugé

As of this writing, at least eleven Education Studies faculty will be participating at the annual American Educational Research Association meeting to be held April 30th - May 4th in Denver, Colorado. See http://www.aera.net/Default.aspx?id=8358 for further details.

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EDS PROGRAM UPDATES JDP News and Highlights from Janet Chrispeels, UCSD Director for the Joint Doctorate in Educational Leadership Our third cohort in the UCSD/CSUSM Joint Doctoral Program, the largest cohort yet with 20 students, is making rapid progress toward matching the 100% completion rate of our first two cohorts. Over half of the cohort has successfully defended their dissertations with graduation still two and a half months away. Equally important to the program is the outstanding accomplishments of our students and graduates in their work, and the recognition they are receiving. Dr. John Collins, one of our first graduates, was just named as the next Superintendent of Poway Unified School District. His thoughtful concern for social justice, commitment to engaging and inclusive learning environments for all students and problem/solution focused leadership skills, frequently demonstrated to classmates and faculty, are exactly what Poway needs as it copes with dwindling financial resources and works to maintain its status as a high performing district. Dr. Prapanna Smith, Cohort 3 and Director of Integral Elementary School, was recently featured on KPBS for the work of himself and staff in providing a learning environment that addresses the whole child: the spiritual, physical, and socio-emotional as well as academic. His cutting edge dissertation exploring how learning environments in schools across two continents may contribute to students developing a sense of life purpose makes an important contribution to understanding how we can create classrooms that meet the needs of all students. Dr. Emelyn de la Peña, Cohort 2 and Director of the UCSD Women’s Center, also was recently featured on KPBS “These Days” with Maureen Cavanaugh, in the March 2, 2010 program, “Sexual Assault Awareness”. Two other Cohort 3 students have also been recognized: Richard Lawrence has been selected to be a member of the national Bouchet Graduate Honor Society, recognizing his scholarship, leadership,

Updates on the Credential World from Cheryl Forbes, Coordinator of Teacher Education 1) Applications for all credential/M.Ed programs have increased, and we are excited about prospects for next year’s student teaching and intern cohorts. Although the job situation has been tight, shortages in critical areas are projected. By 2014, the US Department of Education estimates that over half of the teaching force will need to be replaced as the large generation of Baby Boomers retires. 2) We are in the process of preparing a proposal for a new Bilingual Authorization program to be offered beginning 2011-12. In addition to continuing our successful ASL and Spanish Bilingual Programs, we are looking at the possibility of offering Authorizations in additional languages. Bilingual teachers are able to communicate with families and provide support in native languages for California's growing English learner population. In addition, Dual Language programs are growing in popularity across the state. Candidates would be able to earn a Bilingual Authorization while they pursue a Single or Multiple Subject credential at UCSD, or add the Authorization to an existing credential. Stay tuned for further developments on this exciting option.

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People on the Move: Faculty and Staff Accomplishments

Dr. Sandra Daley, Pamela FrugĂŠ, and Chancellor Fox at the 15th Annual Equal Opportunity Affirmative Action and Diversity Award Ceremony As the Education Studies Management Services Officer, Pamela FrugĂŠ embodies what a Diversity Champion should be. She demonstrates an exemplary support of the UCSD Principles of Community by not only encouraging us to be educated in the best practices, but also holding us to the highest standards. In addition, she always thrives to foster a comfortable working environment and to maintain a climate of fairness, cooperation, and professionalism among faculty and staff regardless of our ethnic, cultural and educational differences. She has shown constant support for diversity as a core value within our department by seeking to recruit faculty and staff of color and those representing underrepresented groups. She has worked hard to bring our faculty and staff together and celebrate their unique backgrounds and contributions. She continually looks for opportunities to recognize positive behaviors and attributes in others. She attempts to foster a work culture wherein everyone -- faculty, staff, students -- feels valued and supported. She is an alumnus of UCSD and a staff member with over 18 years of experience. She is currently the Co-Chair for the UJIMA Network at UCSD, an alliance of black staff, faculty, students, alumni, and community at UCSD that fosters opportunities for AfricanAmerican staff, faculty, students, alumni, and community members. She has made it possible to richly honor black history month.

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EDS Profiles: A conversation with Alison Wishard Guerra, continued from page one What got you interested in early childhood research initially, as opposed to research about adolescence, or some other area?

There’s a little bit of my own history and interest, and then some circumstance that played into it. I was always very interested in education and in working with children. As a high school teenager I spent a lot of time babysitting young children and especially enjoyed the pre-school age period. In college I had a job as an assistant pre-school teacher. I knew I wanted to go into education, as I was really interested and intrigued with learning, especially with young children and issues of language, but I didn’t really know where that was going to lead me. When I went abroad in college, I went to Chile, and did a volunteer position within a children’s orphanage for 2-5 year olds. There I had an opportunity to work with low-income children, Spanish speakers, which continued to solidify my interest in language development. Knowing that here in the United States that was the population most at risk, this led me to really focus in on low-income English Language learners. In college and post college, the first research experience I had was actually working with kids in the transition from elementary to middle school. That was late childhood/early adolescence, so I learned a lot about adolescence. When I went to UCLA for graduate school, the advisor that I got matched up with was an early childhood education researcher. And so, it took me a little while to decide that early childhood was really the period I wanted to work with. It brought me back to where I had started, I think that is the true area I should be in. There are some terms that come up in your research and I thought it would be helpful for people to understand what these mean more clearly. Phrases like “Social Pretend Play”, and “Narrative Development”. As a non-expert, I can make a few guesses, but I have the feeling you are using those words in very specific ways… From a very general perspective, my research focuses on language and literacy development and social and emotional development in early childhood. We think of early childhood as being from zero to eight years old. And the specific populations that I am most interested in are low-income families, and children who are English learners. Children in low-income environments often tend to be immigrant families. I’ve specifically focused on Mexican immigrant families, but I’m very interested in immigrant families across the board. Families from more at-risk environments. There is some specific terminology that does mean very specific things. When we think about socialemotional development, we’re thinking not only about children’s behavior, but primarily I’m interested in the relationships that they develop with peers and with adults. This is the foundation of their social and emotional development, which allows them to regulate their own behavior. Skills such as how to interact with their peers effectively and cooperatively, how to interact with their teachers in a way that promotes their own learning and development. So, when I was a kid and I would play “store”, is this what you mean by “social pretend play”? Social pretend play is a part of social development, but it also goes into the cognitive development. The theory and the literature suggest that engaging in social pretend play supports children’s cognitive development. It’s acting out roles, and deciding who is going to be which role, what the script is, what the rules are, and negotiating those rules. Initially children begin to engage in pretend play by themselves. For instance, my two-year old daughter does a lot of pretend play, but almost never coordinated with other children. She plays with her baby dolls and her stuffed animals. That’s very typical for two and three year olds. But once they get to three to five years old, where they call it “social pretend play”, this is where the real cognitive benefits come in, when they are having to coordinate this play with other peers. more 4

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EDS Profiles: A conversation with Alison Wishard Guerra, continued from page four So, if they say they want to be the doctor, the other kid has to agree to be the nurse or the patient? Right. What happens if the other child says “Well, I want to be the doctor”? Do they say “o.k., we can both be doctors”, or do they take turns? How do they negotiate that? And so, from a cognitive perspective, there are issues of problem solving, and there are issues of language that come in. They are having to go back and forth between being in this pretend world and stepping out of this pretend world so they can manage and negotiate it. Whereas, the teddy bear is always going to agree to be the patient or the nurse? Exactly. And so, that takes a more complex level of thinking, not only in the child’s own mind, but their having to use a level of language that makes sense to the other person, whether it’s a peer or an adult. They have to be able to take the other participant’s understanding and frame of reference into consideration in giving them the information that they need to either win their argument for what they want, or come up with some sort of compromise. So, there’s a lot of theory that suggests this, but there’s little research with English learners, --just as across the board there’s limited research with English learners. In my current study, the big question that I have that I think theoretically makes sense, is “Does engaging in this social pretend play with peers serve as a scaffold to help children, specifically English learners, use more complex language than they would otherwise?” And so when you’re watching these kids, even though their native language might be Spanish, when you’re watching them, they’re using English? It depends. It depends on who the other children are, and what the context of the classroom environment is, what the context of the play scenario is...sometimes you’ll see children using Spanish or their home language to do the negotiation, but then when they’re in the play, they might switch to English. That’s especially common if they’re acting out super heroes or commercialized characters that they see on T.V. they’re going to use the language of the character. So, it’s interesting; you’ll see them switch back and forth into whatever language they think is appropriate for whatever that role is. You also have kids whose home languages are different, but they are playing together. In the context of that pretend play, the English learner may be supported by the other child, and supported by the context of the pretend play, being able to draw from familiar scripts and routines that they’ve engaged in with these children before, and begin to use more complex language that they otherwise might not have. This is very much in line with Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development. If you put this in perspective of what’s happening in educational policy right now, with English learners and low income children and families, there’s such a pressure to get them ready for school, to focus on language and literacy, that we’re seeing more and more adult-directed instruction and less time for play. Lots of worksheets, tracing letters, repeating after the teacher the sounds of letters, and they think they need to know their ABC’s and 1,2,3’s and that they can always play at home. So, play is devalued and is being pushed out of a lot of pre-schools, especially in the environments that are for “at risk” kids. To create an environment that will support a complex level of pretend play is difficult and takes a lot of awareness on the part of the directors and teachers. If you just let the children do what they want without any real support or scaffolding, it probably isn’t going to help them engage in that more complex level of play…so it takes a skilled teacher to know when to intervene and when to step back. more 5


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EDS Profiles: A conversation with Alison Wishard Guerra, continued from page five So, it’s not simply getting out of their way -- they also need some guidance?

Yes, there are real strategies that teachers can use to integrate more traditional elements of literacy into children’s play, such as providing pens and paper and helping them develop signs if they have a store, or helping them name the store, writing out receipts, helping them learn some of these practices that involve everyday literacy in order to bring it into their routine everyday understanding of how the world works, and provide a certain level of support to help them do the writing and help them bring it to the next level. It’s also important for the teacher to know when to step back; we often see adults taking over the play, and then the children are negotiating with the adults rather than negotiating among themselves, and the adult usually tends to go along with whatever the child wants then to do, rather than engaging in conflict, more like real life… So, another term you use is “narrative development”. Can you explain this further? I had a professor in graduate school who studied narrative development, and this was one of those “aha” moments…it really brought the theory down to a surface level where I could see how it made sense. If we think about Vygotsky, and many other theorists who tell us that language shapes the way we think, narrative is one way to actually see that, and to see how language is shaped by culture. And so with narrative, which is essentially storytelling, children or anyone who is telling a story to someone else, has to decide what is a relevant topic, what will that person be interested in, what is appropriate for this particular setting, this group of people, and what kind of information do I need to tell the person for them to be a be able to understand this story? And so, for a four-year old, that’s a pretty complicated thing! And the research that’s been done on narrative shows that across cultures, and across linguistic groups, there are big differences in the kinds of stories that are preferred in different settings. So, could you give an example? One example that’s relevant to educational settings is that prior research has shown important differences in both the content and structure of story telling among children from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. For example, prior research by well known researchers on narrative development, Sarah Michaels and Allyssa McCabe, has shown that among some African American families or communities, stories tend to be lengthy and dramatic narratives often organized around a set of loosely connected topics, and they do not always follow the concise, linear organizational pattern focused on one specific topic that schools promote. And, in the African American storytelling tradition, the “truth” of the story isn’t the focal point. Rather, a good story is one that is dramatic and keeps the audience engaged. It’s been said that this comes from a history of storytelling as a primary source of entertainment and passing of family history, and it was a really important skill for somebody to be able to tell good stories and keep the community entertained and to celebrate the family history. Whereas in more middle class European-American families and in most schools, the emphasis is on the “truth” of the story; you are not to deviate from what really happened, and it should follow a very linear pattern connected to a specific topic. It doesn’t matter as much if it’s boring, as long as it’s accurate and you have all the important pieces in there – beginning, middle, end, and the details to tie it together. There are some interesting studies that were done in the 1980’s by Sarah Michaels about sharing time in kindergarten. For example, African American children would get up and tell their story, say about their grandmother. And this story might jump around, across many different events, but it was all related to grandmother. And the teacher would cut the child off, right before they were getting to the crux, or the highlight, of the story. The teacher would think that the child was all over the place, 6


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EDS Profiles: A conversation with Alison Wishard Guerra, continued from page six cultural differences in not only content but also the structure of how they tell stories impacts how children are perceived in schools, which ultimately is related to the opportunities they have for academic success. By helping teachers to become aware that these differences are based in strengths and not deficits, we can more effectively support language and literacy development for all children. I realized that looking at children’s narratives was a way to see very explicitly how language and culture intertwine or influence each other. I became very interested in English learners, and especially Mexican immigrant children and their story telling and narrative development and how that was related to other aspects of development. This may be simplistic, but are there any general observations you’ve made about narrative patterns for Mexican heritage children? There’s not a lot of research out there on Mexican heritage families, but the research there is suggests that the parents tend to scaffold their children to focus more on relationships, rather than on actions or events. And so, in my dissertation work, I saw examples of parents actually stopping children when they were trying to describe a sequence of events, and interrupting them, and asking, “and who was there?” “who was that?” and “who was that person to you?” And so, it actually took the child more effort to get back on track, to answer the mother’s questions, and orient the listener to who all these people were and what their relationships were to each other, and then get back on track and tell the story. That makes sense with what we know about Mexican culture….. [the narrative interaction] is more of a social interaction and less of an academic one; a time for companionship, a time to have bonding, a time just to spend together. Whereas, with the more middle income English speaking European American family, the parents would be wanting to know exactly what happened and what the details were, it might be more of an academic exercise and less of a time to bond. Telling these stories about past tense events, which we call “non-present events”, there are very clear connections between this and cognitive tasks where children need to think about something separate from the here and now, and articulate it in a way that’s going to make sense, content-wise and grammatically. Ultimately throughout school, we do want students to be able to write an essay that has a beginning, middle and end, and has enough details. There is an academic standard that we want children to master, to be able to succeed in school. It’s not to say that this academic style is not important--we want children to succeed in school and to have equal opportunities across groups—but for people working with young children in pre-school or early elementary school—it’s very important for teachers to have an understanding that there are cultural differences in the way that children think and tell stories; it’s not that they are “incoherent” and don’t have a strong command of language; it’s that they may be using a different style that the teacher is not familiar with. Like what we know about bi-lingualism—that supporting children’s language in their home language will help them acquire a second language, if their style of storytelling is accepted and supported, then they are going to feel more confident and they are going to be able to transfer those skills into learning a new style of storytelling. So, just like play, narrative has both social and cognitive elements. I have two final questions. Now that you’ve been here at UCSD for about five years, and you’ve been mentoring and working with graduate students, how would you describe your teaching approach, and, is there any general advice you’d give to a graduate student, knowing what you know now? In terms of a teaching philosophy, it depends on the situation. With graduate students where the 7


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EDS Profiles: A conversation with Alison Wishard Guerra, continued from page seven conversations with the students, which is what I prefer. I think this is really the most effective way of helping people come to a higher level of understanding and integrate the information that they are reading. I really strive to make the information relevant to the students and have them try to apply it to their own research and to their own educational settings. One of the great things about this program is that we have students who are teachers in educational settings, and they have the opportunity to apply all of these theoretical perspectives and research studies and ask “Does this make sense in my classroom or not?” It pushes them and it pushes instructors, to unpack the theory. The key is to make it relevant and to give students the opportunity to try out different teaching strategies, to apply what they are learning. The other question, about advice for graduate students…? One thing I think is really important, and that I continue to rely on, and got me through graduate school, is to not forget what your passion is, what led you to graduate school in the first place, or led you to be interested in your research topic. When you’re in the depths of your dissertation or any study, you can get to the point where you are sick and tired of what you are doing and wonder “why did I ever care about this?” --Too many deadlines, too much stress, and too much pressure, but for the most part, we come to graduate school, especially in education, not because we have any exterior motives of getting paid a lot of money, but because we are really passionate and believe in something. When you find yourself in one of those periods of frustration and feeling very stressed out, and unsure if you are making the right decisions, try to go back to that place of what are you really passionate about and what is it that you really want to know and why are you doing this. I have that conversation with every student of mine, when they’re in the process of designing their study, or coming up with their research questions…if they are stumbling and can’t figure it out, it’s probably because they have somehow gotten off-track. They’ve missed their initial passion that led them there. I find that if we take a step back and set the study aside and talk about “what is it that you really want to know? Why are you here, doing all of this?” If you can go back to that, you can find the questions that are driving you. The two things that keep students really grounded and focused are: “what are your research questions, and what is your theoretical framework?” If either one of those things are unclear, they’ve probably gotten disconnected from their initial and very individual passion. The other piece of advice is that no one mentor can be everything, we all have different strengths. So, seek out the people that are going to give you the advice and support that they are good at. >***<

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What’s New

4th Annual 2010 EDS Methodology Conference a Success UCSD students and faculty in Education Studies and others interested in education research methods gathered in February to attend a one day conference on the topic. This annual conference is particularly geared towards students of Education Studies and others actively engaged in education and research, with a focus on methods of inquiry in education research. Participants are interested in the multiple ways empirical methods are used to effectively answer substantive research questions and advance social theories. In case you were unable to attend, here is a comment from our key-note speaker Hugh (Bud) Mehan, Director of CREATE and Professor of Sociology at UCSD :

“EDS has played such an important part in my life at UCSD that it was a pleasure to be asked to address the annual Methodology Conference sponsored by EDS. I used this occasion to address some of the significant changes in research methodology that I have witnessed in my career--many of which are ingrained in the fabric of EDS research and preparation of graduate students. Notable here is the shift away from the myth of the detached observer and toward the engaged scholar. Based on my "Engaging the Sociological Imagination paper," I referred to this as 'design research.' In my conception, design research is characterized by a collaboration between "researchers" and "participants” (indeed even those terms need re-defining). Collaborators agree on research questions, design the research, gather data, analyze materials--and often write results together. I tried to point out that this collaborative approach is not without its challenges--including painful interactions with collaborators who disagree with interpretations. But, I concluded, the benefits of this more collaborative approach to research outweigh potential downsides. I applaud EDS, therefore, for its progressive approach to education and research.”

Calling all TEP (aka EDS) Alumni! Please update us and your fellow classmates about what you’ve been up to since you graduated. Send comments (brief or long) to:

edsnewsletter@gmail.com

We will continue compiling these, to appear in the 2010 Summer Newsletter. Some possible topics: Finding that first assignment 

Find us on the web at: http://eds.ucsd.edu

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What has most surprised you about being a teacher What you wish you had known before you started teaching Advice for new teachers

 Deadline for Summer 2010 Newsletter: June 11, 2010 9


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NEWS FROM OUR ALUMNI In response to a notice in our inaugural newsletter last summer, we received the following updates from EDS/TEP alumni:

Melissa Herzig, class of 2002, writes: I have a couple of news items that have happened since I got my masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in EDS in 2002. I am a teacher at Chula Vista High School for the 7th year now. I returned to EDS in 2005 to study for my doctorate in education. Completed the dissertation and got an Ed.D. in summer of 2009. The focus of the dissertation was about Deaf adolescent Latino students and their reading motivations. While studying in the Ed.D program, I had a baby boy, Ethan in June 2007 and another boy, Marcus in October 2009. I just got a job as a Post-doctorate Scholar with Professor Carol Padden from the Department of Research in Languages at UCSD and Professor Susan Goldin-Meadow from University of Chicago. I'm grateful towards EDS for giving me a great start down this path. The support I have received from this Department has been amazing. My advice to any EDS students - just take it a day at a time, and to grab any opportunity that comes your way to be a better teacher.

Kari Wissler, class of 2003, writes: Since leaving the EDS program in 2003, I have been working at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont. I was hired as a Middle School English teacher and have spent all of my teaching years in this wonderful department. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to be the Lead teacher for Writing within the Language Arts department, working closely with my colleagues to ensure a strong foundation for language in both ASL and English. I was also fortunate to mentor my department for the ASL/English Bilingual Professional Development training through Gallaudet University (home to The Center for ASL and English Bilingual Educational Research). This was an enriching experience personally, academically, and professionally. The knowledge that I received through the EDS program at UCSD has been invaluable. It helped guide me to CSD and the wonderful career I have had here.

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NEWS FROM OUR ALUMNI, continued Robert Dyson, class of 2006, writes: I graduated from EDS in 2006. I am writing an update about myself. Since graduating from EDS, I have taught for three years at SCPA (San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts). In 20092010, I will teach at Serra High School. Since graduating from EDS, I have cleared my credential, earned GATE certification, and earned my administrative credential. I also attended my district's master teacher training so that I can have student teachers and/or cooperating teachers. I look forward to working with future teachers and helping them become great teachers. I can teach both chemistry and biology. What has surprised me most about teaching is how much fun it is. I enjoy everyday because it is different. Each day presents new challenges and I improve by taking on those challenges. I have a lot of fun teaching the students (I make science as relevant as I can to their real lives) and I enjoy helping them learn the material. In addition, I have found that each year becomes easier because I have had more experience. The best advice that I can give to new teachers is to stick with teaching and work hard through those first years (I know that I did). Learn as much as you can by listening to people and trying new things. Forge relationships with your students and get on your administrators' good sides by attending or supervising extra-curricular activities (dances, sports, etc.). Most of all, have fun with what you do and know that the job gets easier and is very rewarding. That is all I have for now!

Rachel Colvin, class of 2009, writes: Hi EDS! Here’s an update on my life since graduating from UCSD’s EDS program in August of

2009. I got a job teaching high school math and health at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont, CA. It’s been hard this first year but I have a wonderfully supportive staff and a great department to work with. I found this job while interning here in the spring of 2009, applied, and got it! Hooray! I have learned a lot while being here especially what to do on the first week of school and how to set up my classroom. This was the first time I had set up a class so I didn’t know what to do (ie: where to put my homework bins, where to put the stapler, etc) and that’s something I wish I would have seen during my internship placements. I wish I saw how an experienced teacher starts the school year and how she/he explains procedures and routines to students, as that’s so important. Advice for new teachers: Be willing to move to get your first job! There are many teaching jobs throughout the state of California. They just might not be in San Diego! Be flexible to move around and look around in other areas or try substitute teaching. I know it doesn’t pay as much but at least it’s less work but you can try out different management techniques and lessons with the students!! Rachael Colvin Math and Health Teacher High School Department California School for the Deaf, Fremont

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NEWS FROM OUR ALUMNI, continued Thomas Ultican, class of 2003, writes: It has been more than 7 years since I exited the TEP program at UCSD as possibly the oldest masters candidate in the history of the program. I was almost 53-years old. I mention this because I believe my experience as an educator has been unique because of my age. When I was trying to get an intern position, I was certain that my age made it more difficult. Finding a teaching position was also a bit of a challenge, but fortunately schools often become desperate for math and science teachers around the start of a term. I have a physics and a math credential which helped me overcome age discrimination. My first full time position was at Bell Junior High School on Briarwood Road near Skyline Drive. Bell is in one of the tougher neighborhoods in San Diego. I was assigned 5 classes of 9th grade physics – four Active Physics classes and one Honors Physics section. Classroom management was a big challenge (my classes all had 36 students in them – 9 groups of 4). However, I tried my best to use everything I had learned in my 2 years at UCSD and had a very successful year. On the end of course exams, my 4 active physics classes ranked 1, 3, 4 and 5 out of 13 sections of active physics at Bell and my honors class was the number 2 ranked class in the entire San Diego Unified School District. You can imagine how stunned I was to find out that my evaluator had determined that I was not “moving my students toward achieving standards” which meant I could not work in San Diego Unified School District even as a substitute. My inability to manage my classroom was cited as the reason I was not “moving my students toward achieving standards.” I had a very difficult time finding a position the following school year. Finally, the week fall semester started, I got a 1-semester temporary contract at Mar Vista Middle School to teach 8th grade science. At the start of second semester, my eighth grade science classes were dissolved and I was asked to take on five sections of 7th grade math that were troubled. The previous math teacher just could not manage a class made up of 36 seventh graders. She actually broke down crying in front of the classes on many occasions. I was asked to get those classes in control. I found irony in my evaluation at the end of the year. My strong classroom management abilities were cited as one of the reasons for giving me such a positive review. The next year I was offered a position teaching physics and mathematics at Mar Vista High School. At MVH, I have found a home. I work with several graduates of the UCSD MEd program. The MVH principal had a very high regard for the TEP program at UCSD and made efforts to hire as many TEP students from UCSD as she could. We are working in a challenging environment and making positive strides towards closing the achievement gap. Here at MVH, we are on the front lines in the fight to improve educational outcomes in at-risk communities. Like almost all schools on the front lines, we are judged as failures by the federal government (we are in the fifth year of program improvement under no-childleft-behind). Our student’s parents get letters informing them that we are a failing school and they can go to other schools in the district. But we see and feel good about the incredible job we are doing. In the last 5 years, our California State Testing score has risen from mid-500 to over 700 this past year. At the same time, the number of English language learners in our school has been increasing by 50 students every year. We continue to fail “No Child Left Behind” standards because our English Language Learners cannot achieve high enough scores in English. 12


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NEWS FROM OUR ALUMNI, continued Thomas Ultican, class of 2003, continued: Being a professional educator requires one to develop self-confidence. We must have the ability to apply the pedagogical principles learned and have the personal strength to overcome injustice and lack of recognition for the sake of the students. The most difficult path is the challenge of working in a community with limited â&#x20AC;&#x153;cultural capital.â&#x20AC;? However, that is exactly where the greatest need is, and I believe, the ultimate purpose of the teacherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s education program at UCSD.

Erika Cardenas, class of 2005, writes: Hello, My name is Erika Cardenas and this is my fourth year of teaching. My advice to new teachers would be: DON'T try to do everything. I'm sure I was told this by someone before I started teaching but when I actually started teaching, I forgot about that advice all together. If you try to do everything, you will completely burn out by year 3, maybe 2. I taught 8th grade for 2 years and I just about gave up teaching all together. I spent hours in my classroom, sometimes not leaving until 10:00pm. Don't do this, do what absolutely has to be done that day, and then go home and do other things that are important, like spending time with your family, friends, or doing something you enjoy, like reading or just relaxing! Not only did I try to do everything, but I wasn't teaching the age that was right for me. I thought, if a person can teach well, he or she can teach ANY age. WELL, I learned the hard way that that isn't true at all. Now, I'm teaching a 3rd/4th combo class (my second year) and I absolutely love it. The age is right for me and I'll never go back to middle school. :) Also, the latest I'll stay at school is 5:30, unless we have a PTO meeting. I prioritize, get what I can done, and then I go home. I'm a much better teacher when I stay balanced and remember to take care of myself. :)

Esthme Stathis, class of 2007, writes: Hello Everyone, I'd love to share my thoughts and life updates. -Finding that first teaching job: I started searching pretty early, about March or April. I went through about 10 interviews before getting a job offer that I wanted, although I had a couple of close ones. I ended up getting a job for district that was NOT posted on edjoin (I just sent in an application and my resume.) At the interview, I decided to bring work samples of things I had done as a student teacher. It worked wonderfully, because for each interview question I had a work sample to support my answer. Also, I think it is imperative to practice responding to common questions before interviews. If I had done that, I might not have had to go through 10 interviews first. -What you've been up to since graduating: I have taught for the last 3 years as a full-time classroom teacher at Mount Vernon Elementary in the Lemon Grove School District. The first two years I taught 4th grade, and this year I got the opportunity to be a part of their first Dual Immersion Program. I am teaching a 50/50 2nd grade class, and loving it (although starting a brand new program is a lot of work!) I did go through the lay-off process the past two years and there's a good chance I'll have to do it again this year. It is an extremely grueling and disheartening process, but I have been lucky to get my job back both years. 13


Education Studies, UCSD

Winter/Spring 2010

NEWS FROM OUR ALUMNI, continued Esthme Stathis, class of 2007, continued: -What has surprised you about being a teacher: I thought I knew so much when I first started, and I thought that a lot of older teachers were out-of-date with current teaching processes. What I found was that a lot of what I've been trained in, many teachers were trained in years ago. And, I still have a lot to learn. Being a teacher means always being open to expanding your expertise in the profession and being willing to learn from your colleagues. I have yet to meet a teacher who doesn't do this because they love it and have the best intentions. -What you wish you had known before you started teaching: If possible, don't accept a temporary contract. There are teachers in my district that have been given a temp contract every year for 7 years, and continue to go through no job security every year. -Advice for new teachers: You'll work hard no matter what, but you have to give yourself time to still enjoy your life outside of teaching. -News of your new job or of available jobs: Our district has had to lay off a lot, but they usually end up hiring new teachers after the school year starts, so that's a good time to push your application and go introduce yourself to admin. ~Esme Collier (formerly Stathisâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;oh yeah, I forgot, I got married last summer!)

Molly Dixon Christensen, class of 2006, writes: Hello, this is my first time doing an update. I'm in my fourth year teaching now, and in my second year teaching 12th grade Government and Economics at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont. I just finished my third season of assistant coaching the Boys and Girls Cross Country teams at my school, and last year led a group of students on an International Studies trip to Peru for cultural immersion and community service. I've also completed my Level II Credentials for multiple subject, single subject (Social Studies), and Deaf Education Specialist credentials.

Emily Smith, class of 2005, writes: I wasn't as excited about my first teaching job because it wasn't as diverse as I had wanted, but it was exactly where I needed to be. I've been teaching all 5 years since graduating. Love it, it's where I'm supposed to be. Piece of advice: your department chair is a reliable resource and typically friendly (if how they got the position was by voting, which it normally is). Keep that in mind when you need help, they are great people to go to (administration can be very busy).

Monica Sorenson, class of 1999, writes: I completed my credential through UCSD TEP in 1999. Teaching is my second career. I have taught for the last 10 years in Chula Vista Elementary School District. This year I became a principal of one of our schools, Chula Vista Hills. It is an amazing and rewarding experience. My class just grew from 20 students to over 500. The community I work with is very dedicated to learning. Becoming an educator was one of the best decisions I ever made. I am looking forward to a wonderful year! 14


Education Studies, UCSD

Winter/Spring 2010

Alison Black, class of 2009, writes: Dear EDS, After graduation, I started subbing for my old employer at Sage Canyon Elem in Del Mar Unified. I was helping the RSP specialist get organized and create pull-out groups, as well as subbing for teachers during IEP meetings. I also signed up to sub in San Marcos Unified, Carlsbad Unified, Cardiff, Encinitas, and Solana Beach. Because I had so much work at the one school, I never had time to serve my CT in San Marcos and my friends in other districts. I did, however, remain in touch with them as I went through a few interviews for anything I may have been qualified, even if I thought there was no way of getting hired. They gave me great advice and confidence going through the interview process. Finally, I interviewed with San Diego Unified and apparently I said the right things! I started as a 6th grade English and Social Studies full time sub in the end of September and stayed to sign a temporary contract. I am now in the middle of Literacy Unit 2, after playing catch-up with the first unit. It has been an emotional roller coaster as I worked with keeping a student (I had a gut feeling he needed an IEP), from being sent to another school, and struggling to get my students to become successful with community building exercises and to understand my expectations. Let's just say, the first benchmark was not representative of any of our abilities. I hit the ground running with literally no support during week 5 of the school year, and now it feels like I have been there since the beginning as a result of the strong bonds we have made. What has surprised me as a teacher is: how much I need to do on my own, how little support there is on all fronts, how much my students grew to like me, and how much I have grown to love them. Even though I needed Thanksgiving break more than anything in the world, I actually missed them terribly. I wish I had known: how to read the literacy units of study, how they relate to district assessments, and how to pick the standards and lessons from the unit that will be the most important in order for my students to be successful. It is a skill in itself to understand how to fill in the disconnect between the way we teach so that our students can learn the content and how they are tested on district assessments. It is like reading different languages. My advice for new teachers is to make friends right away with teachers at your school, and find someone who can tell you your rights as a teacher (you have rights even before you are contracted). Make sure you know the union rep. and someone who you can trust that can help you advocate for the support you need without overstepping your volatile place in the system as a new teacher. I have a few friends at my site who have literally kept me sane, alive, and up to date with important deadlines and procedures. I would be lost without them! Good luck, and whatever you do, work your butt off! 12 hours a day! Whatever it takes! P.S. Thanks for everything! EDS, you have made me feel more confident and prepared than I could have ever imagined! 15


Education Studies, UCSD

Winter/Spring 2010

Partners At Learning students and teachers Academic Year 2009 - 2010 For more information on our PAL program, see http:/eds.ucsd.edu/undergraduate/p al.shtml

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EDS Winter and Spring 2010 Newsletter  

winter and spring 2010 newsletter

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