By Alex Guerrero
My time at Dos Pueblos High School was as much a learning experience as I remember high school to be. Only this time, the subject matter was a teacher and her two English Support classes, not the district and state curriculum. As a “Pre-Professional” representing UCSB at a local K-12 public school, my job was to remain professional, be aware of the boundaries I was meant to keep with the students, and observe my assigned Mentor Teacher and aid them in whatever manner they needed.
While finding my place within an established dynamic was a little awkward for me, I was instantly drawn to my Mentor Teacher’s handling of her classroom. Right away, I noticed that she clearly took the time and effort to establish a relationship with each of her students and worked to build it with each interaction. Her students were comfortable sharing intimate details about their lives with the knowledge that her classroom was a safe space and she would do what she could to support and understand them.
While she did have disruptive students, they respected her enough to go back to their work after a short back-and-forth banter. And compared to her other classes, which she takes the time to monitor during her free periods, the students appear to actually try in her class and do most of the required work. This is perhaps due to her teaching methods, which include using the students as relatable examples for their classmates and giving them real-world scenarios they could experience as reasons to learn what she’s teaching.
Outside of observing the class dynamics, my Mentor Teacher has also taken to discussing her lesson plans and new grading methods. I was shocked to learn some teachers graded on a quarter systemwhere 100% equaled an A, 75% a B, 50% a C, and 25% an F. The premise behind this method is to make grading more equitable for students who might not be able to get a good grade due to circumstances out of their control. She also let me know that she did not receive training as an English Development teacher and what she knows now, she had to learn by herself. Even now she is still learning how to best teach her students and provide them with a good and thorough education, all while making sure they are interested in learning.
In eight short weeks, I found there is still so much more to learn about educators and education in general, illustrating that we are all lifelong learners.