A recent interview with Ms. Evangeline Carrillo and two 2nd grade students:
Tell me more about student led circles?
Evangeline: “What this means is that the students are running the morning greeting, temperature check and going over the rights and responsibilities. These are all things we go over during our morning circle, except they get to do plan for it and execute it!"
Why is this important for students to learn?
Evangeline: “It is very important because it builds confidence and gives the kids opportunities for them to be listened to by their peers. It gives them a voice really!"
What has surprised you?
Evangeline: “The confidence they bring! I thought a few of them wouldn’t want to volunteer or feel like this was something they had to do. I thought it was going to be hard for them to plan out the entire thing, especially when it came to scaffolding the activity, but they did it very well! Every student followed directions."
Why is it important to empower students to lead circles?
Evangeline: “It is very important because students learn better when it is being led by peers. All the goals are concrete if they see their peers doing it. It shows them that they can do it too. The way they demonstrate it is at their own level. If they are the ones teaching about the tools from toolbox, it registers more for them because they see a peer performing it!”
What do you enjoy about leading circles?
Alexia: "I enjoy it because we get to do activities and we get to read books. It is really fun because I get to ask my class tricky questions that I come up with."
Kennedy:" I enjoy being a leader! I get to be the teacher and ask questions."
Why is it important to lead your own learning?
Kennedy: "It is important because you get to think about the things you want to learn.”
Alexia: “ It is important because I get to pick what learning skill I want to focus on before I teach the lesson to the rest of the class. I want to be a teacher when I grow up, so this is fun.”
Read all about Dia de Los Muertos @Beta Lower School!
Aiko Gonzalez, 5th grade Instructional Aide, Art teacher and general Jack of all Trades, created an amazing unit on Dia de los Muertos in which Beta’s 5th grade students learned about the history of the celebration, created ofrendas, sugar skulls and ended with a celebration with Chocolate and Pan Dulce. This multifaceted unit was an opportunity for students to leave and share about their own and their classmates identities and culture. Check out what Ms. Gonzales and some of her students had to say about the unit.
A recent interview with Ms. Gonzalez and three 5th grade students:
(Denisse Navaro, Ca’Mya and Ca’Mariya Bridges)
What was your goal for Dia de Los Muertos?
Aiko Gonzalez: “The original goal was to share the cultural importance of Dia de los Muertos. We had two weeks where I introduced the theme and explored the unit. We played the intro of Coco, talked about what they celebrated in the film and from there I had to gage what they knew or didn't know about this celebration. Being Latinx and sharing this part of my culture was important. We learned about why we have ofrendas and explored this theme. I wanted to make broader connections that not only focused on Latinx culture, so we mapped out different countries that have similar practices. They learned about key things put in the altar like pan de muerto, water, salts, and the marigold flower. A lot of kids made connections with colonization and how some practices merged and spread throughout different countries. It was really cool to hear how they connected this.”
Did anything surprise you?
Aiko Gonzalez: “Initially, I had some students not be too excited about learning this since it didn't pertain to their cultural background. We had not given each other time to honor and learn about each others differences. When this came up on our preview day, we did a circle and talked about cultural differences and engaged with each other. Once I pulled this circle, I made sure that all students understood that you didn’t need to identify as Latinx or speak Spanish to celebrate Dia de Los Muertos. One we had this talk, there was a huge positive shift!”
What was your favorite moment during the event?
Aiko Gonzalez: “I think it was decorating the sugar skulls! I got to see them get very creative and talked about the traditional ways of decorating the skull. It was really interesting to see their own designs and them not eating it- this was a win..they really wanted to eat it. I will also say that it was beautiful to see everyone in the community come together. Parents, teachers, students all came together to make this happen.”
What did you learn about Dia de Los Muertos?
Denisse: “I learned that for dia de los muertos a lot of people draw skulls on their faces and set up altars for their loved ones that passed away. They also make pan de muerto and place this on the altar.
Ca’Mariya: “I learned that they make sweet bread called pan de muerto that is used for the altars."
Ca’Mya: “I learned that it’s about honoring the people who have died. You get to make an altar where you can place things that they liked when they were alive.”
How did it make you feel to learn about this tradition?
Denisse: “ I celebrated it and made me feel excited that we got to share something that we have done in my culture for generations.”
Ca’Mya: “Now I know more about a different culture! They use the orange flowers for their dead and it’s really cool to see many things in the altar.
Ca’Mariya: “ I feel a little more educated on a culture I had not known about before. I’m really glad Ms. Gonzalez taught us about it!”
What did you like about it?
Denisse: “ I liked that we had a lot of activities for dia de los muertos. We made an altar and placed many things on it. I had a lot of fun remembering my grandfather that passed away 3 years ago. It was also really cool that other kids got to learn about a tradition that pertains to my culture. We didn’t get to do this in my other school.”
Ca’Mariya: “ The food! We had a lot of hot chocolate and sweet bread.”
Learn more about Ms. K and Ms. Crump and what they enjoy about being content leads!
About Ms. Keaton and Ms. Crump:
Our content leads are an incredible new part of our upper school! They have a super tough job: they are not only in the classroom but they take on a huge responsibility of going the extra mile in building the capacity of their team through observation + feedback and leading our weekly PLCs. They serve as exemplars of self reflection and humility and I appreciate their desire to learn more each and every day! Y'all rock my socks and our team appreciates the work you do!
A recent interview with Ms.K and Ms. Crump:
Tell me more about your role as a content lead?
Nychaela: “I really enjoy it! I stepped up and feel like when I first started I was nervous. When I interviewed for it, I didn’t realize these were things I was already doing. Instead of answering the question, I was giving examples of this role — that were already in place. We meet, talk about out curriculum, process of building Caliber’s own kidfit curriculum. I led a session during Summer PD— the coaches at Beta and CMA were pumped about developing our own curriculum. It’s fun. We meet, we do inventory, we learn from each other. We elevate each other a lot! We all get to step up and use our experiences to grow and help each other. We always strive to do better for our classes and team.”
Lawren: “As content lead I participate in collaboration with the humanities teachers (English and history). I enjoy this role because our team is doing such great things in the classroom. It is cool to talk through best practices or strategies with one another because we are not alone in the classroom so it’s good to have the space to do that. I relish this role!"
What is your favorite thing about this role?
Nychaela: “That I can use my prior knowledge to help my team. It’s a role that I can speak from daily experience and we are all going through experiences together. My position is real, I don’t just suggest ways that work for me, we bounce ideas off each other.”
Lawren: “The professional development piece. I get to learn through my own experiences while facilitating the development of our humanities team. But the best part is that I learn from my colleagues practice and use some of the great things I get to see in their classroom!"
What’s your favorite thing about your team?
Nychaela: “We are funny! The team is open and honest and real. We are on the same page about a lot of things and we see wrong when wrong is present and celebrate right when we see it.I love that we don’t overshadow each other.”
Lawren: “ I love how open-minded we are to one another's ideas and the effort we put forth to be on the same page. Our team is strong in so many ways. We share a common goal for our students to grow as scholars and as individuals."
What’s a goal that you’re currently working on?!
Nychaela: “I really want to push my team to showcase what they do in their classes because their classes look beautiful.”
Lawren: “Collaborating on how we want to develop writing across grade levels. We want our students to be strong writers once they go off to become 9th graders. And also student growth. We want our students to achieve growth and be able to celebrate their wins.”
ILearn more about how they get to practice and teach conflict resolution!
About the Peer Mediator Group:
I believe in student leadership and have spent a lot of time preparing the students to take on the role of being peer mediators. It is really helpful for students to learn about conflict resolution. Interested students had to fill out a three page application to become a peer mediator. They had to go through a round of interviews and have their teachers write them letters of recommendation! Once I selected the group of students who would be doing this, I had them do some intensive training. They had training every single day during DEAR and lunch time for 4 weeks. Their parents had to sign permission slips for them because if they missed class, the students had to be responsible for their work and grades. Student leadership and ownership is important in middle school-- I am grateful that I have a group that wants to learn and give back in a positive way.
A recent interview with the mediators:
Tell me more about your role as a peer mediator?
Abby Lewis: “ We help kids that have problems with other kids at school. Like if two kids had an argument, they can come to us and we help them figure it out and reach a solution so that the issue is resolved. We also give them a safe space to talk about these issues and I think it’s really helpful to them.”
Valeria Lara: “ As a peer mediator we talk to students that have issues with other peers and we help them fix it. We also teach them skills about how to better resolve issues that come up later- so we are teaching them how to approach an issue in the future without our help.”
Why do you think it's important to have peer mediators?
Dalia Garcia: “I think it's important because kids might not want to talk to adults. They might feel like they don't understand them as well as we might.”
Veronica Leon: “I think it's important because it's helpful to both of the students having the conflict. They are able to talk about the issue with someone who is in the same age range. Students also know they have someone that will be there to listen and support them at school, so they don’t feel alone.”
What's your favorite thing about being a peer mediator?
Malani Garcia: “ My favorite thing about this is that you can go home knowing that you helped someone. Not only that, but you don't have to worry about someone going home feeling sad or angry. As a community, we all need to help each other. We all have a role to help others.”
Christian Fernandez: “I think that the best part is knowing that you helped someone, but it’s also really cool wearing the shirts! It makes us feel empowered to know we are leaders and mediators on campus.”
How do your classmates benefit from this program?
Belen Islas: “ Students benefit from this because they feel safe at school. We help prevent a lot of bullying issues from happening.”
Maria Jimenez: “ I feel that they have someone they can trust and talk to and feel safe with.”
Abby: “ I think that students feel they are in a safe space and know that they won’t get into a ton of trouble when they talk to us as opposed to talking to an adult on campus.”