California Educator

APRIL 2010

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PowerPoint presentations, says the class offers students the tools to re- sist peer pressure. “We talk about the ‘crab buck- et’ syndrome a lot: If one crab tries to get out of the buck- et, the other crabs will grab on so he can’t get out. Some- times they are afraid to be labeled a ‘schoolboy’ because it can have a nega- tive connotation in certain subgroups. In this class we tell them it’s OK to be a schoolboy. It’s OK to be success- ful in school. And you can still re- tain your cultural heritage and be proud of who you are.” The boys are expected to be leaders within their own schools and change the attitude of other students through their own posi- tive example. According to stu- dents, it seems to be working. “We are encour- aged to graduate and to be professional,” says Israel Gutierrez, a seventh-grader. “We get to know each other and sup- port each other.” “It helps us appre- David Prieto Vista Teachers Association ciate who we are,” says eighth-grader Sebastian Sanchez. Encuentros students have shown academic improvement, accord- ing to data from Rancho Minerva Middle School. The average GPA of 28 students went from 2.66 to 2.91 after participating in the pro- gram in 2008-09, and the average Good Teaching Conference: What members had to say This year’s Good Teaching Conference offered an array of cutting-edge class- room techniques for attendees. Workshop topics included using testing and other data to improve instruction; developing strategies to help English lan- guage learners and close achievement gaps; how to stop campus bullying; why engaging students in multimedia can improve performance; and using the art of storytelling to grab and keep the attention of math, history and English students of all ages. Here’s what members who attended the Southern edition of the conference in March had to say. “Awesome ideas to keep students engaged. … You also learned the retention skills as he was teach- ing us [about] retention.” Jennifer Brown, Ramona Teachers Association participant’s GPA exceeded stu- dents not in the program. The ab- sentee rate for participants de- creased. “Encuentros has also helped me to get better grades,” says sev- enth-grader Juan Avila. “In lan- guage arts and social studies I had F’s, but I have brought them up to C’s.” “It’s good to be in here and learning instead of other places where there are drugs and gangs,” says Jose Sanchez. “It’s taught me to be respectful and be a good person.” Administrators are so pleased with the program that they re- cently renewed their commit- ment to continue it, despite de- clining state revenue. Recently the Vista School Board approved the Encuentros curriculum as a non-departmental elective class for Vista’s high schools. It is scheduled to begin as a class in fall 2010 and is currently being evaluated for meeting the Uni- versity of California A-G en- trance requirements. “We appreciate the district’s confidence in the program,” says Aganza. “Secondary school can be a real turning point for Latino boys and is often when we lose them. The demands of the lan- guage become harder, they may feel they will never catch up, and they may wonder why they should invest energy in school. The goal of this program is to of- fer a robust intervention that tar- gets academic achievement and builds a productive school atti- tude among Latino males. Through the Encuentros pro- gram, we are doing that.” SHERRY POSNICK-GOODWIN “There were a lot of new strategies that would be applicable in any classroom. Grace, who presented, was fun!” Amy Kongkeo, Associated Teachers of Pixley “You can collaborate with different teachers and different districts. If you’ve been teaching for sev- eral years, you can get rejuvenated and get excit- ed about teaching again!” Cori Larsen, Panama-Buena Vista Teachers Association “It’s nice when a bunch of different present- ers come to give a variety of tools, strategies and advice.” Anaya Padilla, Panama-Buena Vista Teachers Association “It was very interesting … learning how the brain works to help motivate students.” Tiquio Arellano, Vineland Teachers Association “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the workshops, and the presenters are very realistic with what’s going on in California.” Michelle Hughes, Santa Barbara Teachers Association SHERI MIYAMOTO 28 California Educator | APRIL 2010 CTA photos by Sheri Miyamoto

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