Dual Language Teacher of the Month – Krishna Borja Cruz
What has been your experience of dual language education in northern California?
I have been given the great opportunity to teach a Dual Immersion 4th/5th grade class. We follow the 90/10 model and at these grade levels, students learn in Spanish 60% of the time and in English 40% of the time. After just completing my teaching credential program, my experience at Thomas Edison has been an amazing one. I have had the privilege and opportunity to work with a group of students that represent a linguistically, culturally and a socioeconomically diverse population. Ensuring that this diversity most efficiently enhances the learning experience of all my students has been challenging but also the most rewarding task of all.
To see students connect their learning to their lives in meaningful ways is priceless. This happens when they are fully immersed in the academic context because they have access to the content in their native language. At the same time, it is also mesmerizing watching the other part of the class engaging with the language with support from their counterparts as authentic academic discourse unfolds in the classroom. I would argue this kind of learning environment is mostly a result of the dual language immersion model in place.
I feel fully committed to the DI program because I am able to identify the potential that exists within my students in both linguistic contexts as they become biliterate and multicultural.
I would also say that teaching through this model is very complex and requires a lot of commitment. Strategic planning, effective collaboration and detailed intentionality are essential elements for this model. Not everything has been as successful as one would want it to be. Yet, I feel fully committed to the DI program because I am able to identify the potential that exists within my students in both linguistic contexts as they become biliterate and multicultural.
What was your biggest influence in becoming an educator?
I struggled through my elementary education in Mexico as my mother migrated to California when I had just turned seven. I didn’t know how to read until about 5th or 6th grade. I repeated grades and went through a long period of learned helplessness. Yet, I was able to pivot from that stage in my life after arriving in California and learning from my ELD teachers who showed they cared so much about me as a student. Mr. Yang and Mrs. Valdez were so patient with all of us in the New Comers program. Mr. Yang, my 7th grade teacher, was the first teacher that said to me, “You are smart.” Those words worked on me like magic. I went into the mainstream classroom within my first two years in the public education system and went from 5s on my report card in Mexico to As in Sacramento. It all happened because a caring adult said the three magic words: “You are smart.” Once I was in college, I continued to be inspired by students I served in an after school program in a local school district and by the great professors I worked with at my community college and local public universities. All of these experiences helped guide my decision to become a DI educator.
Continue reading for more details of Krishna's impact before arriving at Thomas Edison Language Institute.