Dual Language Schools: Teacher(s) of the MonthChris Bessonette

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An exciting way to challenge one's self is to continue learning and getting feedback on current work as well as reflecting on how classroom strategies can be improved. While it may be a stretch, the same way teachers hope their students grow, teachers should also experience the fantastic manner of growing in their own capacities. Teachers encourage deeper analysis of why and how things are accomplished whether it be math or science. Why should teachers not be expected to demonstrate a deeper pursuit of understanding their growth as educators?

This month's Dual Language of the Month Award recipient hails from Jackson, Wyoming where Dual Immersion Instructional Coach Heather Goodrich attributed Kindergarten teacher Chris Bessonette's ability to grow as a district and community leader through a commitment to excellence:

In his classroom, Chris is tireless in his quest to support his students' biliteracy and bilingual development. He works to provide culturally relevant, sheltered instruction for all students, but especially for his English Language Learners. He works closely with his Spanish team member to bridge learning between the two languages and to support true biliteracy development...he is able to bring his understanding of language development to all of our language learners throughout the district...reaching not only our Dual Immersion students but also those students who are not in Dual Immersion and therefore in even greater need of culturally and linguistically diverse instruction.
Continue reading to see why this Wyoming Dual Language Teacher of the Month 's independent and collaborative practice of dual language education receives this month' s certificate .

Where are you from?

I grew up in Yamhill, Oregon. After attending college in Iowa, working in Austria, Germany and Yosemite, I put down roots in Jackson, Wyoming, where I teach the English side of a 50/50 dual immersion kindergarten class.

Did you always want to be a teacher?

Both my parents were teachers and principals and I knew in high school that I wanted to become a teacher, too. But it took me a while to settle into a classroom. After studying elementary education, I spent the remainder of my 20s working internationally and as an Outdoor Environmental Educator in Oregon and Yosemite, California. I also led backpacking and rock climbing expeditions with the National Outdoor Leadership School before working as a classroom teacher. Education in some form has been my career to this point and for the foreseeable future.

Strong thematic teaching helps students to connect ideas across content areas which are more authentic to kids. That way they aren't learning math, reading and writing separately.

Where did you receive your International Baccalaureate training?

I was first exposed to the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum while working at the American International School in Salzburg, Austria, but I received my training while teaching first grade at Dresden International School in Germany. Here I saw the power of thematic teaching, inquiry-based learning. Strong thematic teaching helps students to connect ideas across content areas which are more authentic to kids. That way they aren't learning math, reading and writing separately. They learn about how families are unique or caring about the Earth. Themes combined with concrete activities engage students and inspire a lot of questioning which leads to learning.

Continue reading to learn about dual language education in Wyoming and Chris's commitment to dual language education.