Clara Galindo

Clara Galindo is someone who exudes positivity and a “zen attitude” in her classroom. Her students are the best indication of this, who describe her as “the best teacher they ever had”, a huge contribution to their confidence in writing and math, and their overall success as students. In the dual language field, it is very important to show a caring attitude to your students and a genuine interest in their success. Succeeding in two languages is already difficult, and therefore needs a positive environment to reach the fruition of your success. Ms. Galindo was nominated by her colleague, Karla Palomino, who describes her classroom as “welcoming and loving, both visually and psychologically. She encourages students to do and be their best. She is a teacher leader and demonstrates that same disposition with her teacher peers.” With that said, we are thrilled to announce Clara as our March Dual Language Teacher of the Month!

Clara has been involved in education for 19 years. She started teaching in a first grade Transitional Spanish Bilingual Program when she was 24 years old. This allowed her to first develop her passion for bilingual teaching.

“I was excited to work with little ones who cherished their native tongue but found it disappointing knowing they would eventually be exited out of the program by 5th grade. After birthing my three children, I moved on to an International Baccalaureate Charter School in Northeast Los Angeles, which taught 4 different languages: Spanish, English, Mandarin and Nahuatl (the indigenous language of Mexico)”

There, Clara embraced various cultures and instilled the importance of being Open-Minded in a Global Society. She currently teaches at Phelan Language Academy where she works as a team with families, students, teachers and administrators to make student success a priority.

“My biggest influence in becoming an educator was when I studied at UC Davis, I was part of a student organization called MECHA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/as de Aztlan). Many times, we would go out into the neediest parts of the surrounding communities to offer various services.”

At Davis, Clara was surrounded by migrant towns and decided to offer free tutoring sessions to junior high students. This was the first time she had worked with students, and the experience made her realize that she loved working with students to understand content and material while at the same time, creating a relationship with them. This experience helped to guide her towards her career an educator.

Teacher of the Month - Clara Galindo

Clara dressed up like La Srta. Nelson for Halloween. Important for Dual Language teachers to get involved with their students’ activities!

Continue reading to find out more about how Clara inspires her Dual Language students…

Clara arrived at Phelan Language Academy by a recommendation on the part of the HR department at Whittier City School District. She was substitute teaching in the district when the person in charge of substitutes asked if she would be willing to work as a long-term subsitute teacher at Phelan. Unsure if she wanted to work in the lower grades, she was asked to seriously consider Phelan as the program was in their first year of Dual Immersion implementation. Clara immediately fell in love with all aspects of the school: the DL program, the supportive parents/families, the friendly and collaborative teachers, the amazing office staff and the hard working, reliable and approachable principal. She finally found the school setting that made her happy and eager to arrive to everyday.

My favorite part of being a teacher is making relationships with my students and helping them understand the power they hold when making mindful decisions. I use relaxing music and practice yoga/meditation breathing to help students connect their minds to their bodies. I love that students feel welcomed in our classroom and when my students return from previous years, they express how they miss learning in our class. That warms my heart and gives me the desire to continue to grow as an educator.

Teacher of the Month - Clara Galindo

Clara took her students to explore the edible garden on their field trip to Plaza de la cultura (in Downtown Los Angeles).

Clara’s classroom immediately stands out because of the warmth and inviting feeling it has. She utilizes many comfortable reading spaces, collaborative seating arrangements, and organized materials that are readily accessible to students. Her students understand the importance of being independent and that along with that independence comes responsibility. She instills this in them by treating them with high respect and they mirror the expectations. Furthermore, her students love that she constantly plays music to help them concentrate and help their creative minds continuously work.

Clara utilizes teaching Spanish songs and dances to her students. They even have had the opportunity to perform them for various district conferences. Her students also have access to musical performances like Motown, which she encourages them to participate in after school.

I love to spark inquisitive minds and encourage my students to continuously ask questions throughout their learning. When a particularly interesting question comes about in the classroom, I ask students to research it and return to us with the knowledge they attained. This helps them learn to become lifelong learners, not only in the classroom, but at home as well.

Continue reading to find out more about how Clara inspires her Dual Language students…

We asked Clara to describe her school leadership in three words, she said dependable, responsible and respectful. A good school is only what it is because of its’ students, and this is indicative in Clara’s response regarding three words to describe her students, which she said diligent, achieving and inquisitive.

We also find it vital to ask our Dual Language teachers of the month the significance of Biliteracy to them. Biliteracy can mean so many things to so many different people, but it often has a very personal and important meeting to Dual Language teachers. Clara says that, “Biliteracy means understanding different cultures and embracing Open Mindedness. In this society, we are bombarded by propaganda that promotes hate towards different cultures. Therefore, when we take the mindful step of being biliterate and proudly promote biliteracy, we combat the cultural hate and turn it into respect and love of all cultures.”

Teacher of the Month - Clara Galindo

Clara is pictured here with her student, Julia Reyes. She was very proud of Julia Reyes, because she scored perfect in the Language Arts section of CAASSP! Go Julia!

Clara helps her students understand the value of biliteracy by consistently discussing the importance of biliteracy. Her students feel proud to use their biliteracy in a plethora of different ways. For example, they translate for people when at the supermarket or at the library. They reflect on how these simple interactions make them feel and they all understand that it helps people connect and come together to understand each other.

Through their dedication to biliteracy, Clara sees so much potential in her students for their future. She describes them as being hard working and able to internalize the ability to overcome struggle. She has taught to rather than become frustrated when they may not understand something, to use their resources and strategies to help them to understand and clarify. This allows them to become resilient and, moreover, helps them reach their goals. Clara’s Dual Immersion students are in the forefront of their leadership team at their school. They are active in most activities and take initiative in all aspects of their education. Therefore, Clara sees her students becoming leaders in their communities and attaining careers that will help to shape the world.

I hope that my students question wrongs in our society and stand up for injustices that they notice in our world. I hope that they take our peaceful and open-minded classroom to heart and spread that love to all aspects of our world. I want them to take leadership in righting wrongs through the use of their knowledge and resilience. Lastly, we practice Growth Mindset and I want them to internalize the idea of “Never Giving Up.”

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