December Dual Language Teacher(S!) of the Month: A Partnership!
This December, we are honoring a Dual Language Teacher Partnership! The bond between partner teachers is so important, and can mean a great deal for the education synergy of a students’ learning. Nominated by former Dual Language Teacher Kerri Valencia, we are thrilled to share the amazing careers of these teachers. They have been teaching at Brown Station Elementary School in Gaithersburg, MD, Kim Rooths for 6 years and Amanda Stafford for 8 years.
Mrs. Stafford was inspired to become a teacher by her first grade teacher who made all the difference in her learning. Her goal was to immediately become a first grade teacher after college. She then taught first grade for four years and then became a kindergarten teacher. In Sra. Rooths case, her parents strongly emphasized the importance of education and she always did well in school, which caused her to develop a love for learning. Her mom signed her up to tutor in 3rd grade and ever since then she knew she wanted to be a teacher.
To maintain a strong partnership, Mrs. Stafford and Sra. Rooths check in with each other all the time and share responsibilities equally. They feel that they share the students completely equally, and do a lot of class meetings, class rewards, and social/emotional lessons together. The students view their teachers as always being together. When a problem arrises, they always address them together and share the same expectations.
We develop and create things from the beginning and reinforce that through the school year. When we communicate with parents we do it together. Our emails always end with both of our names. We are on the same page with everything and we make sure that we are both included when speaking with students, parents, and other stakeholders. Not only do we have a professional relationship, we also have a personal one. We are involved in each other’s lives and are always talking. We totally mesh!
A challenge they are currently facing is some parental pushback about the two-way immersion program; which distance learning has made more difficult. There are some parents who think that the program is too much or that students are not old enough to learn another language. They often hear that English should be the only language focus. They approach the pushback with research and data on dual language and how beneficial being bilingual or multilingual can be. They teach a lot of social cultural competence lessons on different cultures, races, languages, holidays, and so on. They are working hard to help their students become global citizens!
The best part of teaching, from Sra Rooth’s perspective, is seeing all the growth at the end of the year. She finds it incredibly gratifying when they begin speaking and reading in Spanish independently; it encourages her to continue to fight for the immersion program in their school. For Mrs. Stafford, the best part of teaching is seeing their little faces every morning and witnessing students take academic risks.
Being a dual language teacher is important to us because we get to see our students contribute in various ways throughout the year and we get to see what our students bring to the table. A dual language program is based on the three pillars. Dual language teachers really have to address the third pillar in depth. We are helping our students to find a place in the world and to appreciate what makes them different and unique.
They firmly believe that in coming years, there will be more dual language teachers and that more public schools will be offering dual language programs. For their students, they stress that the more languages you know the more opportunities you have to make a positive impact in the community and world! In their classroom, they are currently using Eureka Math and Benchmark Universe which provide lessons in both Spanish and English.
Partner teachers must communicate and be on the same page. At the beginning of the year it is very important to have similar routines and procedures to make sure that the students have the same expectations. We try to mirror our classrooms and we both have the same designated spot in our rooms for bridging anchor charts. It is important to share responsibilities and move forward as a unit.
The synergy and dynamic necessary for a passionate dual immersion experience is evident from this dual partnership. We hope that this partnership, and the many other dual language marriages, inspire more people to become dual language teachers, as it has an enormous impact on future generations. Happy holidays from all of us at DLS!