Dual Language Schools: Teacher(s) of the MonthThe November Dual Language Teacher of the Month: Kimberly Salazar!

11/2019
Author Photo: Dual Language Schools

This November, in a time of giving and understanding one another, we are honoring Kimberly Salazar, who is the epitome of aiding children in their growth and helping their passion for learning to flourish. She is completing her seventh year as an elementary teacher (currently teaching 4th grade) and became a fulltime teacher after she did a year as a substitute teacher and saw the immense opportunity to help children learn and grow in their knowledge and gain a passion to learn.

Kimberly is a caring and loving teacher. She is very organized and is a great team member in the 4th grade team. She takes the time to know her students and families. Kimberly has spent hours of additional work to make sure she has all the necessary materials and resources to teach her lessons in Spanish. —Jose Diaz, Dual Language Teacher of the Month, July 2018

When Ms. Salazar first decided to become a substitute teacher, she was inspired to do so having been an ELL struggling student herself. She came to Washington state at the age of five and having to learn all the academics and a new language was quite overwhelming for her. However, along her educational path she felt blessed to have some amazing teachers that believed in her, motivated and pushed her to try harder. They taught her that she could do anything with ambition and dedication. She wanted to help other students in the same way she was helped.

My children have all gone through the Dual Language School and they have learned so much, and I was in favor of all great things they were learning and felt that I could contribute to this program, and have now been a 4th grade Spanish teacher for the last three years. —Kimberly Salazar

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Her favorite part of being a teacher is seeing the smiles or “light bulb” moments on the kids’ faces when they understand a concept they’ve been struggling with. She also loves seeing all the amazing growth they have throughout the year. She recently participated in a three-part series of CLAVIS training. She feels this is making her dual school more cohesive and is teaching or expanding on some great things that they do as a school. As a team, they are using specific data driven results from the previous years and comparing it to current time to see if the systems and steps that they are doing are growing effectively. They then learn from it and make changes as necessary.

Based off the data they collected, they found that teaching students place value at the beginning of the year, instead of months after school had already begun, allowed them to better understand the other concepts as time went on. She uses this data to work cohesively with her partner teacher, but also her whole team uses this data to help their grade as a whole grow. They are also seeing great gains in the way they split up all their 4th graders into specific groups. They share 96 students and provide them the tools and resources they need to better understand the standards they are learning.

In my classroom students learn that “Tu esfuerzo determina tus resultados”. They know that they must put forth their best effort and have a growth mindset. Yes, things are going to be hard, but we must persevere. We have a sense of community and support each other in our learning.

Salazar works to implement the arts and life outside the classroom by giving students tasks that allow them to use and express the things they are learning in both languages. Some of their assignments require parent communication and allows the opportunity for parent involvement. Students are also encouraged to participate in all of their after-school events which helps expand on their learning and gives parents an opportunity to see what their kids are learning.

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In her classroom, they have real life conversations on the benefits of being biliterate and the importance of doing their best in both languages. She believes that having discussions about the community they live in and the needs that are in the area, helps students to realize what their struggles are and how favorable it is for them to know two languages. She also allows students to share thoughts and ideas they have in the language they are comfortable in, then motivate them to present once more in the other language. They believe that mistakes are proof you are trying.

Being a Spanish teacher, I know it can be difficult to find the resources in the target language. Because of this, Kimberly has dedicated time to translate and find high quality materials to support her teaching. She is not afraid to take risks and transfer that confidence to the students who are learning in a new language. Sometimes, teachers do not get enough recognition for their work. I know Kimberly is someone who definitely deserves to be recognized for her dedication to dual language and her love of teaching. —Jose Diaz

Kimberly believes that working in a dual school helps all kinds of ideas grow and be implemented, though they may not always work; they do bring enlightenment of trial and error, along with redos and more great ideas. She goes to work every day with an understanding that there is no greater feeling than knowing that she has taken part in molding the future, and that the students of today are an essential piece that will help build the future.

She wants to be able to motivate and inspire students by encouraging and empowering them to achieve their goals. Helping them become aware that no goal is unattainable if you have the striving desire to meet it. Doing this in a dual language school helps students remember that they are obtaining so much more than just an education. They get all that along with the privilege of gaining another language, which will help them be more prepared for their upcoming career choices and future goals.

I know that with time, my students will realize that the ability to assist others and serve those around us is the greatest success one can have. They will show others that anything is possible, and even though times may get tough, their determination will get them through it all. Having a strong self-worth and positive self-esteem gives them the courage to show others that anything is possible. I want to be the teacher they remember that was always willing to listen to them, correct them, motivate them, and pushed them past their comfort zones and showed them they can do anything.