Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Teaching Gypsy

When you look up the word gypsy in the dictionary it states, "a person held to resemble a gypsy, especially in physical characteristics or in a traditionally ascribed freedom or inclination to move from place to place ("  When I look back at my short career in education, I can without a doubt affirm that life has transformed me into a teaching gypsy.

I started off my career in education when I was working on my master's at Texas A&M University. My mentor professor, Dr. C. Marshall, was going to be out and he asked me, his first year graduate student, to lecture his Natural History of Vertebrates class on the evolution of the kidney.  I spend hours going over my lecture, taking notes, adding examples, and prepping for my big showcase.  The day of the lecture I was in the lecture auditorium at the podium while the power point was being displayed and I gave freshman college students about an hour and a half lecture on kidneys. Who knew I would eventually get so excited about teaching kidneys! I was on a personal high and it was that moment in time that I decided a career in education was definitely in my future.

After receiving my master's I moved to Miami.  Since then I have been blessed with many educational opportunities, or what I like to call, steps in my educational journey.  In Florida, I worked as a science coach at Homestead Senior, mentored freshman students through the IMPACT Miami Science Museum summer  program, taught Integrated Science and Biology at Somerset Academy where I became the science department chair, Earth Day coordinator, and Fairchild Challenge sponsor.

My next adventure brought me back to the sweet state of Texas.  I worked as the Biology PLC leader at Stafford High School and ran the school science club.  During my summers off, I mentored students in the DREME camp and learned about medical genetics at MD Anderson.  My gypsy nature then brought me back to my alma mater, Bellaire High School where I worked with an amazing set of science teachers.  Here I perfected working with ESL students in science and I learned what a true PLC, or professional learning community, was all about.  My class expectations were also increased as I taught truly rigorous PAP classes. I also became part of the technology Power Up Teacher Leader Corps since Houston ISD was piloting 1:1 in many of its high schools.  Here my passion for technology was awakened.

I received an opportunity to take on a magnet coordinator position at East Early College High School in Houston and stayed in that position for half a year until my husband's job moved us back to my birthplace, little old Brownsville.  I finished off the year teaching Aquatic Science and Anatomy and Physiology at Veterans Memorial until Los Fresnos offered me the district's secondary science strategist position which is where my gypsy heart has happily landed.

10 paper cranes for the 10 educational journeys throughout my gypsy teaching career.

Last week I was reflecting back on my educational journeys throughout my year in education and I made a paper crane for each of the ten educational journeys that have made me who I am today.  Although I LOVE my science strategist position at Los Fresnos, who knows where the wind will blow me next as my teaching gypsy adventures continue...

A short video tutorial if you are interested in making your own paper cranes to reflect back on your educational journeys.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Teaching Is In My DNA

DNA Model Student Projects
I was interviewing for my first real, full time teaching position after I completed my Master's degree.  One of the first interview questions the principal asked me was, "So, Mrs. Guzman, why do you want to teach?"  I thought for a few seconds and my natural response..."Teaching is in my DNA."  She told me that was the perfect answer, and although it is a perfect answer, in my case it really is true!

Both of my parents are educators at heart.  My father taught secondary science and then became a lawyer, but now works as the school board attorney for one of the largest school districts in South Texas. All of my father's sister's are teachers and my paternal grandparents were both teachers as well.  My mother started her career in education as a math teacher over twenty years ago.  She later become an elementary school counselor, then an assistant principal.  She recently retired, but is still involved in education by supervising new teachers involved in an alternative certification program.  Luckily, my entire life, I have been surrounded by excellent educators so teaching came natural to me.
Modeling my DNA earrings
created by one of my students

I always had my high school students complete a Careers in Science project. My students would always ask why I am a teacher, since the pay is so minimal and we have such a difficult job.  My answer to them is always, because of YOU (the students).  My students keep my fire for education burning and they inspire me to be a lifelong learner. I actively look for professional development opportunities for myself since I always strive to do better.  I want to ensure I am providing them a strong science foundation that will help them in the real world and hopefully inspire them to love science as much as I do. I hope this personal drive to keep moving forward as an educator is reflected back to the students and teachers I have worked with in the past, currently work with, and will work with in the future.  

To all the educators out there, think about what keeps your internal fire burning for education?

Science Teacher Student Career Project

Monday, March 7, 2016

Diving Into the Blogging World!

Hello!  My name is Alejandra Guzman and I have been an educator for almost eight years now.  I have taught middle and high school science in five different school districts and I have a passion for both science and technology.  Today, I decided I was going to take a risk and finally dive into the world of blogging!  I feel like the little girl in the picture above, excited but a bit nervous about how this experience is going to be.  I hope to share useful information to other educators about new teacher support, the easy integration of technology into the classroom, professional development, empowering teachers, and much much more in the realm of education.  Grab a snorkle and some flippers and join me in my new blogging adventures.