- Tempe Union High School District
- TUHSD Newsroom
#WordsofWisdomWednesday: Week Five
In our fifth installment of #WordsofWisdomWednesday, we hear from two science teachers at Marcos De Niza. Phil Verdugo is a co-teacher working to help integrate Special Education students in general education classrooms, working to provide appropriate modifications and accommodations to help students access the material and successfully demonstrate their knowledge and understanding. Cheryl Dunham is a National Board Certified teacher who not only teaches science, but is also preparing to help mentor the first cohort of TUHSD teachers through the National Board Certification process.
Phil co-teaches science and shared at the beginning of the year he was, “a little worried about how students would respond to distance learning.” Fortunately, this worry was managed because, “I consider myself a lifelong learner and was excited for the opportunity to improve my Schoology skills. I felt like the more I could learn the more effective I could be in helping students become more successful. I felt like all the online training throughout the summer was helpful in setting up an effective online classroom for our students. However, the opportunity to collaborate with my co-teacher to create a plan to better help service students for the upcoming year helped ease all concerns.” He further explains the value of this collaborative approach to learning and planning together, “We completed the online Schoology training and really challenged ourselves to implement what we learned in our online classrooms . As a Special Education teacher I took time to review student Individualized Education Plans (IEP's). This helped us modify assignments or to provide a lesson universal for all learners.”
Cheryl said, “I felt like this school year was my first year teaching. I was both excited and nervous for what the year would hold for myself and my students. Although I felt proficient in using technology, I took classes and other professional development to prepare for virtual learning. I reached out to my colleagues and professional networks to expand my “tools” for virtual learning. I knew that building my community of learners would be challenging but I was hopeful. I was thankful that I had experience using Schoology before we went virtual. I was able to utilize some new tools on Schoology and create a framework for an organized virtual classroom. Google Assignments has been wonderful and so easy to manage.”
Both Cheryl and Phil, like our previous contributors to the #WordsofWisdonWednesday campaign, stressed the value of the opportunities to work with their colleagues to refine practice and learn collectively. Cheryl shared, “I have been fortunate to work with an amazing team of science teachers! We shared ideas and helped each other prepare.“
The two teachers also shared the importance of building relationships with their students. Phil says, “I learned that whether we are in our traditional classroom or online classroom, it is imperative to cultivate professional relationships with our students. Not only does this help with enhancing the learning process. It also helps with classroom management.” Cheryl adds, “Project based learning with defined goals has been the key. Making sure students have the freedom to create and share their creations with others has been a lifesaver.”
Cheryl is also leading our first cohort of teachers who will be working to earn the National Board Certification. To learn more about the process and how to join the virtual TUHSD pre-candidacy course starting soon, please read this PDF.
If this is something you have considered and you are curious to learn more, here is a promotional video Cheryl has created to help explain the process.