By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin
Three CTA members were among those recently named as the 2013 California Teachers of the Year: I’Asha Warfield, Sebastien Paul De Clerck, and Veronica Marquez.
“These wonderful teachers have shown the kind of skill, passion and dedication that exemplify the very best of the most important, most demanding and most rewarding profession there is,” says state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. “I congratulate and thank them for the work they are doing to brighten the future of their students and our state.”
Over the next few months, we will profile each of these outstanding teachers in turn.
I’Asha Warfield is a seventh-grade English teacher at Oakland’s Frick Middle School. She works as a coach in the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) program to help new teachers and is a consultant to the Bay Area Writing Project, which presents teacher trainings on secondary literacy with an emphasis on writing. Superintendent Torlakson describes this Oakland Education Association member as being “at the top of her game” in helping students master lessons. She will represent California in the National Teacher of the Year competition this year.
Favorite classroom strategies: I use Socratic seminar: discussion in which the leader asks open-ended questions and students listen closely to the comments of others, think critically for themselves, and articulate responses to the thoughts of others. It is a great way to put students in charge of their learning, teach facilitation skills and stimulate deeper understanding of text. I love Graffiti Board for students to synthesize and share their learning through words and images. I hang large pieces of papers on the walls. Each sheet is labeled with our lesson focus. For example, if we are writing a character analysis, each sheet bears a character's name. Each group of 3-4 students has about two minutes at each poster where each student "tags" the wall with words, symbols or pictures about the label. It is also a quick, formative assessment.
Favorite classroom resources: I love my Elmo document camera. It provides a way to do writing with students and model my thought processes. And I love my flip-cam. I record my classes often. Students watch the recordings and, using a rubric, evaluate their learning. Likewise, I have had a group of teachers watch the recordings to evaluate my teaching.
Favorite Internet links: I tend to search and find resources all over the Internet from the numerous teachers who share their practice online. Two sites I go to often are readwritethink.org and www.nsrfharmony.org (follow the links to “Protocols”).
Words to live by: Don’t tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I’ll tell you what you believe.
On having a mentor: My principal, Jerome Gourdine, is my mentor. More than mentoring me with instruction, he has helped me understand the developmental aspects of the middle school child, which has a profound impact on my practice.
Favorite books for professional development or classroom use: 50 Debate Prompts for Kids by Michael S. Dahlie and Patrick Daley; Teaching Adolescent Writing by Kelly Gallagher; Mechanically Inclined by Jeff Anderson.
Why I stay in teaching: In college, I was overwhelmed with “saving the world.” I concluded that there was no way that I could dramatically impact all the areas of our world in dire need of attention and solutions. Yet, I figured, if I work with an average of 125 students a year, I would create the capacity to effect change in 125 diverse areas. If I am able to spark curiosity and help each student discover one area in which they are passionate, the ripple effect would begin.