It was a Dual Language Fiesta!

HISD’s dual language administrators and educators came together last Wednesday to review and share best practices and to celebrate this year’s achievements and lessons learned in the annual Dual Language Fiesta.

The two-hour event, held at Coop Elementary, focused on nine tertulia topics:
1. Data tracking, disaggregation and progress monitoring
2. Intentional teacher planning
3. Parent engagement
4. Keeping the commitment and the 3 goals in mind
5. Staff and community engagement
6. Fostering a climate of cross-culturalism and bilingualism
7. Innovation in dual language – Making it work
8. Thinking outside the box in dual language
9. Dual language collaborating and networking

During the tertulias, principals from different campuses were leading the table discussions sharing best practices and brainstorming with each other next steps of dual language implementation based on their experiences.

Assistant Superintendent for Multilingual Programs, Dr. Altagracia ‘Gracie’ Guerrero expressed her deep gratitude to all participants. “I know we don’t do much in celebrating but I wanted to take this time and celebrate all your hard work and accomplishments. Seeing your passion, work and how you keep the main thing in mind while taking risks,  are the elements that are truly changing not only kids potential but their opportunities, and I dare say, changing families.”

The Dual Language Fiesta culminated with a panel discussion in which elementary principals from Memorial, Coop, and Scarborough reviewed lessons learned throughout the school year.

Tudon Martinez, principal at Coop Elementary manifested that one his most valuable lessons learned during these three years has been to learn to avoid taking too many things at once. “Pace yourself for fidelity because there are many moving pieces to this model, to this type of program, to truly understand what the elements are. Make sure everyone on your staff understands it. Make sure that anyone visiting your campus sees that it is a Dual Language campus.”

For principal Miriam Medina, one of their focuses this year was being committed to the expectations. “Set them from the beginning and go through with it. For example, a child will be reading, speaking, listening and writing in both languages. The expectation is for that child to go from PK all the way through fifth grade and eventually to middle school and high school. Are you committed? You should ask. Do you want to come on board and take this journey with us?”

Memorial’s ES principal, Dr. Maria Teresa Garcia, insisted that for them their lesson learned was “meeting the needs of students and also parents”. “Having an opportunity to listen to parents’ expectations and what they need helps us as a campus become more strategic in what we need to do. Right now we are moving towards a 50-50 model, we looked at the pros and cons, at the needs of our school and community and also, at the strenght of our teachers.”

“As a district –said Dr. Guerrero–, we learned that having as a focus that differentiated support to campuses and being able to offer continued TDS support, coaching to teachers and, of course, customized staff development makes us stronger. This year we had difficult moments: Flooding, delayed school start but with every struggle comes a blessing, and we are so much stronger because of it, so here it is to a great 2018-2019 and I’m looking forward to working closely with you again next year.”

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