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Teachers for Teachers: A Connected Community

Over the past 22 years and more recently in the past 8 years I’ve had the opportunity to be part of countless teacher trainings and conferences. I love attending with my fellow teachers and students…knowing that we will leave that time together with a greater sense of focus and energy. I’ve mentored over 70 student teachers over the last 16 semesters at Loyola Marymount University and have partnered with two of my former students to co-teach in both My Escuelita: Spanish for Kids and as a Dual Immersion Kinder teacher. But nothing, absolutely nothing has been more powerful than my three days with Little Ripples Expert Teacher Advisors (ETAs). Among many feelings that I experienced during those three days was the calling to connect Teachers for Teachers.

This past weekend, Little Ripples Teacher Expert Advisors gathered at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles to co-create a teacher training manual that the ETAs will use this Spring during the Little Ripples teacher training in the refugee camps. The very intense and exhilarating process was possible because all participants made a commitment to bring forth passion, experience, resources and an openness to put the young refugee teachers first when designing and developing training modules that will help the refugee teachers not only teach the young children but also assist in their own personal journey of healing from the trauma of genocide.

Currently, one preschool teacher must manage an overcrowded area of sometimes over 100 children for 2 hours.

Currently, one preschool teacher must manage an overcrowded area of sometimes over 100 children for 2 hours.

While co-facilitating and during times of reflection, I thought a lot about teachers here in the United States and I began to make mental notes of some of the differences and similarities among us. I visualized a venn diagram with each side reflecting the US teacher vs the Darfuri teacher. In the middle of course, was the commonalities. This mental picture allowed me to stop and think about my personal connection to the pre-school teachers from Darfur. For one brief moment, I willed myself to focus just on the teacher…Who is she? What does she need from me? How can I support her? How can I communicate to her that she is appreciated? How can my experience help her? How can she help me become a better teacher? I re-explored what being a teacher really means. My focus was on that middle part of the venn diagram. Those universal similarities that connect all teachers whether you are a kindergarten teacher in Redondo Beach or a preschool teacher in a refugee camp outside of Darfur. Our jobs can be daunting at times, yet also similarly wonderful too.

I’m thankful for Stacey and her love and devotion to the mothers and children of Little Ripples. Her “Mamas for Mamas” video and her sheer joy when she speaks of Mama Ambassadors inspired me to formulate a real plan to help connect Teachers for Teachers. During the Expert Teacher Advisor Symposium I was moved by all the teachers who so selflessly gave of their time and experience to ensure that the Little Ripples teachers have all they need to be successful when our doors open this Spring. This weekend a community of teachers was born.

Teachers for Teachers will help our teachers, our children’s teachers, our school’s faculty members, our administrators and our PTA members make Little Ripples. Teachers know first hand the challenges that are faced each day in the classroom. We also know that only through building community can we face those challenges. I’m asking for all teachers to take a step back from their own classroom and help another teacher confront her challenges with the tools, materials, supplies and training we all have in abundance here at home.

As we approach the Spring and Teacher Appreciation Week (May 6-10, 2013), please take a moment to thank a teacher in your life. Connect with Little Ripples Teachers by sharing our website www.littleripples.org, visiting Facebook page  or sending an email to one of our team members and let us that you want to be a Little Ripples Teacher for Teacher. Here are 5 additional ways you can help a Little Ripples teacher:

1. Attend a Little Ripples: Teachers for Teachers event on Sat. May 18th, 2012 in Los Angeles. Email Irma@iactivism.org for more information and to RSVP.

2. Share information/flyers/website with your faculty members, parents and administrators at your school. Let me know if you would like brochures and we can mail them to you.

3. During teacher appreciation week in May, make a donation, buy a Little Ripples scarf or tote bag in honor of a special teacher in your life.

4. Invite your PTA to co-sponsor a Little Ripples school supply drive or collect funds to sponsor a Classroom Kit of supplies at the start of school.

5. Donate your Scholastic Book Club points to a Little Ripples teacher.

Thank you from the bottom of my teacher heart.

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Irma earned a Bachelor of Liberal Arts, a Bilingual Elementary Credential, and a Masters of Arts in Multicultural Education from Loyola Marymount University (LMU). She is the Founder and Director of My Escuelita: Spanish for Kids, a Spanish language program for children ages 2-10 that runs after school, during school breaks (winter, spring and summer), and in local businesses across the South Bay such as Mattel and Equinox. She has been an adjunct professor at LMU School of Education and Field Work Supervisor for LMU Bilingual and General Education Student Teachers. Irma has been involved in elementary school education since 1991. Currently, she teaches Kindergarden at Washington Elementary (Redondo Beach Unified School District) where she launched the Dual Immersion Spanish Program. Irma is a mom of three who attend 2nd, 4th, and 6th grade.


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