Author: Arcelia Elizabeth Guillermo-Rios

5th Grade Dual Language Teacher Desert Trail Elementary Gadsden Independent School District
New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: Arcelia Guillermo-Rios

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: Arcelia Guillermo-Rios

The most meaningful part of teaching is having my students become self advocates; measuring success in my classroom is more than numbers.  Success needs to be seen, heard, and felt.  Seeing my students taking initiatives in their learning represents them taking ownership, responsibility, and the drive to aim high!

My name is Arcelia Elizabeth Guillermo-Rios, born in El Paso, Texas, from a hard working single-mother family. Due to several life difficulties, our family encountered many struggles.  School and innovative teachers became beacons of stability, encouragement, and reassurance.  These experiences developed into a persistent and positive impact in my life and generated my interest in becoming a teacher.

I graduated from New Mexico State University with Bachelors in Education and Masters in Curriculum and Instruction with endorsements in Bilingual Education. For twenty years I have taught a variety of grade levels, currently I teach 5th grade Self Contained Dual Language at Desert Trail Elementary.  As a bilingual teacher I strive to promote high academic standards integrating bilingualism, bi-literacy, multicultural development, and create opportunities of student/parent contribution, discovery, and empowerment.

In 2016, I was selected the National Association for Bilingual Education Teacher of the Year. The following year I became a New Mexico Teacher Leader State Ambassador where I continue to gain knowledge, resources, and support to enhance my profession.  Currently, I am also part of the Educators for High Standards and The Collaborative for Student Success: Aim High Fellowship. Through the Aim High Fellowship, my students and I have been developing skills in self reflection to promote listen and practice, learning the value of academic challenge, and measure growth as learners. To keep that optimistic spirit, we have been partnered with a professional athlete to encourage and inspire the students. The athlete is former NFL Dallas Cowboy Raghib Ismail better known as “Rocket”. It is a privilege to receive the support of so many caring people; this enhances my commitment and love for my profession.

Building Social Studies Materials and New Forms of Teacher Collaboration

Building Social Studies Materials and New Forms of Teacher Collaboration

The most valuable part of the Social Studies Dream Team “TeachFest” experience is the opportunity to step out of one’s own bubble and to interact with colleagues from around the state. The sheer breadth and depth of experience, both personal and professional, was both humbling and inspiring.  There were people from all over the country, whose experience ranged from business owner to Peace Corps volunteer, from law enforcement officer to U.S. AID worker—all of whom have chosen to work as teachers in New Mexico.  The ice breakers and conversation starters at the beginning helped foster a sense of community and shared purpose, which laid the foundation for productive collaborations.

I did my teaching certificate work at the University of Houston and have been teaching for 21 years—first in southwest Houston for three years, and now in Albuquerque since 2000. I teach all areas of social studies, but primarily government and AP Government.  I was the AP Lead teacher at Cibola High for the past 3-4 years.  My teaching partner and I were the first in the state to pilot the AP Capstone program.  I also teach a little beginning French when needed, and I currently co-author or co-edit 2 AP review books for McGraw Hill Publishing, Co. (5 Steps to a 5…AP World and AP European History).  As such, I set the bar high for all my students.

I think it is important for us as teachers to step outside our comfort zones, and to recognize that our profession extends beyond our classroom walls, our department and our school. At the Dream Team TeachFest, teachers from the largest high schools in Albuquerque swapped stories with teachers from tiny rural K-8 schools.  It was quite the exchange of ideas!  To gain a broader perspective regarding the challenges facing teachers across the state is to become more understanding and tolerant, much like the character education we do as social studies teachers.  And we had guest speakers with a range of perspectives as well: the Teacher Liaisons from the PED and remarks from Debra Marquez and Anthony Burns from the PED’s Instructional Materials Bureau served to reinforce the idea that we are part of education policy in a larger context, and that our influence can extend beyond our classroom.

Teaching can be a solitary profession, and for years the only way to extend our influence beyond the classroom was to leave the classroom. It is gratifying to see that there are now ways for teachers to expand their impact while still remaining teachers.  The fact that the PED Secretary-Designate Ruszkowski took the time to come to the event and listen to teachers’ concerns underscores the idea that we can and should look beyond our classrooms.  Though we may not always agree with his answers in-full, that he would take the time to have the discussion as a fellow social studies teacher is, in itself, a step in the right direction.  We need more dialogue, not less.

As new members of the Dream Team, the scope of the required lessons seemed overwhelming at first, but as the presenters and facilitators walked us through the process our ideas began to take shape. Our project facilitator was an effective sounding board for ideas and concerns, but also kept the conversations fun at the same time.  Though it took some time for us to develop a project appropriate in scope, we left with a clear picture of what tasks remained.  Despite our differences and our diversity of interests, the fact that everyone there had given up his or her time for the common purpose of creating something beneficial for New Mexican students is reassuring.

We will create materials that every social studies teacher around the state can use, but the idea of teacher-leadership in social studies and beyond, fostered by Cohort 2 of the New Mexico Dream Team, has possibilities far beyond that.

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: John Turrietta

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: John Turrietta

It all comes down to the teacher’s relationship with the students, the knowledge and presentation of the material and keeping them engaged.  Along my evolution as a teacher, I have tried departmentalization, ability grouping, gender grouping, Whole Brain Teaching, and now a flipped classroom.  Yet it still concludes with me and my students.

From the time that I was in the 3rd grade, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher.  Standing in front of a classroom, presenting and interacting with my students is the fruition of that dream.  I entered first grade not knowing English, and exited 3rd grade with the goal of being a teacher.  My grandfather made it clear from the time that I was a young boy, that education would always be the right road to travel.  He added to my determination that I would, one day, be an educator.

As that 3rd grade student that stayed after class to help with bulletin boards, pound dust out of chalk, sort dittos, and just generally help around the classroom, I always knew it was about the learning.  In playing school with my cousin and brother, I gave tests and handed out report cards.  Who knew testing would be such an issue in years to come?  While testing is not everything it is a gauge of financial success in later life.  Its about the teaching for me.  The learning.  As a product of APS and UNM, I want to make a difference for the children of New Mexico.

As a teacher, I have never wanted to be out of the classroom.  That’s where the action is….where the magic happens.  That’s where I need to be; on the frontlines of education.  Every year is a fresh start to try new things with an entirely new group of students.  What other career gives you a fresh start each year?  There are so many ways to teach.  No one has a monopoly!

Next year, Rio Rancho will assign each 5th grade class a Chrome Book Cart.  An entirely new delivery of teaching! It is never boring and always rewarding and exciting.  Kids will never remember the workbook page, but they will always remember your classroom environment and how you delivered material.

From Schoolhouse To Roundhouse: How Authentic Teacher Voice Shaped (Most) Of The State’s Education Budget For Next Year

From Schoolhouse To Roundhouse: How Authentic Teacher Voice Shaped (Most) Of The State’s Education Budget For Next Year

Colleagues —

With an opportunity-rich (some seized, some not) 2018 Legislative Session now behind us, I wanted to take this opportunity to review some of the substantial commitments the state budget makes to public education.

Here in Santa Fe, and inside the Roundhouse, the funding bill is referred to as HB2 (House Bill 2).  As we all know, deciding how you are going to spend your money is one of the best ways to determine priorities so HB2 is both a reflection of educational policy priorities and an overall financial appropriation for the State’s upcoming fiscal year (FY19, which is the 2018-2019 school year).

Your voice mattered this year—it was one of the first times in my career across multiple states that teacher-leaders, classroom teachers from across a state, and parents/families had a real voice inside a State Legislature. Historically, education policy and funding decisions are dominated by associations and interest groups—not necessarily by listening to all voices from all parts of a state.  Your voice was huge part of this process—and it was heard by our team at the PED, by the Executive branch, and by the Legislature.

It is also safe to say that in some areas, the Legislature made decisions in HB2 (now agreed to by both the House and the Senate and headed to the Governor’s desk) that could have real downsides for teachers, schools, and students.  It’s also safe to say that this funding bill also missed some opportunities to build upon and reinforce the areas of student academic progress and stakeholder engagement we’ve developed together over the last several years.

As the funding bill makes it way from the Legislative branch to the Executive branch, let’s review some highlights/lowlights in HB2 as of today:

As I see it, highlights from the 2018-2019 Public School Support package (HB2) include:

  • A teacher compensation increase, including significant raises in salaries for teachers (2.5%) and non-instructional school staff (2%), on top of an increase to the minimums for each licensure level, which would now be $36K/44K/54K for levels I, II, and III;
  • A small appropriation for Exemplary Teaching Awards, a groundbreaking effort to retain and reward some of the highest-performing teachers statewide – especially those that serve our most struggling schools and/or teach in the highest-need subject areas.  As I’ve shared with you, this strategy compliments the across-the-board increases above;
  • A sizable increase in funding for state Pre-K, which will allow the program to grow responsibly while maintaining the high standards of quality that have led to substantial outcomes for early learners.  This allocation will also result in several new Pre-K sites around the state that have demonstrated capacity and readiness to offer it for the first time;
  • An increase in K-3 Plus summer program funding that will allow for responsible expansion, while also including budgetary language incentivizing best practices that are leading to the most student growth in our schools;
  • An increase for both transportation and instructional materials funding (short of what the Executive branch proposed, but still meaningful);
  • More funding for professional development and teacher leadership opportunities for STEM teachers, and additional funding for the transition to NM STEM-Ready Standards;
  • Continuation of the key programs that have shown an outsized return on investment and student achievement.  We’ve seen several initiatives, which are reflected in the budget again this year, make a difference for kids in schools across the state–  Truancy and Dropout Prevention, Principals Pursuing Excellence, Teachers Pursuing Excellence, Reads to Lead, AP fee waivers, and many others;
  • Funding for a new Regional Educational Cooperative (REC) in San Juan County to assist districts in sharing resources and making support staff available to the entire region.

Alongside this progress, I believe there were several missed opportunities and areas of concern in HB2 as well, including:

  • The bill currently includes language that Exemplary Teaching Awards – while intended to be available to all – could be blocked at your district by your local teachers union;
  • The bill eliminates funding for Hard to Staff recruitment stipends for teachers.  Teacher Recruitment is major priority for the PED in 2018, even in a reduced funding environment;
  • The bill includes language that could substantially reduce funding for charter schools, early college high schools, vocational schools, alternative schools, and credit recovery programs.  We don’t believe these schools (and the students, teachers, and families who believe in them) should be targeted in this manner for a reduction in funding;
  • Though the PED requested $4.5 million in emergency supplemental funds – fund that can be used by districts who experience emergency situations such as natural disasters or man-made tragedies, or for districts experiencing declining enrollment or financial strain– the Legislature only appropriated $3 million in funding;
  • There is no increase to Dual Credit Instructional Materials, despite the PED’s request to double the funding;
  • The bill reflects a major cut in funding for professional development and training for Principals to provide meaningful evaluations and observations to teachers—the PED has consistently heard that this is a critical need area and will ensure that this vital training continues;
  • There is again no funding for Blended Learning (formerly IDEAL-NM) in HB2, which provides many students from rural/smaller schools a way to access courses that might not otherwise be available to them. The PED is committed to finding a way to provide course access to all students;
  • Lastly, this year’s budget bill include a major cut to Interventions and Support for Students, Struggling Schools, Parents, and Teachers – from $15 million last year to $4 million this year.  This comes on the heels of the PED announcing a $50 million support package for struggling schools as part of the state’s top-rated plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  To be fair, the Legislative Finance Committee probably views this as a $4 million cut and not an $11 Million cut, but this is a line item that should have been increased (or at least fully supported) given the focus on innovation, parent and family engagement, and teacher leadership within it.  Instead, it’s been reduced.

My team will be reviewing HB2 in full next week once it’s delivered, and we would love to hear your thoughts on any/all of the above over the weekend.  Your voice matters—and we’ve seen repeatedly that democracy belongs to those who show up.  As classroom teachers and hard-working families, we know that you can’t camp out at the Roundhouse for 30 days or more, but we hope to represent your beliefs, your aspirations for your students, and our profession.

We stand with you—and offer our sincere thanks to all who contributed time and energy to support what is right for kids.  I am more optimistic than ever about the future for New Mexico’s students, with a renewed resolve to roll up my sleeves and continue to do the hard work to make New Mexico’s schools and students the fastest growing in the country.

Please be in-touch!

Christopher N. Ruszkowski
Secretary of Education
New Mexico Public Education Department

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: Donna Hazen

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: Donna Hazen

Being a teacher in the public school system was not Donna Hazen’s lifetime goal. All she wanted to be was a wife, mom, and homemaker. However, life moved her into a full time teaching career. Her degree in motherhood taught her how to be sensitive to the child that struggled with health, self-esteem, bullying, and learning issues. Knowing the consequences of the above issues, Donna dedicated her teaching career to the child – not the subject. It has been her heart’s cry that her students discover their worth in society and their gifts and talents.  Donna tells her students, “The world is your classroom, so let’s see what you do with your world.”   Her most successful and productive styles of teaching are the “proactive” and “project-based learning styles,” which have empowered her students to embrace their “own” learning with the latest 21st Century skills and workforce ethics for  real world experiences and still revitalize their struggling rural community.

One of her greatest contributions is her Roundup Technology program, a 21st Century Entrepreneurial Program, project-based business “learning and earning” enterprise incorporated into the Mosquero Municipal Schools’ curriculum. Her entrepreneurs are revitalizing their community with the following student-run businesses: a county-based newspaper, historical research program that compiles and publishes a book, a gift shop/snack shack, high school students teaching K-6 workshops that encompass science, reading, history, and the agricultural world, a “Paint the Town” crew, an arena crew, a professional photo studio, print shop, and video productions’ studio.

We’re Listening & Your Voice Matters: A Legislative Update From The Secretary

We’re Listening & Your Voice Matters: A Legislative Update From The Secretary


Here’s the reality: HB310 is by far the most comprehensive, the most far-reaching, and the largest teacher compensation bill under consideration this legislative session.

That’s why I decided to testify on behalf of the diverse group of sponsors–Representatives Baldonado (Valencia), Clahchischilliage (San Juan), and Smith (Bernalillo, Sandoval, Santa Fe)—on Saturday morning:  because this kind of legislation has the potential to be transformative for educators, for students, and for this profession that we love.

It’s also important to note that the tabling of HB310 is part of a broader trend of unabashed partisanship that we have witnessed this session.  As a former middle school social studies teacher I am idealistic about the democratic process, and I believed that HB210 (Early Literacy Interventions & Family Engagement), HB 297 (Addressing Chronic Absenteeism), HB180 (More Funding For Schools, Less For District Offices), and HB177 (Teacher Advancement w/o Master’s Degree) would all garner enthusiastic bipartisan support.  After all, I’ve worked for leaders from both sides of the aisle who have supported similar ideas.  Two of these bills had bipartisan sponsors, and all four were revised based on feedback from legislators and the field.

Unfortunately, all of these bills were stopped in their tracks by hyper-partisanship at the Roundhouse this year.

HB310 did several things that I thought were noteworthy, and several things that stakeholders and legislators on both sides of the aisle had requested:

  1. Increased the starting salary of Level 1 teachers by $4,000 to $38,000, permanently
  2. Guaranteed a 2.5% salary increase to all educators, permanently
  3. Guaranteed a 2% salary increase to all non-licensed school staff, permanently
  4. Included a $5 million appropriation for teacher recruitment activities (and an amendment from the committee integrated teacher mentoring as well!)
  5. Increased the starting salaries of Level 2 and Level 3 teachers by $2,000, permanently


The House Education Committee had the responsibility to consider this bill on its educational merits.  A multi-pronged approach to improving teacher compensation is both necessary and overdue.  I believed it would generate bipartisan support and sufficient funding—but it was tabled in hyper-partisan fashion, same as the rest.

If you’re fuming, I get it.  You are working hard, advocating for your kids, trying to get involved while still working a full day.  Meanwhile, you’re up against powerful special interests groups that camp out in the Roundhouse for the full session.  It’s a situation that’s rigged against our students and, in many ways, our profession.

I still believe HB310 to be the strongest piece of teacher compensation legislation around, and given that many of you have reached out to me, it seems you may think so, too.  People have asked me—what can we do to keep this possibility alive, both in the short-term and the long-term?  Here are a few thoughts:

  • The House Education Committee members who tabled the bill could bring HB310 “off the table”
  • AFT/ATF was the only group that stood-up in opposition to HB310, yet they had substantial influence:
  • The Executive Budget recommendation included a multi-pronged approach to teacher compensation, and we will continue to fight for it
  • Over the long-term, more teacher and parent voice is needed in these processes—both during session and during the interim


All this being said, your advocacy and belief in elevating teacher and parent voices have not been for nothing.  We’re still working with the Legislature on a 2018-19 (FY19) budget that would include a large teacher compensation increase, a substantial increase in Pre-K funding, higher levels of funding for transportation and instructional materials, and the preservation of the successful programs that have driven outcomes in your schools (from AP fee waivers to Reads to Lead).  More than ever in our state’s history, there is a diversity of teacher and parent voices being heard on issues that impact our students.  Student achievement results are on the rise, we have the #1 State Plan under ESSA in the nation, and you’re building a community of educators and families that are demanding more for our kids.

It’s an honor and a privilege to work on your behalf every day.  Let your voices be heard—and remember that our civic and moral outrage must be sustained over time.  Our students need us to keep up the fight.

In partnership—


Christopher N. Ruszkowski
Secretary of Education
New Mexico Public Education Department

2018 NM Teacher Summit: Call For Presenters

2018 NM Teacher Summit: Call For Presenters



The New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) is seeking creative and innovative presenters for the Third Annual NM Teacher Summit which will take place at the Albuquerque Convention Center from June 18-19, with a projected attendance of 1350 participants. The 2018 Teacher Summit theme is Teaching with Purpose.

Phase 1 of the call for presenters will remain open until Friday, March 23, 2018. Applicants that are chosen for Phase 2 are required to submit presentation materials by Friday, April 20, 2018. The process is described below.



February 10—March 23:

Phase 1 submission window

March 23—March 31:   

Phase 1 submission review

April 5:   

Notification of acceptance to Phase 2; request for presentation materials

April 5—April 20:

Phase 2 presentation materials submission window

April 20—April 30:

Phase 2 submission review

May 4:  

Notification of presentation slot(s)

May 25:  

Final presentation PPT and hand-outs (if applicable) due to NMPED

Presentation topics:

Applicants are invited to choose a topic within their skill set and area of expertise. The topic should be relevant and applicable to New Mexico teachers’ classroom practice. The NMPED will support presenters with data and expertise, as needed. Below are a few suggested topics* that presenters may choose from:

·         Your content area or area of expertise ·         Native/Tribal Students
·         Classroom Practice ·         Special Education
·         Education Policy ·         Family Engagement
·         Teacher Leadership ·         Planning & Preparation
·         Assessments/Data to Drive Instruction ·         Formative & Short-Cycle Assessment
·         English Learners ·         Creating an Environment for Learning
·         *Any other topic or area of expertise

Session formats:

Teaching for Learning Sessions 90-Minutes—PreK-12 classroom methods, strategies, and techniques. This format allows enough time to teach a unit, include a make-n-take or other hands-on activities, use grouping techniques, etc.
Moderated Panels 60-minutes—a moderated panel of experts focused on current public education topics, initiatives, or policy. This format allows for the presenter to interview or lead a Q & A of panel of experts. The NMPED will support the presenter with the selection of panel members, if needed.
Information Sharing 60-minutes—a presentation or mini-lesson with Q & A time. This format allows for a presenter to model teaching practices during a presentation or mini-lesson.
The Learning Lounge 10-15 minutes—informal teaching and sharing by community partners, district & school leaders, or teachers at tables and in lounge areas before conference begins on Day 1 & Day 2.

Instructions for completing & submitting your application:

  1. Review the Blooms-Taxonomy-Teacher-Planning-Kit resource and use it as a guide when framing your submission.
  2. Review the 2018 Teacher Summit Proposal Rubric.
  3. Complete the Google Form Call for Presenters Application. (Google form submits automatically.)

Please note: Presenters/facilitators accepted through the voluntary call for presenters Phase 1 & 2 will be provided hotel accommodations; travel reimbursement will be based on the New Mexico Per Diem Act & Mileage Act. Accepted presenters/facilitators will also receive complimentary registration and are welcome to have lunch/dinner when provided during the Summit.


Teacher Spotlight: Stephanie Gurule-Leyba

Teacher Spotlight: Stephanie Gurule-Leyba

Every one of my students has a story.  I believe that by inspiring and elevating my students, their stories will be heard.  My motto: Listen, Learn, and Lead!

Stephanie Gurule-Leyba was raised in Las Vegas, New Mexico and is in her 22nd year at Capital High School in the Santa Fe Public Schools. She is a Project Lead the Way Biomedical Sciences certified teacher and teaches in the Medical Science Academy, a five-course STEAM-H pathway and is also the founder of Scrub Club, a three-summer STEAM-H enrichment program for 4th through 8th grade students. Stephanie is licensed in K-12 Science, Special Education, and Rehabilitation Counseling. She is currently working on her Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis in Learning, Instruction, and Innovation.  Stephanie is a graduate of Robertson High School in Las Vegas and has always admired her teachers, including her father, for really instilling in her life lessons that she shares with her students. She discovered that she enjoyed working with students and had exciting ideas that she wanted to share. Stephanie is very passionate about STEAM-H and career readiness and as a teacher she has the opportunity to share that passion with her students.

Stephanie believes that the job of a teacher does not end when the bell rings for the day. Everyday we teach, encourage, instruct, mentor, praise, influence, guide and inspire. Those who say, “Teaching is easy,” have never been a teacher. Those who say, “Teaching is not rewarding,” have never been a teacher. But, if these same people were to see and experience students’ intellectual growth, maturity, and an ownership of their learning, many would agree that teaching is the most fulfilling job because you have molded the mind and touched the heart of a student forever. Our students need to understand that they will never finish what they started. They will always be learning. It is important that we instill a culture of learning with our students and with their families and community. We are all teachers and our students are our future.

The relationships we build with our students is the key to their success; but student success is also reliant on the relationships that are built with our families and communities. Many look to teachers as those who are supposed to educate our children, but it is important that we work together in educating and raising our children to prepare them for their future. One person cannot do it alone; it takes a community to raise a child.

Lesson Planning with Hannah Peria

Lesson Planning with Hannah Peria

We are excited to share the fourth in our series of podcasts and webinars related to educational issues.  Please listen in as we interview the movers and shakers in New Mexico education.  Our fourth broadcast features Hannah Peria, Deputy Director of Priority Schools, where she reviews how the most successful teaching begins with clarity about desired learning outcomes and about the evidence that will show that learning has occurred.

Lesson Planning Webinar

Whole Brain Teaching: Roxanne Mitchell

Whole Brain Teaching: Roxanne Mitchell

Walk into any room at Sandia Elementary or an assembly including the entire student body, say, “Class”, and then be prepared to be amazed as every student immediately responds, “Yes”. This is just one of the exceptional engagement strategies utilized with Whole Brain Teaching.  The implementation of Whole Brain Teaching in our school has increased student engagement and excitement for learning in every classroom.  In upbeat, highly interactive classrooms, teachers have 100% participation from students at all levels and behavioral types.  Whole Brain Teaching can be used for excellent classroom management, character education, and exemplary lesson design. In nineteen years of teaching, I have never seen strategies so effective that can be adapted to any teacher and grade level.  Whole Brain Teaching is the game changer we have all been searching for in education today.

So here is the real deal. I attended a conference in Las Vegas this summer on Whole Brain Teaching.  From the first moments, I knew it was different.  Twenty minutes into the conference, I was texting my principal asking if we could be a pilot Whole Brain Teaching school.  All the while, I was trying to figure out how to use what I knew worked and incorporate what I was learning. I knew how to teach.  I had a lot of success. I am not saying this to brag in anyway, but I felt confident in my ability as a teacher and I knew great teaching.  I had scored exemplary for several years on my evaluation and was a 2017 Teacher of the Year finalist.  Boy, I was in for a wake up call.  All of the teachers attending the conference knew there were changes to make.  We returned to school and started our K-3 Plus program within a few weeks.  I was the administrator for the summer program. I wanted to use Whole Brain Teaching in my classroom to some extent until I saw it in action.  I walked in classrooms the first day of K-3 Plus using Whole Brain Teaching, and I was JEALOUS. As a teacher at heart, I wanted KIDS.  I wanted to teach the way the young teachers on our staff were impacting kids!  I remember that feeling, and I have been striving to achieve it from that day forward.  I cannot express how much I love my profession.  I have high standards for my students and I demand participation in class.  The difference now is the love of learning in our school and my classroom.  I asked the kids this afternoon what was better about Whole Brain Teaching than a traditional classroom. They surprised me as they so often do.  Their responses were varied, but included things like:

  • “The Golden Gritty game makes me realize I can do things that I did not think I could do.”
  • “Mirror Words lets me be physical, teach my partner, and totally focus on my learning.”
  • “Zowies and Triple Whammies took me from spending forever writing a paragraph to do it in minutes.”
  • “I can see a difference in the character of my classmates thanks to daily use of our Character Virtues.”

I know many of these terms sound foreign to individuals without experience with Whole Brain Teaching. Some days it still feels that way to me. But if you have taken time to read these words, please know it has changed me forever as a teacher, and more importantly, it has changed my students for the better.  That is something that can never be undone.  I have poured out my heart for the Whole Brain Teaching movement.  Please take time to look at it carefully.  You never know, your students may never be the same!

Check out for more information or contact Sandia Elementary, New Mexico’s own Whole Brain Teaching Pilot School. (575-769-4480)