Know And Remain True to Your North Star

A morning walk of reflection at CAL Poly Pomona

Everyone should get to get up in the morning and walk and take in views like this. I didn’t realize that Cal Poly Pomona had so much beauty on the campus. This morning I got up and took a walk before the conference. Here are a few photos.

Over the course of the days here I am coming to understand the importance of the work we do each day at HSHMC, and the work my colleagues are doing in schools and classrooms across the nation to make this country, and the world, a better place. I pulled from quotes from the past few days to highlight some of the musings in my mind this evening.


“To some degree, this is about staying in touch with the passion about children’s rights to their language, to an education, to their culture- to rectify the inequities in schools and society. But to some degree, it is also more specific- about realizing what part of that matters to you and why- and always keeping it in your heart.”


I am thinking today how I want our work to transform education for English learners, particularly those students designated as LTELs, that label that defines and most likely confines many of students. In thinking about the work I am doing, it is about sharing the work with all content area teachers in a way that will make curriculum more accessible and meaningful. It is about breaking the academic language barrier, helping students speak and write in academic ways. This is my goal, with three decades in education working with ELs, I want so much to use that experience to better support students in our humanities classes, and then share those strategies out to a bigger audience.

“Advocacy is not what we do for others but what we do with others to transform our community.” 

NEA ELL Advocacy Guide 2015

Forming alliances with like minded people is what makes a difference. Find your tribe, Find the people who can support your goals and aspirations. Together you can do more than going out on your own.

“How important it is as EDUCATORS to stand up- and that you cannot necessarily count on people who SHOULD stand up, to do so.” Rosa Salinas

Find it in your heart to do what is right, when it is needed.Be brave. Be brave enough to have conversations that matter.So many times I find myself looking to see who else will stand up, when in reality if we are honest with ourselves, we realize that we each need to take that first step. It isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it. It is important to take the time to explore your own thoughts, discover what it is as go after it. Don’t wait for the people who “are supposed to” take action, be the leader. If you do it right, many people will join you. Take the first step, speak up and take thoughtful, purposeful action to bring a positive resolution to a situation.

“ANY steps forward, any brave efforts, baby steps even. Find ways to highlight and share it. Give them recognition. Present and talk about their work. Give them that sense of being valued .” Yee Wan

Finally, be generous with your spirit. Honor those that take risks, teachers who go out on a limb to make a difference for our kids. Honor the small steps students take every day to get better. Value the process, and bring that recognition outward. Celebrate along the way, keeping your eye on the greater goal. Make space to honor others, it is truly one of the most important things we can do to ensure people continue to take risks and work hard. We are stronger and better together.


Changing Hearts and Minds

Bringing these along to discuss and share with all who will listen.

Getting right down to business at the EL Advocacy







This has been quite a week, working on doctoral chapters, traveling with my school team to New Orleans, and now a four-day Institute on EL Advocacy. There isn’t a more crucial time for this work than now with the divisiveness facing our nation on so many issues.

The key idea I took away from today was we look to change hearts and minds regarding the educational issue of English Learners. What does that look like? How do we speak to be understood rather than just be heard? How do we listen to opposing views to look for truths in issues that we may not want to face? Us vs. them mentality gets us nowhere. We need to come together, face the fact we aren’t perfect and look at what can be improved. Most importantly, bring real examples and faces to problems and successes in our work. It can be daunting. It is about equity. It is important, and at times exhausting which is why coming together like this is so important.

I am working with 50 other passionate people who I don’t know, who care about what it means to support English Learner education. Getting together to learn how to advocate for this group of students begins by looking at the history of English learner education.

By learning about our past we can work toward a better future. Here’s to a productive and enlightening few days.

A history of the work.

We All Have Blessings in our Day to Day Lives, We Have to Remember to Count Them

I just took a trip to New Orleans with some colleagues from my site this past weekend. It was a whirlwind trip, there about 48 hours, with a focus on setting an agenda for the coming school year on what it means to be restorative, how can we grow stronger as a site, and how can we encourage relationship building on all levels, admin, staff, students, families. Big ideas, great conversations. It was a time of work and play, both designed to build relationships and understanding. I was nervous about going since I am literally old enough to be the mom of most in attendance, but I learned we all have something to offer, to share, and experience does not always quantify by age. I left knowing that although I view the world with my own distinct lens, that view is valuable, just as the thoughts and views of everyone who was there.

Today I threw myself back into my work, my writing, and the laundry. All of these things demanding more time and attention than I could muster, but muster I did. I ended the day at the gym because I am promising myself that I need to take care of my mind, body, and spirit this summer. I didn’t want to go, but as usual, once you get there, you always feel better

Todd Durkin, owner of Fitness Quest 10 is a world renowned trainer, working with people like me and professional athletes. His attention to people, his motivation and drive are contagious. It isn’t about just working out hard, it is working out well, finding balance. Tonight he said something as we were stretching that stuck with me, “We all have blessings every day, we need to take the time to count them.”  As I lay there stretching, that really hit me. Do we take time every day to truly reflect? So I lay on the mat and counted my blessings, starting with my family, moving to friends, work, my studies (especially my ‘#firestarters”,  having a career I love, and finally, the fact I could even stretch at all.

So here’s to counting blessings, whether you do it in the morning before you head out to face the world, or at the end of the day like I do. Sit in silence, let gratitude envelope you, take notice of the positive things in your life, and the challenges that help you grow. Spread positivity and remember there is more light than darkness in the world It is tough right now, but as my crew always tells me, “We got this.”