California Educator

August/September 2023

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Page 21 of 71

California's Teachers of the Year share advice as new school year begins By Julian Peeples Words from the Wise A S E D U C A T O R S A N D S T U D E N T S across California head back to classrooms for the new school year, there is a feeling of limitless potential (even if summer was too short). We checked in with the five 2023 California Teachers of the Year to get their thoughts as the new school year begins and advice for fellow educators looking to kick off the year right. Jason Torres-Rangel A P E N G L I S H T E A C H E R United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) California nominee for National Teacher of the Year What does it mean to you to be an educator? Being an educator means the world, it means everything. You get to help prepare the next generation of participants in our democracy, you get to help students become the best version of themselves, you get to help create a humanizing experience for your students, and you get to let them change and alter you. That all carries with it great honor, responsibility and privilege that I think few professions in this world can come close to. Advice about making connections with students? Do what feels right in your heart, be authentic to who you are, lead with love and make space for play and games and humor. Sometimes it's right to ditch the content lesson you had planned and go outside and engage in some fun community-building activities. And no student is too old for play and games and fun — even high schoolers love activities designed for elementary students. Especially after Covid, all students are still just craving the basic things: friendship, camaraderie, connection, safety, trust and love. Start there, the rest will follow. 20 Feature

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