VISD teachers prepare for new year

Gabriella Canales By Gabriella Canales

Jan. 8, 2018 at 8:27 p.m.
Updated Jan. 9, 2018 at 6 a.m.

Melissa Jecker, 37, left, theater teacher; and Beatriz Raley, 52, Spanish teacher, both of Patti Welder Middle School, look outside the school bus window during a tour through the neighborhoods from which their students come.

Melissa Jecker, 37, left, theater teacher; and Beatriz Raley, 52, Spanish teacher, both of Patti Welder Middle School, look outside the school bus window during a tour through the neighborhoods from which their students come.   Qiling Wang for The Victoria Advocate

The bold yellow school bus that chugged through the Patti Welder Middle School area traveled with a mission to shorten the distance between teachers and students.

"It's a reminder of who our students are and where they come from," said Principal Denise Canchola. "You have to know where they come from to know where they are going. Be compassionate."

About 80 teachers and staff toured the neighborhoods where their students live for the first time as faculty Friday as part of their training to build relationships after the Christmas break.

The session was one of many districtwide and campus trainings for teachers when they return to campus.

Belated "Happy New Year" shouts from teacher to teacher in classroom to classroom followed by hugs and how- do-you-dos signaled the start to learning and the end of the Christmas holiday. The welcoming atmosphere is common, said Jennifer Garnett, lead special education teacher.

"We visited over break and stayed connected," Garnett said. "Patti Welder is like a family."

Going back to work means paperwork for the campus' special education department, she said. Her office prepares to work with more than 80 students this year.

From tracking student schedule changes and behavior plans to preparing lesson plans, data is a campus focus for the school year, Garnett said.

Data binders are a new tool for teachers and contain information about each student since second grade, Canchola said.

Students also keep track of their progress in multiple subjects and their goals in a binder designed for them, she said.

The days before students return allow teachers to prep those materials, Canchola said. Teachers also engage in several activities that teach them more about the students so they can build relationships with them.

"It's always fun because the teachers get to han gout," Garnett said about brainstorming, sharing ideas and working with other educators.

She said her goal this year is to inspire a desire to learn in her students.

"We can teach all day long, but building those relationships will help them learn," she said.

To re-establish the learning environment, Garnett said she plans to let her students air out their Christmas break experiences at the beginning of class.

"They want to talk about it, and they are excited to see each other," she said. "We get to regroup, and get back to learning."


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