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    It doesn't matter how far you have to walk, how hard you have to work, or the obstacles you must overcome; as far as you have peace with your mind and heart, keep going and do not stop. Last year...

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    Letter to Colleagues

    Dear Ms. De Los Santos: Last month, I participated in a professional learning experience with LUTE-STEM at Lehman College. I learned a lot about Multimodal Literacy, Habits of Mind, the Descriptive Review of a Child Protocol, and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy.  There...

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    • Hi Regina,

      I am glad you understood that the Habits of Mind aren’t just for teachers. We can use them to teach students and support their learning while developing social-emotional skills and how to interact with the outside world. While we teach the Habits of Mind to students, we are helping to decrease discrimination, bullying, and racial rage in the classroom.

      I loved your video subjection. It looks like you already took Prof. David Fletcher’s class “Historical Foundations of Education.” I believe that implementing a restorative circle with middle and high schoolers helps to create a connection and relationship with the students.

    • Dear Marlen,

      I think that your proposal brings up some important points in relation to social-emotional learning. The central vehicle of the Restorative Circle lessons in which students can “speak their minds and heart out, share personal and academic stories, and give feedback and comment to each other,” will no doubt provide a rich learning environment in which information can be shared in a multidirectional fashion, through a complex network of formal and informal channels.

      A part of your proposal that stood out to me was that in which you said, “[t]he students will be making a connection with each other stories and feelings. They will choose the topics of their preference to discuss during the circle and they will compose the community agreement.” This statement seemed to be at the heart of your approach. That is, for the instructor allow the students to take the reins over their own learning by guiding a discussion from within rather than imposing a conversation from without. In my (limited) professional experience leading Circles, the strategy certainly lends itself to successful learning — if not at least some rich, interesting and thought-provoking discussion.

      Another section of your proposal which I found compelling and interesting was actually the one on the academic standards. “Connections: Connect with other disciplines and acquire information and diverse perspectives to use the language to function in academic and career-related situations,” “Communication: Communicate effectively in more than one language to function in a variety of situations and for multiple purposes,” and “Communities: Communicate and interact with cultural competence to participate in multilingual communities at home and around the world.”

      I’m not so familiar with the standards of language education, since it’s outside of my content area, but I was struck with how clearly these three different anchors outline paths to linguistic fluency. Although I’ve never really thought about it so specifically before now, communication, connection and community have indeed been at the heart of my own ability to learn and understand new languages and skills, and I’m sure that of many others as well.

      I would assume that you’re already familiar with the learning theories of Lev Vygotsky. He proposed that learning takes place within a social system, and that relationships are key to learning new skills. I found a document online published by which gives an overview of Vygotsky’s work. You can read the document here: I think and hope that you find it as interesting and applicable to your own work as I have found it to mine, since it gets at the heart of the relationship between social environment and intellectual development.

      Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next because I’m interested in seeing the outcome of your lesson plans and thinking about how they might be applicable to my own methods and learning.



    • Dear Marlen,

      I enjoyed reading your post Letter to the Colleagues because of the proposed idea to have restorative justice circles to “to speak their minds and hear out, share personal and academic stories, and give feedback and comment to each other”. This method of self-reflection I believe can be utilized Monday and Friday to gather feedback of the week and use as knowledge to improve their social-emotional learning. Such practice can be utilized during homeroom to ground students in the morning to start the day.

      Another sentence that stood out for me is: “they will choose the topics of their preference to discuss during the circle and they will compose the community agreement” because this is a great example of student-centered approaches in lesson planning. The lives of students and their intra-communal experiences find common ground vital to establishing community and solidarity with each other.

      Have you seen this I thought you might be interested in this because Paulo Freire speaks on the need to develop a certain virtue of tolerance in students at the center of cultivating multiculturalism and multiliterate education with peers from diverse backgrounds.  

      Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next regarding the implementation of the restorative circle especially done outside the classroom. In addition, I look forward to seeing how students respond to using the Habits of mind you selected.    

      Educationally yours,

  • I met this wonderful woman at Hunter College when I was completing my BA in Spanish Literature. During my second year, I felt I could make it, and I reached out to a supportive program I found called “the mentoring program” because I recognized I couldn’t do it alone. They paired me with Estella Natal, who served as my academic and personal coach…Read More

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