Celia Sosa is a 2016 alumna mentor who teaches third grade at Braddock Drive Elementary School in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Shortly after finishing the ART of TEACHING Fellowship in 2016, an opportunity to work with Megan Franke, a renowned expert in Cognitively Guided Instruction and a professor of education at UCLA, presented itself. Celia now opens her classroom once a week during the fall to Megan’s graduate student teachers from UCLA, as a part of their Mathematics Methods course. These graduate students get a unique opportunity to work with Celia’s students, who have already been exposed to Cognitively Guided Instruction.
Tell us a little bit about your teaching background and what you like most about teaching?
This is my 24th year of teaching. Previously, I taught kindergarten and first grade. However, the last two years I have been teaching third grade. Interestingly, I attended Braddock many years ago as a student. I’ve always felt a real connection to Braddock since I grew up in the area.
The best part of teaching is definitely the kids. I love the connections I am able to make with the students. Seeing them grow and learn is extremely rewarding. Personally, teaching is very fulfilling because you see directly your students’ response to your teaching. Every day is different and even on those tough days, teaching is fun.
What was your reaction to Megan’s interest in your class?
At first, I was in disbelief. As a mentor, I had heard her speak and I read her books. Megan is a rock star in the world of CGI. Initially, she asked me if one of my fellows was interested, but I think I over did my excitement. So, she decided to use my students and we made plans for the fall of that year. I was very nervous. I was not sure what would be expected of me or my students, but once I figured out how it would work I felt so lucky.
What is a typical day with Megan Franke and Mathematics Method Graduate Students?
Every Tuesday, Megan and her student teachers meet in a separate room. The student teachers rehearse the lesson they are going to teach and Megan gives them feedback. After they finish preparing for the day, they join our class and we divide the students and teachers into small “buddy” groups. The student teachers teach their “buddies” their mini lesson, and afterward we debrief the lesson and discuss what they have learned about their “buddies.” Sometimes the student teachers watch Megan or me work with the kids, so they have the opportunity to see the lesson they will teach the following week.
What has it been like working with Megan and her class?
Working with Megan has been a wonderful opportunity for me. I feel so privileged to see her work first hand with my students. I have learned a lot and have tried to implement what I have learned. Working with her has also helped cement much of what I learned while being a Cotsen Mentor. It has truly motivated me to continue my own learning.
Additionally, when Megan comes into my class, my principal releases other Braddock teachers to also observe and learn. It’s a win, win, situation for all of us.
How has this opportunity affected your students’ learning?
First of all, my students absolutely love having Megan come into the class. She has been able to build such a positive rapport with them, so much so that I think it has helped them enjoy Math. I feel that having Megan in the class and working with the UCLA student teachers has helped my students build their confidence in solving problems. Math has become one of our favorite times in the day. My students always want to share strategies and I feel that they are truly engaged in each other’s thinking. As I analyze the student work, I can see the growth students have made.
The Cotsen Spotlight highlights the stories of alumni and current members of the ART of TEACHING fellowship. If you know of anyone who has a story to share, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will consider them for the next Cotsen Spotlight. Thank you!