Citlaxochitl Venzor-Enrique teaches first grade at Encanto Elementary. She teaches in the Dual Language Program, which means that she teaches 50 percent of the class in Spanish and teacher Amanda Herscovici teaches 50 percent in English.
Maestra Xochitl teaches reading and writing in Spanish while her partner teaches math and science in English, then they trade subjects every other week. Does that mean they work half days? No! They teach two classes with over 40 students.
Enrique has been teaching at Encanto for three years. She says that while this school year is different and online learning can be challenging, she wants to make sure her students take away some happy memories from this unusual year.
“I want to be one of the reasons they smile each day,” says Enrique. She and the other teachers work to stay flexible and to “focus on building a joyful community with our kids, and build in moments of joy,” she explains. That may mean playing games or telling jokes on Fun Fridays, or giving students a chance to socialize and say hi to their friends who they can’t see in person right now.
“Online it’s a lot different, but we still see interaction,” says Enrique. “It’s really cute to see how they interact in both English and Spanish.” She says that at the beginning of the year, she never would have guessed how her class would come together online, yet, “I’m amazed every day at the bond we’ve created.”
Enrique meets with students in small groups. It makes the day longer, she says, but it gives her a chance to connect with students individually in a way she couldn’t do in a massive group lesson. In small groups, she can focus on what each student needs and that is “super important” and has helped kids “really thrive.”
By focusing on students’ social-emotional well-being and remembering that “we don’t all learn the same way,” Enrique says kids can still do well academically in these strange times.
Enrique’s two sons attend Osborn schools in the bilingual program, and have since preschool. Enrique loves that her kids can talk to their grandparents in their native language.
Being a full-time mom and teacher, “I can relate to a lot of our families and what they’re going through,” Enrique says. “It’s a lot of hats that I’m wearing,” and it keeps her busy “balancing the needs of my kids and the needs of my students.”