Q&A with the Experts – Christian Moreno – EastLake Middle School
How many years have you worked in education?
I am currently in my sixth year of teaching.
How many years with the Sweetwater District?
I have spent my entire career teaching in the SUHSD. It’s amazing to teach in the district I went to school in.
What subject area do you teach?
I teach 7th grade Dual Language World Cultures and English Language World Cultures.
What inspired you to pursue a career in education?
Growing up in National City to immigrant parents, I was taught the way out of a life of struggle was education. In a way, I have always been teaching; teaching my parents how to be American, how to be part of a country they were not born in. I also had to teach myself to adapt to being a person between two worlds: that of being American by birth and Mexican by culture. I was lucky enough to be guided by amazing teachers that led by example and taught me that I was more than capable to not only make it, but surpass expectations. Teachers from the National School District like Ms. Casillas, Ms. Svenson and teachers from Sweetwater like Mrs. Hall, Mr. Opina, Mrs. McNally and Mrs. Wadell. Now I feel as if I have unlocked this golden ticket on how to get students to be successful and I want to pay it forward.
What inspires you daily to do your best?
My students inspire me to do my best. They are so smart and they do not even know it. I engage my students on a daily basis by challenging them to do their best. I push them to do more than they think they can do by digging into their prior knowledge and skills and prove to them that they already know how to do something, but then apply it to our academics. The students bring me energy, motivation, inspiration and hope.
Please share your experience in teaching during a pandemic?
I would not be truthful if I did not say this has been the most stressful teaching experience of my career. I am blessed with the curriculum that was developed for the district by Ms. Aida Jarrett, but the planning and expectations that I have for myself and my students requires me to do a lot. I have to be engaging to students so they are motivated to contribute to class and complete their assignments. On a personal level, I have to balance being a parent of two children who need their father to help them with distance learning themselves, as well as a wife who is also working from home.
What have you learned most during this season of teaching?
During this teaching season I have learned how much I enjoy teaching. I work extremely hard to motivate my students and in turn they work hard in my class and for themselves. I am still able to connect with my students, though screens, and show them how much I appreciate them. Connecting with them via distance learning is still possible!
How have you adapted to distance learning?
I have had to adapt my very hands on teaching to creating assignments that require more student independence. My checks for understanding have changed to “thumbs up” in chats to “raising your hand” in TEAMS to typing “I understand.” In reality, I am teaching the students a more abbreviated version of our class with the most energy I can possibly give from my living room.
What advice would you give parents on how best to support their students?
I would encourage parents to ask their children daily what they are learning and how. Asking them what they are learning will allow them to put into words what they are learning, solidifying what it is they are learning. If you can teach it, you know it. Students should be teaching their parents what they themselves are learning in class.
What unique ways have you tried to engage with your students while teaching online?
I like to engage students by showing them how excited I am to see them and constantly telling them. In this difficult time where teachers are working the most they have ever worked, I like to tell my students that all the work that I do is worth it when I get to be in class with them. It’s not lip service, it’s the truth.
Any fun hobbies or interests you’d like to share?
Cycling has become a much needed stress reliever. I ride with some awesome people from the community of Chula Vista. My own kids have reached the age where they are riding two wheelers and it’s currently the greatest thing ever.