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Teacher hopes to inspire love of language

Teacher Feature
By: Bridget Jones, Telegraph Correspondent
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Lisa Guardino Seventh grade English teacher Marina Village Middle School, El Dorado Hills Q: How long have you been a teacher and why did you want to get into the education field? A: I have taught for 16 years. Gosh, that makes me feel old! I don’t remember ever not wanting to be a teacher! I remember being a young girl and making my little brother be my “student.” I wanted to get into education because I enjoy working with the students and designing curriculum. It is a career that brings new and exciting challenges, and I enjoy facing them each and every day. Q: What do you enjoy about teaching your particular subject? A: I teach English 7. I have a great position. I especially love to teach writing; it is one of the central joys in my life. It is my goal that the students begin to see themselves as strong writers during the year. Because reading and writing are so connected, I also appreciate the literature in English. I like to consider how authors use their craft and to see if we cannot adapt some of their techniques into our pieces. Q: What do you enjoy about teaching at Marina Village Middle School? A: Marina Village is a remarkable place to work. I appreciate that my English department works so cohesively and is so supportive of one another. I know I can count on them for the two essential things in life ... a great lesson and chocolate! Marina teachers are some of the hardest working, most dedicated teachers there are. If you were to come on campus before or after school, you would more than likely find the math department either holding a tutorial or collaborating! Or perhaps you would find a science teacher taking a group of students off campus for a super-cool investigation (that I wouldn’t even try to understand) I am in a unique situation, as my two daughters currently attend Marina, sixth and eighth grade. So, I get both the teacher and parent perspectives, and I know what a seamless program teachers are providing. Additionally, Principal Warshaw creates a positive atmosphere for staff and students as well: a place where we all feel like our voices are heard. I love that the community comes together – that if I am ever in need of something, someone is willing to help. But most of all, I am grateful for the students. They come to school ready, eager, and willing to learn. Q: What methods and tools do you use to challenge yourself as a teacher? A: As a teacher, I really see myself as a life long learner ... So in order to continue to challenge myself and grow as a teacher, I continue to enroll in professional development classes, trainings, workshops and conferences. I read professional development books that I think may help me to find new and better practices for my classroom. This year I became involved with a Lesson Study through UC Davis. With a group of teachers in Elk Grove, Davis, and Sacramento, we developed lessons pertaining to Equity Writing Pedagogy and Multi-Modal Experiential Instruction to Engage All Students in Writing. I also am very involved with the Area 3 Writing Project. I also try to pull technology in as often as possible. Technology reaches many students who otherwise may not be engaged. The ActivBoard, Document Camera, Activotes, and Mobile Lab make everything so instantaneous, quick, and motivational. The “challenge” you mentioned .... That is always present for me with these technological things ... not so much in a good way! Luckily, we have Larry, the Tech Guy! Q: What are your hopes for the futures of your students? A: Wow. As I sit with my stack of 150 essays and I read them, and I get goose bumps. I have such brilliant, exceptional, talented students. I’m not exaggerating. I make my husband read their essays. I make my Dad read their essays. I make other teachers read their essays. I email them to other Writing Project teachers. If I thought The Telegraph would publish them, I would be sending them to the Telegraph! The students think, they write, they articulate. So ... their futures are more than bright. They are college bound. They are going to do great things! I am so very proud.