Imposter Syndrome For Educators

Imposter syndrome greatly targets new teachers especially those that are systematically marginalized like people of color and women. According to the School of Education Online Programs article “How Teachers Can Overcome Imposter Syndrome” imposter syndrome doesn’t just affect educators it can affect any professional in any industry. But what exactly is imposter syndrome and what can educators do to overcome it?

Those experiencing imposter syndrome don’t believe in their successes, accomplishments, and talents and think of themselves as a fraud. Educators fear other people will realize they don’t know how to teach or don’t know what they’re doing even though they have legitimate degrees and years of experience proving their abilities. Many teachers just rule out their accomplishments as luck and ignore their true value. This self doubt holds educators back from enjoying their profession, connecting with their students, and ultimately leading to anxiety and depression.

A few ways to overcome this fear is for the educator to acknowledge their successes as truth and understanding that their fearful thoughts of being an imposter are completely false. New educators in the classroom need to understand that they may not find their teaching style immediately and just like any other talent it will take time, practice, and patience before they feel comfortable in their setting. Educators also need to remember that they don’t know everything and there’s nothing wrong with that. Teachers should freely admit when they don’t know something instead of lying to their students. Students like honesty from their teacher and they will be much more inclined to listen and learn from their teacher.

Traditional Isn’t For Everyone

In a perfect world all classes would be taught the same way and all students would learn the same way too. However, we are not in a perfect world. Many students struggle in classes because they don’t benefit from a traditional school setting unlike their peers. According to Tesha Robinson’s article, “Reimagining Alternative Education” alternative education should be seen as a tool to help support struggling students in a positive manner.

What are some ways to improve your alternative programs? For starters correctly identify the students currently struggling in their classes and find out exactly what they need to succeed. Many students need mental health support. To help provide this give these students individual attention, social support, and even providing a smaller classroom can make the student feel more comfortable in their surroundings. Also, challenge the old ways of teaching and thinking! These students are clearly struggling with traditional methods of teaching so change up your teaching plan. Construct a plan that tests the boundaries. Ask other teachers, parents, or administrators what they would like to see in the alternative program and learn how to provide that or how to address some problems they may have. Finally, build an inviting space that will attract the students. Make the students feel welcome and part of a community in that space. You can achieve this by keeping the classroom space clean and open for activities, provide vibrant colors to stimulate creativity, and post pictures of classroom projects and activities around the room to make the class feel like a family. Students in alternative programs should not be thought of as bad learners. It should be expected by now that not all students learn the same way and they don’t need to learn the same way as others. Education should be adjusted to how a student learns in order to help their academic success.

The SAMR Model

Substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition. These are the four building blocks, developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, to help educators understand how technology can be used to benefit education. According to Youki Terada’s “A Powerful Model for Understanding Good Tech Integration” using the newest or most expensive technology won’t translate to the most efficient integration. Good integration is about understanding what options you have and how you can correctly implement them into the class.

Currently, most educators understand or are already implementing substitution and augmentation from the SAMR Model into their classes. However, modification and redefinition are not being integrated because this will transform the learning experience rather than just enhance online learning, like substitution and augmentation do. But what is the SAMR model and what is its purpose? Substitution doesn’t change the learning materials but rather how they are delivered. Such as scanning traditional paper  worksheets into a pdf and posting them online or posting a recording of the lecture instead of a traditional in-person lecture. Augmentation also doesn’t change the content but it does allow the students to enhance their digital learning by taking advantage of digital tools available to them. These can be simple hyperlinks to more information about a certain topic or they can also be virtual bulletin boards to allow the students to maintain connection with their peers by posting questions and talking to each other. Modification is when a learning management system should be implemented to help the educator and the students. These systems can be Zoom, Canvas, Google Classroom, or a combination of these. Correctly implementing these systems will assist the educator in managing and organizing lesson materials, grades, and assignments. This will also help the students by allowing them to ask questions with a chat feature and not interrupt the class during a lesson. Redefinition transforms learning by creating activities that were previously difficult to do in a traditional setting. Such as visiting distant and interesting locations where students once thought they would never get to see without the help of virtual field trips. Or inviting local members of the community to teach them about events going on around them or social issues in their community that they may not be aware of. The SAMR model should be used as a toolbox to help educators and students enhance and transform their online learning.

The First Five Years

We grow as we learn especially in our younger years when we are constantly experiencing this great big world. But, just how important were those years? Were there some years that are more valuable than others? Well in Molly Wright’s TED Talk, “How every child can thrive by five” she argues that a child’s first five years are critical for their brain’s healthy development.

A healthy newborn baby’s brain will nearly double in volume by the time they turn one year old and by the time they turn five years old their brain is almost the same volume as an adult brain. This leads us to believe that during those first five years is when our brains grow bigger and stronger than any other part of our life. During this time a child needs five crucial things: connecting, talking, playing, a healthy home, and community. How can you make an impact in a child’s life? Easy! Serve and return. Meaning connect, talk, and play with them often with simple games like Peekaboo, naming games, and copycat games. These games help build strong relationships, connections, vocabulary, attention, and more! Providing these things to a child early and often will build a strong foundation for a child to build their life on. So always remember that a child’s most important time for their development is their first five years, constantly serve and return, and be sure to do it early and often.

Reading Strategies New & Old

Reading strategies have been around and utilized for a very long time and they continue to evolve. Sarah Gonser’s “4 Reading Strategies to Retire This Year (Plus 6 to Try Out!)” article points out just that. Some of these ol’ reliable reading strategies that are still being used may not be as effective as we once thought. However, there are new approaches and methods that are proven to work better than previous strategies.

Mandatory reading logs is one strategy that has been around for a long time. However, research has shown a decline in interest of students toward the selected reading because these reading logs forced kids to read instead of encouraging them to read voluntarily. Oral reading, if done correctly, is proven to improve a student’s literary understanding, but Round Robin Reading, Popcorn Reading, Combat Reading, and Popsicle Reading are not useful strategies because they tend to hurt a student’s comprehension, fluency, and pronunciation. Also, awarding kids prizes for reading is only a short-term help to get students to read. These prizes don’t create reading habits and can actually decrease the desire to read for those that already like to read.

Choral reading has shown improvements in fluency because in this strategy the teacher and the class all read a passage aloud together. This causes less stress on those kids that have difficulty reading because they don’t feel the pressure of the entire class judging their ability to read. Silent reading is one strategy that is still useful to this day, however it can be used more effectively by introducing new vocabulary that is in their book or giving a brief explanation of the plot before the students begin reading. Also, a teacher reading aloud to the class can be very beneficial to even the most uninterested kids, because this allows the teacher to better explain the idea and feeling of the story simply through their intonations and stopping briefly to ask what is going on in the story. This helps the students understand the story so much more and keeps them interested, invested, and curious.

The goal of retiring these old strategies and implementing new ones is to keep kids motivated and interested in reading. Providing students with books that they can get a real, emotional connection to will encourage them to read recreationally and tackle more challenging reads. We have to provide kids with more literature that can personally reflect them. Once we do that then they will enjoy reading and will seek out different books that can introduce them to new, unfamiliar, and wonderful worlds.

What’s a Wisdom Community?

I’ve had the pleasure of reading a book published recently: Culturally Inclusive Instructional Design; A Framework and Guide for Building Online Wisdom Communities by Charlotte Nirmalani Gunawardena, Casey Frechette and Ludmila Layne. This book details what a Wisdom Community is and how, by utilizing a framework of technology, communication, mentoring and supports, one could create their own community for the purpose of Transformative Learning! But, first: why do we wish our learning community be wise?

“Wisdom emerges from a rare mix of skills and values; humility, inclusiveness, kindness, generosity, and reflexiveness. Wise people listen before speaking and consider collective benefits before individual gains… Wise people engender transformative learning in themselves and others, while transformative learning increases wisdom.” Wisdom is the first element in the “WisCom Framework.” Next comes community (there’s a difference between a community and a group). Then: Communication, Technology, Distributed Co-Mentoring, Learner Support, Problem-Solving and the Collaborative Inquiry Cycle, and finally Transformative Learning.

When a community of people set out to transform their environment or achieve a goal, why shouldn’t they utilize a framework that serves not only as a vehicle toward success of the goal, but also contributes to self-discovery and learning? These two activities of serving toward a collaborative goal and also developing personal skills through learning are very helpful to each other. The authors of the book reference the sociocultural perspective of the Keresan Pueblo Communities of NM. This perspective relies on individuals to “give back” to the wellbeing of the whole community as a measure of wisdom. “Collective wisdom derives from each person’s contributions and shared experiences, and the social construction of knowledge leads to transformative learning.” In these times of political polarizations, may we all hope to benefit from collective wisdom and transformative learning.

Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

Who Is Eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program? A household is eligible if a member of the household meets one of the six criteria below: Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline; Approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year; Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year; Experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program. For more information on the requirements, the participating providers, and details on the three ways to apply visit,

Watch this short video on how it works: 

internet providers in NM: 

Vygotsky and Schema

Recently, I’ve been re-introduced to some the educational theoretical brainiacs of history. Let’s see…There’s Dewey, Piaget, Freire, and good ole’ Lev Vygotsky (and tons others). Vygotsky was known in education circles only after his death in 1934. He was Russian and lived through the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, which basically caused him to research and write to the political tunes of Communist Russia. He was a psychologist by trade. His research late in his life extended more in depth into the field of education. He was critical, yet admiring, of Jean Piaget who, about that same time, published the stages of cognitive development of which we still use today. You know: sensorimotor ( birth to 2), preoperational (2-6 years), concrete operational (7-11 years), and formal operational (12-adult).

Well, Vygotsky had this crazy idea that learning was heavily influenced by a child’s culture and language, and if we would use these elements as building blocks to “construct” a child’s learning through a scaffolding approach, the learner would be better for it. This theory became known as constructivism, and is still discussed and debated today. The need to prepare children for standardized tests have taken us far away from constructivism. Typically, classroom teachers are more interested in where a student is going, versus where the student has come from. Is this fair? Isn’t there some serious SENSE in using a scaffolding approach, using a child’s “funds of knowledge” to increase learning potential. What do you think?

Do you need help paying rent? Find out about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program

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The NM Department of Finance and Administration released this today!

State Announces $170M for Rental and Utility Assistance
Assistance is for households experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19

SANTA FE – The state of New Mexico will grant approximately $170M of federal aid to New Mexicans for rental and utility assistance to households experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) will administer the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) in partnership with the City of Albuquerque. New Mexicans can apply for assistance at beginning April 5, 2021.

“New Mexicans have persevered through incredible challenges this last year,” said Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. “My administration has stepped up not only to fight the health effects of the pandemic but to assist businesses and individuals at every single opportunity – and this program is more of the same, as we put the dollars at our disposal to the best possible use: helping New Mexicans.”

“We know many New Mexicans require a variety of aid as a result of the pandemic, and as we acquire more funds, we will get the money out the door as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said Finance and Administration Secretary Debbie Romero. “Our team has been working diligently on building this program from conception to launch.”

“Identifying New Mexicans in need of rental and utility assistance will take a collaborative effort, so in addition to our efforts, we hope to collaborate with nonprofits and other entities for community outreach, said Donnie Quintana, Local Government Division Director, and ERAP lead.

“This funding is an important extension of the safety net we have been providing for Albuquerque residents throughout the pandemic.” Said Mayor Tim Keller. “By teaming up with the state and local partners, we can streamline the application process and quickly get money to those in our community who need it to stay housed.”

Renters across the state are eligible for the program — except for residents of Bernalillo County, Dona Ana County, and those who live in a pueblo or tribal area. Those two counties, as well as tribal governments, will administer their own Rental Assistance Programs. Those seeking assistance should review the current FAQ at to learn more about eligibility and documentation needed for their application.

The state of New Mexico will either pay the landlord and/or the utility provider directly depending on the financial assistance request by the applicant. Landlords and utility providers are encouraged to download a W9 and submit it to DFA via as soon as possible to ensure a streamlined process for receiving payment. 

For more information visit or see attached FAQ to this press release.


The Retrospect; A Career in a Paragraph

Listen here for the podcast of this post:

As some of you know, I’ll be retiring from public education at the end of this month. I’ve spent 26 years in NM school systems. I started teaching at Onate High School in 1995, right after completing my Bachelors Degree. I taught special education, specifically something called C-level English. (This was the dark ages before inclusion setting caught on.) Most of my students were about as old as I was. Then I married the best guy and moved to Ruidoso. I spent the next 19 years there as a teacher, coach, principal, and college instructor. Those were incredibly fast and developmental years. Finally landing in Alamogordo where I spent the last of my career as a high school AP, district test coordinator (PARCC was almost the end of us all) and director of curriculum and instruction. Moving to NMSUA in January 2019 was one of the best choices I made in my career. That’s where this story ends, and the next one begins. Stay tuned for the next adventure. It will be even better.

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