Courtesy of Kristina Flores
This year, former SCHS Social Science teacher Kristina Flores transferred to the district office as an English Language Development Teacher On Special Assignment. Flores said she collaborates with teachers who are working toward developing students’ communication skills in order to take on standard coursework at school.
Flores has been with Santa Clara Unified School District since 2001, teaching at various schools, such as at Wilcox High School, before SCHS.
“I was in the social science department so what I taught varied year to year, but most of the time I taught World History,” Flores said. “I taught everything – US History, Ethnic Studies, EL classes, SDAIE classes and psychology.”
Flores currently works for the English Language Learner program as an ELD TOSA, coordinating the program and researching efficient practices for students in order to fulfill social and academic needs essential to meeting grade-level English standards. She is part of the program to indirectly provide guidance for English Learners who “are at a disadvantage accessing curriculum across the subjects.”
Rather than working directly with students, Flores holds meetings for the teachers who educate them. She manages a Google Classroom online where teachers can retrieve helpful resources.
“I attend ELL department meetings at school sites and when the ELL Master Plan is completed by June, I will be able to offer professional development to train teachers on how to best instruct ELL students,” Flores said.
According to Flores, the ELL program strongly encourages students to develop cross-cultural proficiency in order to adapt to new learning environments and learn more about their peers. English Learners who are part of the curriculum are a diverse group of individuals representing over 50 languages. The program welcomes immigrants, newcomers and other students who are not yet fluent in English.
According to Flores, ELL students have the double duty of learning English and taking on coursework at school, while ELL teachers have to cover reading, writing, speaking and active listening.
“Specific training is needed to support teachers in this endeavor,” Flores said. “I have a huge learning curve.”
Flores said the most difficult part of her job is that the position is new to both her and the district. Although the job poses challenges, she still finds enjoyment in helping others and working with teachers to fulfill students’ academic needs to succeed.
For Flores, being a TOSA is an exciting opportunity to improve leadership and communication skills as an academic coach.
“Working with this population of students of English Learners is a personal passion of mine,” Flores said. “It’s been my passion my entire career.”