August 17, 2015
Every month in our UCCI newsletter, we feature one of the extraordinary educators we have worked with at the UCCI Institutes and in the UCCI Teacher Exchange. We started this feature so that we could have a way of publicly showcasing how creative, innovative, and smart California teachers are. We archive every issue of the Teacher Spotlight here, on the UCCI website, at our Teacher Spotlight page.
This month the spotlight is on Rebecca Guerrero, History Teacher, Rancho Cucamonga High School
We spoke with Rebecca about her experiences as a teacher, her involvement with the UCCI programs and her love of all things Disney!
How long have you been teaching, and how did you decide to become a teacher?
This is my 14th year of teaching, and my 13th at Rancho Cucamonga High School. Before that, I actually taught a year of pre-kindergarten! When I was younger I wanted to be anything but a teacher. Although my mom was an amazing middle school teacher, I wanted nothing to do with the "family trade." However, as I got older, I realized that education is where I belong--it is part of who I am and who I was made to be. I feel completely blessed to get to work every day at a place I love and with students and staff I enjoy spending time with.
What was your background before becoming a teacher?
Before entering the classroom, I held a variety of jobs, mostly in the customer service industry. I've worked as a cast member at Disneyland, a barista at Starbucks, and as a service coordinator for my church. All of these experiences have shaped how I handle the conflicts that arise while teaching. I tend to approach most interactions with students and parents like I would an interaction with a customer. That approach has probably helped me to keep a smile on my face, and in some cases diffuse, some tense situations.
Previous to your UCCI Institute participation, had you done any integration of CTE and academics?
I think most teachers want to make their lessons as rigorous and relevant as possible, so real-world application is something that every teacher strives for whenever they can. But I had never done anything as authentic and powerful at the integration that comes from classes created at the UCCI Institutes, and that’s why I love what UCCI has done for education in California!
You have participated in a lot of UCCI Institutes, as a participant, facilitator and content advisor. Please tell us a bit about your experience with the Institutes.
My very first UCCI Institute was in the summer of 2012 and I had no idea what I was getting into! After the initial shock of processing that we were going to write a course right then and there to integrate traditional academic content with real-world CTE content, I got super excited about what I was getting to be a part of! Our facilitators and team members were amazing, and after a few post institute revisions the US History and Public Health Course was approved. Since that time I have been totally stoked about what UCCI is doing and participate whenever I can. I think I have participated in 8 institutes, serving as a facilitator, content advisor and participant because I just love the process and what it represents. I am super excited to participate in my first UCCI Teacher Exchange next month for the very class that came out of my first institute, US History and Public Health. Overall, I find the work at the UCCI Institutes to be among the most challenging and rewarding work I have the opportunity to participate in. It definitely has made me grow as an educator is so many ways and challenges me to be more intentional in not only what I teach but how I teach.
What are some of your interests outside of teaching?
So I am a complete Disney geek. In a few days I will attend the D23 expo (it’s like Comic-Con for all things Disney). Disneyland and Walt Disney World are among my favorite vacation spots and next year we plan to go on a Disney cruise. I love planning vacations almost as much as I love taking them, and as a result in my free time I help plan Disney vacations for other people, free of charge.
As a History Teacher, do you have any favorite resources you’d like to share with other educators, and why?
I think it is super important for students to read current events so they can see the connections between history and the way things are in the world now. While a lot of news content can be obtained online, many newspapers (like the LA Times) and news magazines offer free or reduced subscriptions for teachers; if you are not taking advantage of these programs you are missing out!
Although not directly related to history, I highly recommend Remind. This is a great way to provide information to students and parents via a mobile app or online with text messages sent to their phones.
The website teachinghistory.org is a treasure trove of information and ideas for history teachers and a lot of great information can be found on many of our government websites like the National Archives and Smithsonian pages. These are great (and probably underutilized) resources to find primary source documents.