BPP 2: Organization and Collaboration for Bilingual Teachers

In today’s episode, Janet talks to  Juliana Shoumbert, a bilingual Kindergarten teacher from Texas about some organization and collaboration ideas for bilingual teachers.

Podcast: Download


Janet: You are listening to the Bilingual Profe podcast, episode number two. In today’s episode, we’ll talk about organization and collaboration ideas with a bilingual kindergarten teacher from Texas. So stay tuned. The Bilingual Profe podcast is for busy bilingual teachers looking to improve their teaching practices and classroom. If you are a bilingual, Spanish immersion, or dual language teacher, then this is the podcast for you. We’ll talk tips, ideas, and best practices for your bilingual classroom. Are you one of us? Come join the conversation at bilingualprofe.com. What’s up bilingual profes? This is Janet Jimenez. Thanks for tuning in to this episode of the podcast, where we love to feature awesome bilingual teachers that have many tips and ideas to share. This is our first interview on the podcast, and I’m honored to talk to an amazing teacher, Juliana Schaumburg, a bilingual kindergarten teacher from Texas. Let’s get right into the interview. Here we go! Let’s welcome Juliana Shoumbert to the Bilingual Profe podcast! Thanks for coming on to the show.
Juliana: Thank you for inviting me.
Janet: So can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you’ve been teaching?
Juliana: Yes! Well, like you said, my name is Juliana Shoumbert. I recently got married. So I’m getting used to the last name.
Janet: Yes, congratulations.
Juliana: Thank you! I have been teaching for seven years. I’m currently teaching kindergarten language one way. And I teach in Texas. I am also the founder of KinderBilingue and bilingual marketplace.
Janet: Oh, great. So you are busy. In a one way program you said, in kindergarten?
Juliana: Yes.
Janet: What kind of student population, is that mostly then non Spanish speakers? Or is it a mixture of both?
Juliana: You know what, it’s actually the opposite. Everybody, it’s almost like being in the bilingual early exit or late exit program. Everybody in my classroom speaks Spanish.
Janet: Oh, okay.
Juliana: It feels like teaching in what I was teaching, which as bilingual exit program.
Janet: Okay, perfect. So everyone comes in knowing Spanish or some sort of Spanish, and then you go from there?
Juliana: Yes. And there’s a few students, maybe one or two that speak only English at home, but they understand Spanish because they speak Spanish with their grandparents or their relatives. But as far as the change that I’ve noticed, is more instruction side. So we’re following the Gomez and Gomez dual language program. And this is where we teach three days in Spanish, and then two days in English. But the subject areas are taught in a specific language.
Janet: Okay, so the language is for example, math stays the same the entire school year?
Juliana: Yes. So math is always in English.
Janet: Okay. And is language arts in Spanish?
Juliana: Yes. And then social studies and science in Spanish. So really the only subject that is taught in English is math.
Janet: Okay, cool. And is this in your school district, is it a k-5, or k-6 program, or does it go all the way through high school?
Juliana: It’s k-5, and they’re implementing it in my district. Every year it’s a new grade level.
Janet: Perfect. So you kind of give us a glimpse of what your daily schedule looks like. In the classroom, do you have as a teacher any support, like a paraprofessional or an assistant? Or is it just you with your class.
Juliana: It’s just me. Just me, and I’m the only bilingual teacher in my team. So there’s three of us. And there’s three kindergarten teachers, and none of us have aides or assistant.
Janet: Okay. So you said you’ve been teaching, I think you said seven years, is that right? What are some tips that you could give to other bilingual teachers? Something that’s worked well for you or anything specific?
Juliana: Get a hard drive and put all [inaudible 00:04:54] things that you can reuse. And being organized in your hard drive by putting the resources that you use per week, because that’s gonna help you. So the tips for a new teacher. One thing that really helped me was creating a diary so that the following year I would know what was going on in December or in March. And it was really hard to find the time to write on my diary about my day. So what I did was I started doing voice notes on my way to school or on my way home. And I would just say what happened that day. So if we had a winter party, how was it organized? Or Thanksgiving feast. Or Valentine’s Day. Or the hundredth day of school. Or the first day of school, which is always so hectic.
Janet: Oh yeah.
Juliana: And so I would, the following year I would just listen to that. And it’s almost like being your own assistant.
Janet: Yeah, that’s a great idea because you forget if you teach like I taught, have taught first grade for many years, and I get to the following year, and I’d be like, oh what? You know, I know we’re doing classroom expectations and rules. But I won’t exactly remember every detail. So that’s a great idea.
Juliana: Yeah, and another idea is I just started doing this this year. Now that we have Google drive, just doing it in Google drive, putting it in a cloud based format so that if you ever lose your hard drive or wherever you had your things, you could always look it up with your email. And so I’m putting all the weeks. Week one through 37. And I’m just putting the things that I use or you know, again, if it’s like the winter party. I have notes over there for that week. So that next year I can just look at it and see what I did.
Janet: You’re definitely setting yourself up for success like that because you’ll be able to find it and then less prep time next year.
Juliana: Yes! Less prep time, and yes. And I guess one more tip is the … Because as a new teacher they’re gonna send you to a lot of trainings. Just keep a substitute, like a substitute schedule ready because you’re gonna be out of the classroom, even if you don’t want to. So that takes less prep time. And I have something on bilingual marketplace. I think it’s called five essential tips for new teachers. And I have the format, Google format, Google docs. And you can just make your own copy. And it’s a [inaudible 00:07:44], you know, like hey welcome to my classroom! This is what I teach. This is when we go to the computer lab. Recess.
Janet: Awesome, you’ll have to send me the link so we can make sure the listeners can find that.
Juliana: Yes.
Janet: What has been your biggest struggle as a bilingual teacher?
Juliana: Well, the first one has to be finding resources in Spanish.
Janet: Yeah. That’s a big struggle.
Juliana: Yes. And I feel like there’s more and more teachers that are creating their own materials and sharing it. And that really is a time saving, that’s amazing. Because it’s exactly what you need. You’re like, oh, I don’t have to recreate it. This will take me two hours. Or I just don’t have the time to do it. And then they will too. To get this.
Janet: I think [inaudible 00:08:37] teachers have so little prep time with all the meetings and the this meeting, who knows? I feel like there’s a meeting every day practically.
Juliana: Yes, that’s right. Like you want to create it, but sometimes you just don’t have the time because you hae to do a thousand other things that need to be done now.
Janet: Yeah, exactly. That’s what … So when I started teaching, well I guess teachers by teachers and other resources probably existed, but I feel like I spent so much time creating new resources and spending hours on things when for a dollar or two I could have saved myself a bunch of time and then been able to reuse that resource.
Juliana: Yes. Yeah, exactly. Because once you get it, you are able to use it again. You know, and you can use it in different ways. So that was a struggle at first. I feel like it’s getting better. But my other struggle this ray is creating work stations for my classroom, for my kids.
Janet: Okay. Different centers within … Is it language arts or for math or for both?
Juliana: It’s more for language arts, but I want something that’s thematic, that incorporates all the subject areas. But that it follows the standards that I have to teach per week. And you know, I think it’s finding a system that works for my classroom because every year, you get new kids. And it’s different.
Janet: Definitely. Some centers that worked great this year or even this month might not work next month or next year depending on your group of students.
Juliana: Yes. And with the standards changing. In Texas we teach the TEKS or some people call it TEAKS. The Texas Essential Skills, I forget the last …
Janet: Knowledge?
Juliana: Yes. And so when my principal comes I, I want them to see what skill … I want them to … I don’t know. In my mind, I want to have like a perfect classroom. You know, you go in, and then the kids are working independently. No [inaudible 00:11:03]. We’re all like I’m in my small group doing [inaudible 00:11:11] lesson.
Janet: Yeah, I think definitely in kindergarten it’s a struggle. You know, it takes weeks, months, to get to the point where they can work independently.
Juliana: Yes. And that’s another thing I think in kindergarten, the first months of school you expect your kids to do so much. And then this is just their start. They need time to learn it. You know, they need time to get used to the classroom routines and [inaudible 00:11:40]. It’s not a struggle, it’s just a challenge. And now I’m working towards creating a system that works. But I see it as a challenge, not a struggle.
Janet: And then, do you have, when you do centers, do you have a certain number of centers at a time in your classroom, or …
Juliana: I’ve tried many things. I’ve tried like a wheel, where there’s different colors. And then I, like the kids are in their groups by skill in reading, and then in month is another group. And then I’ve tried, like they just … They set up the table and then I have different centers for them where I pair them up. High, medium, and then medium-low. And I’ve just tried many things, but I feel like it’s not working …
Janet: Yeah, I mean that’s the thing as a teacher. It’s never perfect. You just kind of explore and find which ways work best for right now, and when things aren’t working, you just kind of pivot and do something else, and hope that the next thing works at least for a few weeks or a month.
Juliana: Yes. Yeah, I guess being flexible and trying new things. And letting the kids explore and see what works and see what things you can modify here and there.
Janet: And does your school have a specific curriculum? Or do you follow something like reader’s workshop, writer’s workshop or daily five? Or is it pretty flexible?
Juliana: It’s pretty flexible, but yes. This is my first year doing guided reading.
Janet: Okay.
Juliana: And, well with the dual language there’s a lot of components that are [inaudible 00:13:34] to the day. Like besides the language arts instruction, you have to do centers for each … So depending on the language of the day, you create centers. So even though math is not taught in Spanish, if it’s a Spanish day, then you need to have a center that’s math in Spanish.
Janet: Interesting, I’ve never taught in … I’ve always taught where it’s everything is in Spanish except for like social studies, science, and health. So I guess [inaudible 00:14:09] everything or most things in both languages.
Juliana: Yeah. So you have to … And your classroom has to be … That’s why you see red and white, I mean not red and white. Red and blue. So red is in Spanish, and then blue is in English. And then your classroom has to be basically red and blue. There’s …
Janet: Like you said earlier, that’s going with that Gomez and Gomez model, correct?
Juliana: Yes. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Janet: Perfect. So are there any, do you have any favorite apps or websites or resources that you would recommend to other bilingual and dual language teachers?
Juliana: Yeah, so you know, I did a gingerbread exchange program, which was amazing. Where all my kids created their gingerbread man, and then we sent it to a different state, a different classroom. And all of this was through Facebook. So I connected with a lot of kindergarten teachers through Facebook. So that’s my favorite resource. Because you can actually … That’s how you connect with other teachers. So if you are a kindergarten bilingual or dual language teacher, I created a group that now have over I think it’s 475 teachers. It’s amazing because we just bounce ideas off each other. And we’re also there for emotional support. If you’re feeling overwhelmed. Or maybe you need tips on, hey, my observation is next week. What should I do for a read aloud? Like, we just talk about everything.
Janet: Yeah, that’s great. I think I am actually a member of that group, and it is helpful to see that people can just ask questions, and get answers from like people who are in similar positions.
Juliana: Yes.
Janet: Like 10 years ago, when I started teaching, I felt very alone, and didn’t … I could ask the teacher next to me, but she was a new teacher as well and didn’t have that kind of community and the internet and social media didn’t exist.
Juliana: Yes! And you also, you know you might be the only bilingual teacher in your grade level. Like me. So I feel like I have all these teammates that can help me. And so the group on Facebook is kinder bilingual dual teachers, or KB club. So that’s the whole name.
Janet: I’ll put a link to it in the show notes so people can find that and join.
Juliana: Yes! And the other resource is we talked about not recreating the wheel, and you as a new teacher, you have already a lot of things to do. So if you need things specific for like a subject area of … You can go to bilingual marketplace and find the resources there.
Janet: Yeah.
Juliana: We have over 600 activities. And really the purpose of bilingual marketplace is to create a community of bilingual teachers. Something that’s specific for dual language.
Janet: Perfect. I definitely have visited the site, and there’s lots of wonderful resources available. And quality resources that can save bilingual teachers time and you know, when there’s so many things to do in the day. And often times in multiple languages, what are some ways … You did talk about your Facebook group. Are there any other ways that you recommend to other teachers to collaborate or connect with other bilingual teachers?
Juliana: I think Facebook is great. Because it’s instant. You can ask a question. There’s a lot of people that can answer. I think it’s very immediate and instant. Another one is Instagram. But I would advise new teachers to not get overwhelmed by what they see on Instagram. Because this happens to me. You see it, and it’s like this amazing classroom, and you’re like, oh my gosh! My classroom doesn’t look like that! And then just … You can use it as hey, I wonder how she did that. Let me send her a message. Usually, the teachers that are posting, you know, they’re sharing their classrooms. They’re sharing ideas. So you can use it to ask, but don’t get overwhelmed by what you see there.
Janet: Yeah, I think Instagram and Pinterest are ones that you see how many great ideas. And then you’re like, oh dear, my classroom does not look like this Pinterest classroom. But you know, I think that often on Instagram and Pinterest you can see the highlight reel, and not the behind the scenes.
Juliana: Yes, yes.
Janet: The mess, or you know. A first grade teacher, it’s inevitable throughout the day that there’s things thrown around. And there’s … Nothing’s really perfect when you’re working with 20 or 25 six year olds, so …
Juliana: Yes! Yeah, so basically it’s like in a magazine. You see like beautiful pictures, but yeah, you don’t see the other side that’s the every day. So always remember that when you’re on Pinterest or Instagram.
Janet: Perfect! Let’s see. Did you have any advice for any brand new bilingual teachers or teachers that are considering becoming bilingual teachers? Like they may speak Spanish and they’re getting their elementary ed license?
Juliana: Yes. Volunteer at a local elementary. That’s actually how I got my job as a bilingual assistant for four years while going to college. So I was a bilingual aide. And you’re a bilingual aide, you get to work with all grade levels. So you start seeing, hey, I like this grade level. You know, I like upper grades. I like lower grades. And you can start preparing your own material when you’re already at school, and you see what teachers need, and you see what … And you get to see if you really like it or not. Because teaching a lot of … There’s misconceptions about teaching in general. You know, that it’s easy. Or that, oh, you know [inaudible 00:21:07]
Janet: Yeah, we get so much vacation. But yeah, anything who thinks that should come visit, hang out in a kindergarten class for a week.
Juliana: Yes! Come hang out with me. And I’m doing centers for January right now. You know, I’m always thinking about my classroom and my students. And I’m always keeping in contact with the parents. But if you enjoy … That’s the way that you are going to see if you like it or not. So volunteering, and also Instagram, Facebook, for belonging to different groups. And there’s a bilingual … There’s so many groups on Facebook that you can belong to. You can probably find thinking about teaching group. You know?
Janet: Oh, yeah. A little bit of everything out there available. So yeah, that’s a great idea. I started out before teaching as well as an assistant, as a paraprofessional. Not in a bilingual program, but just in a middle school. Kind of, you know, out of college and needed a job, and that’s what I found, and then after that I decided to get my teaching degree and all that. So yeah, I feel like that was … That’s a great advice if you’re kind of on the fence of whether you’d like it or not. It’s always good to volunteer or see if you want a job as a … If there’s any job as assistants or aide, professionals available.
Juliana: What other advice, I’d say, yeah, before you say, hey I want to be a teacher! Just for example, this podcast is amazing because I feel like there’s not a lot of information about what we do every day. And so listening to this podcast is amazing.
Janet: Yeah, that’s definitely why I wanted to start it. I felt like there was no one really in this area. There’s lots of bilingual, like you said on Facebook and Instagram. But I don’t feel like there’s any, an ongoing conversation of bilingual educators or immersion educators that you know, that people can join and listen to and feel connected. Because as you said, you’re the only person, and you don’t really have someone that you can bounce ideas off of, or get support or understand that yeah, like teaching isn’t perfect every day, and everyone’s going through the same struggles you are.
Juliana: Yes, yeah. And you know, I have been teaching for seven years, and I’m still learning. Like you never stop learning. That’s one thing. Like your mind … Like you have to realize that even though you might be done with college, you’re never really done. You’re always learning.
Janet: Oh, yeah. Definitely always learning, and then I feel like with all the changes in curriculum all the time in schools or in standards, and you know, we always are changing constantly, education with the standards, the curriculum, and even the technology has changed so much. Continues to evolve.
Juliana: Yep. That’s right. Like my kids went to the library two weeks ago, and they were learning how to code. I mean, it was amazing.
Janet: Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, thank you so much, Juliana, for coming on to the podcast today. Where can our listeners connect with you online?
Juliana: Well, if you want to belong the to Kinder Bilingue Facebook Group that we have, I’ll send you the link. But it’s kinder bilingual dual teachers, bilingue club in parentheses on Facebook. And I’m always there. So I can … But also Kinder Bilingue, there’s a website. I have all the social media outlets. And on bilingual marketplace, so you can see what all these amazing teachers have created already that can help you.
Janet: All right. Thank you very much!
Juliana: Thank you!
Janet: Thanks for tuning in. If you are a busy Bilingual Profe, I’d love to hear from you. Head over to bilingualprofe.com to connect with other bilingual educators just like you. See you next time! Buh bye!

Links and Resources Mentioned on Today’s Show: 

Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKs)
Bilingual Marketplace
Sub Plan Juliana Referenced in Podcast
Juliana’s Facebook Group

Enjoy the podcast! We hope it gives you some ideas for your Bilingual classroom.

Feeling stressed? Want instant access to all to over 300 resources in Spanish for Pre-K through 2nd grade bilingual and Spanish immersion teachers for less than $1/day? Join Profe Club. Use code ‘podcast’ at checkout to get a 25% discount. 

Connect with Janet on Social Media!!