College Board presenters Douglas Waugh, David Jones, and Ana Galindo Shapiro.
This fall we were honored to have College Board, a California GEAR UP strategic partner, provide demonstration lessons at all of our Principal and Leadership Team events that took place across the state. These events focus on the use of our SSAR (school self assessment rubric) to look at school-wide perceptions and provides opportunities to learn about successes and challenges from other school teams. With the looming implementation of Common Core State Standards, schools have requested additional information and support, to which we responded with the College Board CCSS Demonstration Lesson.
One of the presenters, Ana Galindo Shapiro, was kind enough to sit down with us and talk about why she believes in this work so much.
How did you start working with schools and why are you passionate about it?
I started working with the College Board as an AP US History teacher. I remember attending my first AP Summer Institute, during which we participated in a Socratic Seminar using the Board’s recently revised Equity and Access Statement. I was working with students who broke the mold of what an AP student “looks like” for some. Many were English Learners, read below grade level, or were the first in their families to have their sights set on college- but they were so dedicated to challenging themselves. I knew that I was doing important work by believing in my students and supporting them through really rigorous learning experiences. I’m still passionate about that work today; I just have a different audience!
What do you think the most important thing teachers can be collaborating on right now to prepare for the implementation of common core and associated assessments?
I think teachers have an opportunity through the Common Core to teach students to think critically and creatively, something our state assessments have perhaps geared us away from in the past decade. It is really powerful to think that we’ll have assessments that actually honor students building solid arguments, explaining their reasoning, and focusing on depth over a breadth of topics is really exciting.
What was your experience in middle school like and how were you influenced to go to college?
I was an average student in middle school and high school. My father is an educator, and college was not really optional for me; it was a question of where to go (which was really exciting for both of us to explore). I didn’t really find my thrill of learning until college, when I think I was challenged for the first time. I loved being learning history in a historical place, surrounded by really curious young people.
What do you think are some of the most important factors that will contribute to preparation for and student success in college?
I know that student peer influence is really strong for student success in college. Just like in middle and high school, it is really important for kids to feel connected to their peers and the adults around them. I’ve been reading a lot about growth mindsets and “grit” and how predictive they are to student success, more so than academic or socio-economic factors. That’s inspiring because these are things schools can help to cultivate in young people.
What are some of the most effective ways to create a college-going culture in our school community?
Young people need to “see” themselves going to college. Experiences like college trips, hosted by students who have similar backgrounds, or having tutors on campus that students can relate to is helpful. Adults need to also “see” their students as college bound. This goes beyond speaking it, it requires teachers to understand that there’s a lot of support and sometimes tough love that kids need to make it into and through college. Parents need to “see” their students heading to college by being exposed to college processes and encouraging their children to stick to it when things get difficult.
Tell us about some of the College Board initiatives you are most proud of.
I am most proud of SpringBoard, because ours is a program explicitly designed to support all teachers and students in getting ready for college.
When did you first start working with GEAR UP and why is the work important?
I first started working with GEAR UP as a high school principal. Two of our graduating cohorts were supported since 6th grade with additional staff, materials, and experiences. All students should benefit from these additional resources, designed to put them on a solid path to college. Even though two classes had the direct benefit from GEAR UP, the entire school culture was shaped by work.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I love being able to work with educators across school, district, and state lines to learn from their challenges and insights.
Anything else you would like to share with the GEAR UP Community?
I really enjoyed our time together and hope we’ll see each other again soon!