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Spring 2004
Beyond Rhetoric
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AT LOCKE HIGH, FOR EXAMPLE, Morris utilized the collaborative concepts she learned at UCLA to help push through change in the biology curriculum. She drew strength from four other TEP graduates and a field adviser who helped make the case that students deserved a full lab experience. "You can't do this alone," she says.

Like Morris, other Teacher Education Program graduates put into practice the principles they learned at UCLA.

At Moffett Elementary School in Lennox, fifth-grade teacher Ryan Williams '98, M.Ed. '01 moves beyond classroom instruction and dives into community issues as adviser to the student government's community committee. UCLA encourages community involvement as a way to reach kids outside the classroom, and Williams harnesses students' desire to improve their neighborhoods by organizing cleanups and visits to a local homeless-services center.

"The whole idea is to make kids realize that they can be agents of change in the community," he says. "They learn an important lesson — that they're in control of their community . . . and they can see change occurring because of their actions."

A little more than eight miles away at Jordan High School in Watts, Felipe Barragan M.Ed. '99 pushed to make English-as-a-second-language and history materials more culturally relevant to his students, many of whom are Spanish-speaking immigrants or children of immigrants. "You can read Steinbeck, and you can also read a book by Tomás Rivera," Barragan says. "Both of them are going to provide ability and skills in reading and writing, but we just needed to offer more that would engage students."

In the highly diverse universe of urban Los Angeles, teaching outside of cultural context is counterproductive, say Teacher Education Program administrators, graduates and teachers-in-training. "Isn't the essence of teaching knowing your students?" asks first-year education graduate student Bill MacDonald.

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