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Where in the World is Kagan

Outstanding Teacher of the Year in Belize

Andrea Guerra
Teacher, Santa Elena Primary School

Every teacher’s experience is unique and every classroom is different, but what makes it effective is having your heart filled with love and passion for each individual child entrusted to you in your care. A few years ago I was blessed to have three wonderful ladies be a part of my life, Dr. Jennifer Morrow, Mrs. Abigail Wade, and Mrs. Deborah Reneau. These ladies’ inspiration and mentoring transformed my teaching profession in a dynamic and impactful way. They taught me to focus on developing students to be lifelong learners and that education is for life. They made me understand that in education, we must be round Earth thinkers, always seeking out the latest educational trends and journeying to the new frontier. One of their main focus was the “paradigm shift” that is taking place in education. We are in an era where students no longer “sit and get” but need to be engaged. Their goal was for us to be true practitioners of the theory of cooperative learning. That’s where my journey began! I learned that the brain is emotional—“no emotions, no learning.” The most effective learning occurs when emotion is involved and when the subject matter is meaningful to the learner. This was the foundation for my further exploration into teacher/leadership development.

Kagan Structures have truly transformed my classroom and the way I teach.

With that challenge and training came Dr. Spencer Kagan’s Cooperative Learning approach. This was my true “ah ha” moment. This was the change that I needed for me and my students. Kagan Structures have truly transformed my classroom and the way I teach. I use them every day in my classroom. I realized that they create a positive environment that enhances learning and the desire to learn. My students are engaged and working. I have been able to develop lessons that are student-level appropriate, diverse for all intelligences, as well as brain compatible. Along with keeping the students engaged, they also help them to build high self-esteem, responsibility, mutual respect, team work, value for each other’s opinion, and accountability. The structures provide students with the opportunity to develop and enhance their thinking skills, character, and leadership skills. With this in place, I seldom have behavioral problems or any other forms of distraction.

With Kagan Structures in place, I seldom have behavioral problems or any other forms of distraction.

From my perspective as a teacher, the change was dynamic, easy, and wonderful. From my students’ point of view, the change gave the classroom life—they were engaged! They developed a liking for school, for their classmates, and even for themselves. They seldom missed classes. Thanks to these people in my life, I became a success—a teacher who is still determined to look in the horizon for any new ideas, strategies, and techniques that will make learning interesting and fun for my students. You all assisted me in becoming the Outstanding Teacher of the Year in Belize. Thank you all!

Andrea Guerra
Santa Elena Primary School
Belize, Central America