This week’s Feature a Teacher is Brianna Cairns, one of our Spanish Teachers.
How long have you been at Regina Dominican?
This is my 6th year teaching full-time at Regina Dominican. I also did my Student Teaching at Regina in the Spring of 2012 so I was thrilled to be offered a position here.
What have you found most rewarding during your time at Regina?
Working with the girls has been the most rewarding experience. I know it’s cliché but they make this job worth it. I love getting to know them over the course of their 4 years at Regina and watching them grow and mature. They surprise me every day with how caring, funny, and talented they all are.
How does Regina Dominican’s all-girls community impact your teaching?
I am an alumna of an all-girls school so I know how much girls can develop in this environment. I remember how close I was with my teachers in high school so I try to build strong relationships with the girls so that they trust me enough to participate without fear in class and come to me for extra help if they need it. I also use the benefit of an all-girls community to develop units and lessons that interest the girls – whether we are practicing Spanish by talking about favorite celebrities and movies or learning about women’s roles in society.
What are you looking forward to most in the 2017-2018 school year?
I have developed some new units for my Intermediate Spanish and Spanish Composition and Conversation classes so I am really looking forward to teaching those units for the first time and seeing how they go.
The identity tapestry on the third floor is so unique and beautiful! Can you tell me about what this project entailed? Did the students enjoy participating? Is this a project you do every year?
¡Gracias! The identity tapestry was the culminating project for a unit in Intermediate Spanish about personal and cultural identity. Throughout the unit, the girls explored the ideas of culture, language, and identity and how these three ideas influence each other. For the identity tapestry, each student generated approximately 11 words/phrases in Spanish about different aspects of her identity including cultural groups, descriptive words, cultural perspectives, cultural products, cultural practices, and languages spoken. We used these words to create the plaques. Each student then chose a color of embroidery thread and wrapped their embroidery thread around each word with which she associated, starting at the left of the piece and moving to the right. When she reached the right side, she let the remainder of her string hang from the last plaque. When we finished, each student reflected on her own identity and her experiences throughout the unit and project. This is the first time that I have done this project with a class but they really enjoyed making it and were proud of the final tapestry so I will definitely do this project again in the future.
Your classes visited the National Museum of Mexican Art this week, what were some of your favorite “take-a ways” learned by you and the students?
My Spanish Composition and Conversation class visited the Día de los Muertos exhibit at the National Museum of Mexican Art with Sra. Duran’s AP Spanish IV and Spanish V Honors classes. The girls thought that it was really cool to see actual altars instead of just reading about them and looking at pictures. They are currently working on a comparison paper to compare their favorite traditional altar with their favorite contemporary altar. They also really enjoyed seeing (and buying) the sugar skulls! Overall, it was a great experience because it brought the tradition to life for them.
Not only are you one of Regina’s best language teachers, you are also Regina Dominican’s Student Council Co-Moderator and Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica Moderator, what do you enjoy most about these positions? Why do you feel it’s important to work with the students out of the classroom?
I really love being Student Council Co-Moderator and Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica Moderator because both are other ways to help make Regina Dominican the best it can be. When I was doing my Student Teaching at Regina, I had the opportunity to help with Student Council and was impressed with how much the Student Council officers and reps did for the school and how much spirit and fun their activities generated. I jumped at the chance to co-moderate with Mrs. Stenson when the co-moderator position opened because Regina’s Student Council makes such difference with everything they do, both in the school through events and outside of the school through fundraising. I also get to work with the girls and get to know them in a different way than I would in class. With the Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica, it has been my goal not just to recognize academic achievements in the study of the Spanish language but also to use the organization to provide services to other students in our building by setting up the SHH members as peer tutors. I think that working with students outside of the classroom is important because gives me a way to get to know them better and to work with them as a team to make Regina Dominican the school that they want it to be so that they love their four years here.