Personalized homework, the ‘secret’ of the best primary school teacher: “Each student reinforces only what goes wrong”

  • Luis Gutiérrez has been chosen the best primary school teacher in the Educa Abanca 2022 awards

  • “If you hook a student, then you can take them wherever you want: you teach them to divide, multiply, roots…”

  • “I always say that you have to go as far as the child reaches. If the child is seven, you have to shoot up to seven, and if it is 10, up to 10. Get the maximum out of each child as far as they can go”

Luis Gutiérrez (León, 1976) has spent his entire life in the same corridors and the same classrooms at the Maristas school in San José de León. There he began as a student in what was then toddlers and there he continues as a fifth and sixth grade teacher for which he has just been chosen as the best teacher of this stage in the Educa Abanca 2022 awards. In this award, known as the Goya of education, it is the families who nominate to teachers and is endowed with 1,000 euros.

“I really wanted to do Nursing, but he didn’t give me the grade. So I got into Teaching so as not to lose the year, because I wanted to try Nursing again the following year. But Magisterio I loved it. I had something that I liked and felt that it was worth teaching, ”she recalls.

Ask. What have you done to be chosen as the best primary school teacher?

Response. I love my profession. I put a lot of passion, a lot of desire, a lot of enthusiasm. And that is transmitted. From what the parents tell me, they see something different in me that they haven’t seen before.

Q. You will have a hand to engage the students…

R. Yes, as long as you engage them, then you can take them wherever you want: you teach them to divide, multiply, roots… Now to the kids, who are multitasking as it were, in the end what you have to do is engage them, present them with motivating tasks , cool, active methodologies…

R. I have two things that work very well for me. We have a gamification project that lasts throughout the year in which we are dragon hunters and by doing class tasks, missions and challenges well, we are getting points and earning rewards. That works very well. If they do things well, they get things; Yes No No. I tell them: “If you do it with good handwriting, you win xp… and they do it like crazy”. On the other hand, I was also a computer science teacher, which is why I control a lot of tools. And getting to the classroom and seeing that everything I control I can integrate for me is incredible. I have my tablet connected to the digital whiteboard, I teach from behind… it’s incredible.

Q. What do you like most about your job?

R. give class What I like least is correcting. Getting students with difficulties forward is very nice. The biggest challenge is the children who have a hard time. The other day a child told me: “You are a magician. He had never understood the division and, thanks to you, I do. But I simply limit myself to enjoy and work. And to have a very good mood, to do things happily. Because after all they are children, little people, with a story behind that we often don’t know. And we can mark them much more than adults.

Q. What is the most difficult?

R. The new educational law is very different from the one we had and it takes us teachers a long time to adapt what we do to this law. All this takes time away from what is really important, which is taking care of the children. We have started the course without defining what the curriculum is. We are halfway through the term and all this paperwork to schedule the course takes time to do cool things.

Q. And speaking of the new law, what do you think that now you have to work by skills?

R. We have been working on the skills for several years now. One can perfectly know a recipe for a potato omelette but not know how to make it. And that is not competent. It is not enough to memorize the recipe, you have to know how to apply it. Although we must not forget the memory. There are things that need to be memorized. It is seeking a balance between memorizing and applying what you know. The problem is that the new law wants to evaluate by competencies, but we still have a Selectividad where they ask you for a note.

Q. Tell me a recipe to motivate a child who does not want to study.

R. I haven’t found any yet, but I have found children with difficulties. For example, with bilingualism, some are not good at English. And studying a subject in a language that is not yours is complicated. What we do, in the end, is give it to them in Spanish, because you have to try to move forward with the child.

Q. Do children know less now than before?

R. This year I am noticing less vocabulary. It is true that they know many other things that we did not know. In certain things they have fewer skills, but in others, much more, for example, digital or social. I always say that you have to go as far as the child goes. If the child is seven, you have to roll up to seven, and if it is 10, up to 10. Get as much out of each child as possible.

Q. To what extent is the involvement of families important in the school performance of their children?

R. I am very lucky, because the parents of my students are very involved, for better or for worse. In the first meeting with the parents, I only ask for their support, to all row in the same direction. When a child is going wrong, I need parental support and reinforcement.

Q. Are you for or against homework?

R. I always say that you have to find a balance. I am a lot of work in class and if there is something that they have not finished or that needs to be reinforced, they should finish it at home. It is good that they do something at home. First, so that parents in primary school know a little about what their children are up to and what they are giving. And the second, because the study must be reinforced. I am not going to ask them the theory of adjective degrees or adjective types, but they have to know how to recognize them. One good thing about the pandemic is that we started working with virtual classes and now that is allowing me to personalize my homework. If I see that a child is bad at divisions, I just send him personalized division cards to reinforce them. In addition, I really like that they investigate. The other day we studied the cell and I sent you a paper on that. But I don’t want a copy and paste, but rather that they look for information on the internet, that they select information, that they summarize.

Q. What should be changed from the current teaching?

R. One would be to reduce the ratio in the classrooms. It has already been tested with the pandemic, with 18 students in class, and it was wonderful. Now that was personalized attention. And that would help us because we have more and more students with more difficulties who need more attention. The other would be not to change the educational law every time there is a new government. Education cannot be politicized. A consensus is needed for the good of the children.

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Personalized homework, the ‘secret’ of the best primary school teacher: “Each student reinforces only what goes wrong”

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