Spanning 37 states and 20 countries, Epic Master Teachers spark innovation and creativity among colleagues and help shape the Epic experience by providing their expertise and insights through surveys, interviews and advisory groups.
Introducing: Epic Master Teacher of the Month, Brian Lopez!
Currently, Brian Lopez works at the amazing Emma W. Shuey School in Rosemead, CA. In a traditional school year, Mr. Lopez teaches small groups of English Language Learners (ELL) in grades K-6 on a daily basis. During the pandemic, he’s been fortunate enough to continue teaching a small group of 20 newcomer students (students with little to no English) the basics of the English language. While he’s been in the classroom for over 18 years, this is his 5th year teaching in his very own classroom as a certificated teacher.
Epic: How did you get into the profession of teaching?
Lopez: My adventure in education began as a Special Education Instructional Aide during the school day while also working as a youth leader for an after-school program in the afternoon. It was then that I realized that I was passionate about working with children of all ages and abilities. I knew that I would eventually need a classroom of my own to implement all the wonderful teaching techniques that I had accumulated during my time inside and outside of the classroom.
Epic: What inspires you to continue teaching?
Lopez: I am inspired by my students, educators and technology! Being in the classroom allows me to explore my growth mindset by going on a new adventure every day with my students. I enjoy sharing my #edtech adventures in the classroom at educational technology conferences because it allows me to inspire other educators and reach students beyond my classroom. My Master’s Degree in “Digital Teaching & Learning” challenges me to find creative ways to drive educational technology to fit the needs of my students!
Epic: Tell us a little bit about how remote-teaching has been for you.
Lopez: Remote teaching has been rewarding and yet very challenging. I like to start every school year teaching my students how to use educational technology to learn academic content. This experience allowed us to pick up where we left off in the physical classroom and dive into the digital classroom via Zoom. I knew that I had prepared my students well for using technology not only in my classroom but also in their homeroom classrooms.
Epic: What has been the most challenging aspect of teaching remotely? What are you the most proud of this year?
Lopez: One fact is I do not speak many of the native languages of my students, so my biggest challenge during remote-teaching has been communication. When this new school year started I was fortunate again to teach a newcomers group. This time I had a blend of former students with newer students. I had to establish a common language dialog with both parents and students before I could proceed in any direction. Nevertheless, My students are truly the rockstars of remote learning. They have acquired a tremendous amount of the English language via a combination of Zoom and hybrid learning. They work hard at everything they are asked to do, and there’s always a Flipgrid video that captures their learning.
Epic: How do you like to use Epic in your classroom?
Lopez: Epic books is my “Netflix style” library of on-demand literary resources that I can use to enhance every lesson that I am teaching. My class loves to search for books that have the Read-to-Me function because it helps them listen to the English language. Every story we read as a class is accompanied by a digital graphic organizer that helps them better understand the story, and of course we record a Flipgrid video for an Epic story retelling!
Epic: How has Epic impacted student learning in your classroom?
Lopez: It has had an epic impact on student learning in my classroom! During our celebration of Black History Month, one student made the connection during our reading that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born in the state of Georgia just like Jackie Robinson! During our celebration of Cesar Chavez several students made connections to the vocabulary word “boycott” from the previous stories we read about Rosa Parks & Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Epic: Do you have a favorite book that you like to read with students? Lopez: I love reading holiday books to my classroom, it’s a great way to engage and explore the holidays with my students. I like reading the book Chinese New Year by Rebecca Pettiford because the conversations we have are so genuine and exciting! It’s the one book they can all relate with and they are all eager to share how they celebrate the holiday at home.
Epic: What’s your one piece of advice or mantra to share with other educators who might be struggling this school year?
Lopez: You are an amazing educator! Give yourself a high five for making it to this point in the school year and in your educational career! Change does take a while and there will probably be some bumps in the road, but it does get better. Remember to focus on using your strengths and keep moving forward!
We hope you enjoyed hearing from Epic Master Teacher of the Month Brian Lopez! If you liked this, check out our post featuring last month’s Epic Master Teacher, Eboné Lawrence-Smith.