This has been a year of firsts for Leticia Citizen.

The 21-year teaching veteran and i4Coach for Beverly Hills Unified School District headlined her first keynote earlier this year at CUELA Palooza (with several other keynotes that followed). The Equity in Action CA group – of which Leticia is a co-founder of – also held their first AND second Equitarium events this year, events centered around equity, inclusion and welcoming spaces for the BIPOC community. Leticia was also recruited to be a CUE BOLD Featured Speaker – this will be her first time speaking at BOLD.

She tells OnCUE what attendees can expect from her BOLD sessions and how she’s blending equity in everything she does.

Briefly describe your session(s) for readers. What can they expect?  

Close Reading Culturally Relevant Music” – Students’ prior knowledge and experiences exude diversity and inclusion. Combine these with the use of Close Reading strategies and Music to cultivate a space where each student’s voice is shared and relationships are nurtured. Inspire students to interact and closely read music lyrics through a lens of diversity and equity to engage on significant issues surrounding culture, social justice, inclusion, and racial discourse. 

From Passive to Active Learning with Nearpod” – Engage with Nearpod to experience how to cultivate an environment of active learning, support emerging voices, and provide choices for diverse learners.

What are you most passionate about in education and how is that infused in what you present on?

I have so many interests which land under a Social Justice umbrella. My passions consistently involve sharing, presenting, and teaching with the use of primary sources, educational technology, creating and entering spaces to amplify marginalized and forgotten voices, on top of culturally responsive teaching. I am truly enthusiastic about the use of primary sources in connection with culturally responsive teaching, while connecting EdTech in some way with a Social Justice theme woven throughout the school year. My careful selection and purposeful use of primary sources allow intentionally left-out voices to speak their existence into our historical understanding.

I am also interested in exploring the use of EdTech platforms, technology, and how they interact with Social Justice. My commitment to both educational quality and student achievement begins with the high standards I hold myself to in delineating differentiated learning and student advocacy, then using all available technology to link those two tenets in an actionable way for my teachers. By exploring various methods and platforms for lesson delivery, I assist teachers with identifying preferred paths to customizing how standards are covered in their classes. (Leticia Citizen)

My focus on student voice zeroes in on how their achievements, the confidence informed by those accomplishments, and leveraging the results of reaching these milestones, which contributes to fostering a culture catering to class-wide and individual study. I showcase these practices with each interaction when facilitating digital citizenship lessons, coaching teachers, and presenting. All of the above is infused in what I present and how I choose my session topics.

 What’s in your “secret sauce”? What makes you unique as a presenter?

I constantly look for new opportunities that put me in the position to help technology transform how students absorb concepts, build learning foundations, analyze the information they encounter, and apply it to the world they will shape. This approach leverages the digital environment with where modern students were formed and developed into who they are, using familiar tools of self discovery and voice amplification. Whether the chance presents itself in a classroom where I can create a technology-based learning environment immersed in a Social Justice lens for students to flourish or supporting the district as a teacher on special assignment assisting with implementing and embedding digital tools to modernize curriculums, I am certain this is my secret sauce differentiating how I present and connect with my audience .

Sharing how I integrate various digital platforms and tech tools in tandem with a centralized focus on equity, inclusion, accessibility, and social-emotional learning with teachers at conferences is what I know to do. Giving teachers space and time to try it for themselves, providing interactive activities for teachers to participate are interwoven throughout my presentation, and a reflection space for teachers to note their WOW (biggest takeaway), HOW (lingering questions), and NOW (what will try next day) are routinely included in my sessions. Also, I amplify my students’ voices by sharing their work, their learning processes, and feedback.

What does Madeline Hunter’s lesson model mean to you? Why is this lesson design still important today?

It is imperative to implement culturally responsive practices, interventions, and support for educators that can be utilized in school settings. In the spirit of James Baldwin, who stated “Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by those doing it,” we specifically need to interrupt pedagogy that only teaches skills and not other standards that students need. Therefore, lesson designs today need to reference Gholdy Muhammad’s Historically Responsive Literacy Framework. “AN EQUITY MODEL FOR PEDAGOGY IN ACTION”, as we teach the whole child and not just skills. One way is to utilize The HILL Model (Histories, Identities, Literacies and Liberation), which is an equity framework for teaching and learning across all disciplines. Honoring traditions and theories of culturally responsive learning, it is rooted in the four collective goals advancing learning for students and removing them from a space of asking, “Why am I learning this?” The four goals are Identity, Skills, Intellectualism, and Criticality

Also, I highly recommend the use of the Social Justice Standards, “a road map for anti-bias education at every stage of K–12 instruction.”

Why CUE? (What makes it special to you!)

Honestly, it is certain people who have strengthened my PLF that keeps me attending and sharing at CUE events.

As educators who value learning from the experience and ideas of diverse voices, we recognize the importance of creating welcoming spaces that allow ALL people to feel they belong and are valued. Through this collective behavior and soul-building belief, I am included and seen by them when I attend CUE.

Join Leticia for this year’s CUE BOLD conference. For more information and to register, visit www.cue.org/bold today!

About Kristin Oropeza
Kristin is a full-time special education teacher, contract consultant, and educational content writer. She is a Google Certified Teacher (Level 1 and 2), Google Certified Trainer, and MIE Expert for 2020-2021.