“I thought I would want to be that change or that teacher that I didn’t get a chance to get”

Ms. Briseno helping a student in office hours.
Ms. Briseno helping a student in office hours.
Marianne Sanchez

Ms. Briseño is a teacher at AJMS and she enjoys teaching here. She believes that every student has an individual personality, and that everyone is different, which makes teaching an adventure every year. She has evolved a lot being a teacher and it has changed her as she progressed on. 

She has evolved so much and has made many valuable memories with her students. At the start, she didn’t really think about being a teacher, but over time she has adapted to teaching middle school students and has learned to be more accepting and loving to all students of different backgrounds. She now takes all the things she’s learned as a teacher and has learned that everyone is different in their own special ways.



Marianne Sanchez: Okay so how is your experience as a teacher at AJMS?

Gabriela Briseño: In the last year or just in general?

MS: In general.

GB: In general, okay so teaching at AJMS has always been an adventure. There’s always something different about each student, about each class, about each year. Especially coming back from the pandemic, things have been very different, so I just feel like it’s always been a different kind of adventure. When we first came back, we were all still doing Covid tests and getting used to it and then last year things were getting more normal and then this year it just feels a lot more normal this time around.

MS: What made you want to be a teacher?

GB: I grew up in South Central, so I know the neighborhood very well and I had a bad experience in my middle school. A lot of my teachers were absent for a lot of the year. I had a lot of subs, kind of like in this school we’ve had that unfortunately. When we came back from the pandemic, where there were different subs instead of like actual teachers in the classroom, and that’s how it was for me when I was a student. I don’t feel like I learned a lot during middle school.

When I went to high school things were more difficult but then when I went into college things became more difficult and when I realized that we didn’t get a great education in South Central, I thought I would want to be that change or that teacher that I didn’t get a chance to get. Like even if I tried a little bit I felt like it would be a lot more helpful than not having a regular teacher in the school and I know the area and I know the neighborhood. Like I said I know the neighborhood very well so I know what’s it like to be a first, like a first generation student, which means your parents aren’t from here, so I know what’s it like to go through that and then to have to overcome that. Plus sometimes the neighborhood isn’t the safest and you have to overcome that too, so I just thought it would be great to be able to help students the way I wanted to get help, the way I wanted my friends to get help. And that’s why I became a teacher.

MS: Did you always want to be a teacher? Like did what you want in a career ever change? 

GB: I didn’t want to be a teacher in the beginning, honestly. I didn’t start my adult life being a teacher. I didn’t go to college to become a teacher in the beginning because I’m the first in my family to go to college – I had no idea what I wanted to do so I found something that I liked and I went with it and I got my bachelor’s degree in it. That degree is classics and that’s like the study of ancient civilizations, and I studied mostly Greek civilization so I had to study ancient Greek language and Latin and I learned about their archeology, which has nothing to do with what I doing now really. But then later on in the road I realized I could do it because being a teacher is hard and I see how much work it is and I saw it before I became a teacher. I was trying not to be one but I felt like ultimately that’s what would make me feel like I have a purpose for my students and things, like so yeah, I didn’t always want to be a teacher but now I am.

MS: What is your favorite memory during teaching?

GB: Now this question is difficult to answer because I think about the moments were, okay, I’m thinking of a lot of things. I’m an intervention teacher so that means that I’m a teacher for students that are not at the English level they’re supposed to be, and last year there was a really cool moment when a lot of the intervention students did so well on the RI that they moved to investigations in the second semester and as a teacher I felt good about that because I was able to help them. And obviously you students have to put in the work too so it’s a combined effort right: your teacher tries, you try, and then they left the intervention and went straight into investigations.

But I also had another student who had always in his RI, he had never gotten a number, he was always so low that he didn’t even want to try anymore and I tried to encourage him to do his best and for the first time ever he got a number for his RI score and that felt good because even though he’s not exactly where he’s supposed to be at yet, he saw that he could do it because he didn’t believe in himself anymore and sometimes that’s the problem. Sometimes when we don’t believe in ourselves, we don’t make it far and that’s not because we can’t. It’s because we don’t even try sometimes because we’re like “No, I already failed, so why even try.” But when I see that in him, when I see that in other students, when I see that in myself, you realize you can do a lot. And yeah, that was a long answer to your question. [laugh]

MS: How have you evolved as a teacher?

GB: Well I started off in high school and that in itself is a big change because I had eleventh graders for my first year of teaching and that was my first year of teaching so I was still figuring things out, but eleventh grade is so different from middle school because they’re looking at colleges, they’re looking at AP exams, they’re looking at things with a lot more responsibility, they’re looking at becoming adults and in middle school you’re transitioning between a kid and a teenager. So I think as a teacher I’ve evolved too because there were a lot of things as a teacher for middle school that I didn’t get because I was so used to high school and so I started to understand like, “Hey I can do this with my students.” So I just think that I am able to understand my students better now. I think that I am able to be more open about some things because middle school is still a lot of playing around and I don’t mean just like disruptive, I just mean like it’s still at an age where you still want to do a lot of playing, a lot of joking in a certain way. In high school they still do all those things but it’s a lot different, so I just learned to adapt as a teacher and I hope like I’m not just like a boring high school teacher. 

MS: Have you changed, like yourself in any way, by becoming a teacher?

GB: Yes, a lot.

MS: How so?

GB: I have an answer, I’m just trying to find the right words. Well I have learned how to accept people more because all students come from different backgrounds. Some of them have both parents, some of them have one, some of them have been dealing with things that no kid should ever deal with. And as an adult, as a teacher I’ve learned to see things differently. Like just because somebody has a bad day, one of my students might have a bad day and they might say somethings that’s rude or disrespectful, I’ve learned not to take it to my heart because sometimes people are just dealing with things and then you learn about how somebody might have a mom or somebody has somebody that is in the hospital and you realize as a person, I’ve realized to take that everywhere I go. I shouldn’t just look at somebody and go, “Oh that person is rude or mean” and be sensitive about it but think about in a different way. Like people go through stuff and we don’t always know, so that’s what I’ve taken as a teacher. To be more loving I guess, to be more accepting of everybody and their backgrounds and their stories because life is hard and some of us have it harder than others. 

MS: Well, thank you for letting me interview you.

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  • J

    JosueOct 13, 2023 at 10:48 am

    I don’t have Ms.Briseno but she seems like a nice teacher.