Maria Cantu has been educating children for 12 years; 9 of those years at Daniel Ramírez Elementary School in Pharr, Texas. She knew she wanted to become a teacher when she was volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club the summer of her 9th grade year. “I instantly fell in love with teaching.” In addition to teaching at the school, she is the CLF leader, is responsible for school PR and is the school’s sponsor for the Mighty Hawks soccer club! “Go Hawks!”
Ms. Cantu is also the proud mama of 5 kids: 3 girls and 2 boys (14, 13, 9, 8 & 7). WOW! The two youngest attend Ramírez Elementary where Ms. Cantu teaches. “My kids continue to exceed my expectations in all aspects of academics”.
Describe how you communicated and shared information with your students’ parents prior to using LivingTree. Before using LivingTree, communicating with parents was mostly all ‘business’; I put notes on the weekly homework sheet, made phone calls when needed, used memos periodically, and scheduled parent teacher conferences. I wasn’t really sharing the day to day joys of student learning and achievement, nor was I establishing the close rapport with parents that I sought. With LivingTree I can truly SHARE with parents what is happening in the classroom daily.
What feature or aspects of LivingTree do you appreciate most? Our school has implemented LivingTree campus wide so we have a community of teachers who post [in LivingTree]. I love that we can share our classroom achievements with one another. I get to see other teacher’s classrooms; it has brought about a sense of camaraderie throughout our school.
Being so busy, how has LivingTree helped YOU specifically? Every year the district requires us to complete an evaluation for McREL. To complete the evaluation, we are to provide ‘artifacts,’ documentation showing how we are growing as a teacher. I provide lesson plans and pictures from the school year…we all know pictures are worth a 1000 words. LivingTree makes it easy to find all my information for the entire year in one place; “very quick, easy and effective”. I shared my ‘process’ with other teachers. They are now also using LivingTree as the tool for ‘documenting’ what they are doing in the classroom.
LivingTree has an App and can be used from a PC; which do you prefer? Both are valuable and user friendly. The app is convenient – I use it for messaging, but I tend to use it mostly for sharing photos. I sit at the PC when messaging and completing my McREL evaluation.
What do the parents of your students say about LivingTree? Parents and students alike love LivingTree. Parents are “very happy” to see their child’s picture posted showing them hard at work, receiving an award, or celebrating a special day. And my students love it too! It has gotten to the point where they say, “Mrs. Cantu, take a picture for LivingTree.”