One of my favorite writers, Bret Lott, once wrote: "Of course words matter. Of course we must choose carefully." As a teacher, I aim to impart Mr. Lott's lesson to my students, chiefly, that we must give time and effort, as well as great care, to the manner in which we express ourselves. After all, writing is a craft, much like a painter taking brush to canvas, or a sprinter gliding along a track. Keeping this and other lessons in my mind, I teach my students the value of hard work and the virtue of perseverance, all in an effort to achieve their potential.
I have spent the last three years working as a high school English teacher in the NYC public school system, and earned a Master's degree in Education (grades 7 to 12). Prior to becoming a teacher, I earned an MFA degree in Creative Writing. My poems and literary criticism have appeared in such respected journals as American Book Review, Washington Square, Eleven Eleven, and others. I will bring the breadth and scope of this experience and knowledge to work for you and your needs.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Stony Brook University - Bachelor in Arts, Psychology
Graduate Degree: Brooklyn College - CUNY - Master of Arts, Education
Writing, Photography, Baseball
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is that each student, no matter the level of competence at which he or she begins a task, is able to learn a concept, however difficult it may seem. The question, therefore, is not "Will I learn?"; instead, it is "How can I learn?"
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In a first session, I would ask a student how best she learns new material. Is she a visual learner who works better with images? Or, does she prefer to tackle new concepts by being given a model with which to work? This is a process that requires the teacher to listen carefully to a student's specific learning styles.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Becoming an independent learner is a process and requires patience (and a bit of trust). I would develop independence in a student by, for example, presenting a model of a properly written essay, guiding that student through the writing process, and finally, allowing the student to create an essay on his own. I would, of course, be available at all times as a motivated guide and supporter.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
You can't have motivation without goals, in much the same way that a long-distance runner can't compete without wanting to win a marathon. After all, what's the point of expending time, energy, and talent if there is no reward at the end? In much the same way, I remind my students that, while achieving a goal may be difficult, the end result--writing an excellent college admissions essay, for example--is empowering and incredibly satisfying.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
In my experience, using different kinds of approaches--until finding one that works--helps my students learn difficult material. For example, when I recently taught the history of the Islamic Revolution as background for reading "Persepolis," my class began by analyzing articles in The New York Times. When I noticed that all of my students were not absorbing the material, I introduced videos and short films that brought that history to life. After taking this approach, the number of students who were prepared to read "Persepolis" increased.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I help students by presenting a number of strategies and questions, some of which follow: 1. What words do I understand? How might these words help me better understand difficult passages? 2. What might the writer be trying to say? Are there any hidden meanings in the passage? 3. Does this passage look like anything else I've read in the past? If so, how?
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I find that allowing a student to show me what he already knows is a good way to begin. At that point, I can guide a student towards new strategies with which he may not be familiar.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I aim to bring a number of different resources, such as video clips, technology and electronic resources (iPads, etc.), and graphic novels, to enrich the learning experience. I also find that field trips enhance the learning process for those students who are struggling with a concept.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
The first technique I would use to test whether or not a student has learned the material is simple: Ask the student to run through the steps in the same way that I modeled them. Another technique I use is to ask students how we arrived at the answer--in reverse order.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I build student confidence one step at a time. If the student has trouble completing an essay, for example, we would focus on making the different parts of an essay as strong and well-written as possible.