I received my education as a full merit scholar at the University of California in Santa Cruz. Because I have eclectic interests I chose to study Latin American and Latino Studies, an interdisciplinary combination of sociology, politics, Spanish, and history. Additionally, I passed with honors an extremely rigorous International Teaching English as a Foreign Language course in Buenos Aires, Argentina that was certified by the College of Teachers in the UK. With this certificate, I have taught both foreign children and adults to improve their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills as well as aiding students to improve their scores on the TOEFL exam.
For the last ten years I have worked at Jenks Public Schools teaching middle and high school students a wide variety of subjects including ESL, Spanish, physical science, life science, pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, American history, geography and 7th-12th grade language arts. Regardless of the subject, I have always relished the opportunity to work with students to help them develop critical literacy. In life, we may never need to remember the parts of a cell or the quadratic equation but a requisite of success and upward mobility in many fields is analytical thinking, reading, and writing.
Another crucial skillset I foster in my students is having a growth mindset, the philosophy by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck which posits that challenge as an opportunity for growth. This means helping students shift their thinking from "I can't do it" to "I can't do it YET." This small grammatical change can be a powerful tool that means the difference between giving up and persevering, between making a grade and internalizing learning, and between plateauing and reaching their full potential as students and as people.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of California-Santa Cruz - Bachelor in Arts, Latin American and Latino Studies with an emphasis in Feminist Studies
Reading, painting, yoga, hiking, backpacking, travel, and cooking
10th Grade Reading
10th Grade Writing
11th Grade Reading
11th Grade Writing
12th Grade Reading
12th Grade Writing
4th Grade Reading
4th Grade Writing
5th Grade Reading
5th Grade Writing
6th Grade Reading
6th Grade Writing
7th Grade Reading
7th Grade Writing
8th Grade Reading
8th Grade Writing
9th Grade Reading
9th Grade Writing
Elementary School Reading
Elementary School Writing
High School English
High School Writing
Middle School Reading
Middle School Writing
Study Skills and Organization
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that tutors prepare students for success not by asking if they know the answer but by training them to identify a problem, consult resources, evaluate and synthesize information, formulate a solution that makes sense, and then act upon their decision with confidence because they have evidence to support their thinking. Students are then empowered to be active creators of information rather than passive recipients of facts from books just to make a grade.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
The first tutoring session will consist of the student setting some goals, and discussing what exactly I can do to help them accomplish the goals. I may do an informal assessment or provide work samples to gauge where his or her currents skills are, and then we can jump right in. Sometime between the first and second session, I may ask the student to complete an interest inventory, which helps me personalize subjects to the student and make learning as engaging as possible.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
My emphasis, regardless of the subject matter, is teaching students to become better critical thinkers. I won't ever give away an answer; I'll ask leading questions until the student can come to the answer by him or herself. I can also teach students processes to reach these conclusions independently by providing scaffolds and templates.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
After working with at-risk youth for over a decade, engagement is my specialty. I find it deeply satisfying to work with individual students so that I can focus my attention on assessing their understanding and adapting instruction to their learning styles. My interests are wide-ranging, and I have certifications in all core areas, so I am able to help students make connections between an area in which they possess strength, and a concept that they're struggling with to help them better understand. I integrate visuals, songs, and kinesthetic activities whenever possible to aid with retention.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Intuitively I am constantly assessing student understanding so that if we come to a road block, I know what it is and how to help you overcome it. We will build you background knowledge so you're prepared to understand it. My instruction is targeted to your learning style. For example, if a concept is challenging, we will draw pictures, color code or relate it to ideas that are more familiar (visual), find or make up a song about it (audio) or act it out, or play a game with it or manipulate its parts (kinesthetic). A challenge is a wonderful opportunity to grow your skills in the area.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I completed several graduate level literacy specialist courses. Common strategies I use to help students improve their reading strategies are ensuring you have access to appropriate resources (reading level and topic relevance), building background knowledge about the topic, studying the author's craft to see what tools they embed in the text to make it more comprehensible, and personalizing the text to see if the subject matter relates to something you know a lot about. As a reading coach, I emphasize modeling and participation and never, ever use boring worksheets.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I find that learning is largely dependent upon fostering a good rapport with students. I want to get to know a little bit about them so that we can build a positive working relationship. As Rita Pierson says, "You can't learn from someone you don't like."