I am currently an ESL teacher at Dozier Middle School in Newport News, where I teach beginning to advanced English learners. Although I am an ESL teacher, I am also certified to teach middle and high school English as well. I have collaborated in mainstream English classrooms as part of my teaching load, so I am familiar with the curriculum and expectations for all students in an English class. In my four years of teaching, I have worked with elementary, middle and high school students, including 12th grade AP English classes, 6th-8th grade English classes and even some work in summer school with 3rd-5th grade content. My point: I have a broad range of experience teaching everything related to English - whether it's phonics and learning how to read, becoming a more advanced reader in high school, learning to write basic sentences, learning to write high school essays, appreciating Shakespeare, developing public speaking skills, or acquiring vocabulary for the SAT or ACT. I am confident that I can help all students in achieving their educational goals.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Bob Jones University - Bachelors, English Education with an Emphasis in Teaching ESL
ACT Reading: 30
SAT Verbal: 710
Softball, running marathons, traveling, and playing with my dog
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I have a student-centered philosophy of education, meaning that the focus is on what the student can do, not on what I can do. I function as a guide on the side, not a sage on a stage.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would first try to get to know you a little bit, and I'd share some info about myself. Then, I'd determine what you want to accomplish in our tutoring sessions. I'd also like to see some of your writing, or hear you read, or try to assess your language abilities in some other way so that I get a better picture of your present status and what the next steps therefore would be. Then, I'd tell you what I think and then get your input as well.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Equip the student with the tools to learn so that he or she is not dependent on me always. This might consist of teaching the student a skill or strategy that can be applied in new situations to help the student, or showing the student where to find helpful resources on a topic.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I point out the small successes and the large ones. I try to keep the big picture in my mind and the student's, and I try to connect the learning to everyday life and make it relevant.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would discern what is causing the difficulty. Does the student not have the background knowledge to appreciate or understand the text? Are they reading a word wrong because they haven't mastered a rule of phonics? Are they simply not trying? Do I need to try a different approach? After doing some digging to get the answers to those questions, I then make the needed corrections. Frequently, trying a different approach works well.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I have them read to me. Then, I find out if they know all the sounds, and if not, we would work on decoding the actual sounds in order to make meaning. If decoding isn't the issue, but just retaining the information, I'd have them stop after each paragraph and summarize what they just read, mark on the paper, underline important things to them, make connections to everyday life, make predictions, revise and confirm them, and generally, just interact with a text. I would teach them strategies such as previewing the text features to get an idea of what it's about before even starting into the text, having them make a prediction about what they will read, or some other method. After reading, some appropriate steps are to write a summary of what they read in the form of a letter, blog, text, tweet, or newspaper article - something that will require the student to take the words and make them his or her own.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Jointly deciding on a plan for tutoring is a good idea. Getting some samples of the student's work or current abilities in the subject area so that the next step can be determined is also a good way to go.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would find ways to make the learning relevant to everyday life. That might involve finding videos or photos that demonstrate how the concept applies, or just discussing the personal benefit from that skill.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I would stop and ask comprehension questions every so often, if we're reading. If we're discussing vocabulary, I would ask the student for examples or to use that word in authentic contexts. For the words resources, disperse, and persnickety, I'd ask, "What are some resources you would need for school? For making dinner? For going to the moon? What smell would you want dispersed in your room? What is dispersed when the bell rings at school at the end of the day? How would you treat a persnickety person?" The student's answers to these questions will tell me whether they understand or not.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I give the student scaffolded exercises that start easy and gradually develop into being more difficult. In the beginning, I offer more help, and as the student is successful, I gradually release the support until he or she can function independently of me.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I get a sample of the student's writing, or I have the student read to me. Or, I ask them if they know what a word means or if they can use it in a sentence.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I try to incorporate my students' interests into each session. For someone really interested in software or web design who is trying to improve their writing, I would have them write frequently about software or web design. I also adjust instruction to the needs I notice in my pre-assessment. Does the student need more help with vocabulary? Does the student need more help with reading strategies, or decoding? Then I focus on those needs.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
A variety. Sometimes we use a textbook to practice reading, sometimes a computer, tablet, or smartphone to look something up. Sometimes, we just use paper and pencil for jotting down notes or making illustrations, and sometimes I try to help the student make an interactive notebook where they have a place to record what they've learned about various topics (like root words, prefixes, suffixes, etc.).