I am a teacher educator, artist and social activist, committed to empowerment of all young people through education. I began my career as a Montessori teacher, attracted to Montessori’s belief in the intrinsic worth of each child. Children will learn and grow if their environment does not prevent it, and will thrive if they are given the opportunity to develop their minds and hearts. As a high school and middle school science teacher, I strove to show students the beauty of science, its relevance to their lives, and the importance of the life of the mind. My goal for students is that they realize their own capability and value. I recently returned to Los Angeles after living in London and Atlanta, and have the luxury of devoting myself to art and poetry, as well as young people.
UCLA - Bachelors, European history, minors in pre-med and anthropology
UCLA - PHD, Urban Schooling
Elementary School Math
High School Biology
High School Chemistry
High School English
Middle School Science
What is your teaching philosophy?
I understand teaching to be about caring relationships. I have been a successful student, and my job is to communicate what I know. As a professional educator, I know how people learn, what the pitfalls are, and how to make knowledge relevant.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Most students who come for tutoring lack confidence. I see my most important job as letting the learner see that they can do it!
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
If a student is having problems with a particular concept, I go back a step and see where the problem started. I personally do not believe in "skills." Once a person understands the underlying concepts, then they can quickly think for themselves about what to do.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
The first step is finding out what the problem is. Many young people I have worked with can call out the words, but don't remember what they have read. I have a number of strategies for helping learners make sense of what they read.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
The most important strategy is listening! This sounds like a paradox, but really I think students know what the problem is, even though they may not know what to do about it.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Well I love learning myself, and I think I communicate that to students. Most of the time, teachers tell students what to think, and students search for that mysterious "right answer." I am convinced that students blossom when they have the opportunity to say what they think. I respect all learners as valuable, and am always interested to find out what they are thinking.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Students understand material when they can apply the concepts to a new situation. Therefore I would present several different ways of using concepts in order to assure mastery.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Confidence comes with success! Most of the time when students feel "lost," it's because they don't trust themselves. A big part of my job is to show students that they do have the ability to do well.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I listen to the student, ask them what they are struggling with, and then backtrack a little to find what the student can successfully do. My philosophy is always to build on learners' strengths.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Teaching is a two-way street. I am not just pouring knowledge into the learners' heads; we are working together toward a common goal. I always base my teaching on the give-and-take that occurs during a tutoring session. I have many strategies to use when working with an individual, depending on how they are thinking about a concept.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I generally get right down to work. We build our trust by accomplishing the goal-- that is, learning. I ask the student what they are struggling with, and if they can show me something that they have recently had a problem with. Then we work on it, and I can use that as an opportunity to diagnose where the student got lost.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Once students have experienced success, they generally feel good, and want to continue doing well. Sometimes I have to be a good listener and give learners an opportunity to talk about their feelings about school. One of the benefits of tutoring is a relationship with a caring adult who is there only for the student.