I spend my days doing my favorite things in the world: educating and learning from creative, inquisitive kids. I currently create mathematics curriculum for several local school districts, teach pre-kindergarten physical education classes, and run a cooperative education program in the Naugatuck Valley of Connecticut. My current goal is to step back into the classroom and teach in an elementary school.
Over the years I have worked in a variety of areas in the field of education. I have worked in many different settings with children of all ages, abilities, interests and backgrounds. My journey started while I was interning in the Hamden Police Department, in an effort to engage the community into the workings of the police department, the detective I was working under and I created a citizens academy to teach community members about law, and the police department. While teaching classes at our newly established, my intern supervisor insisted I should look into teaching, and pointed me in the direction of an alternative education program that would merge my interest in the field of law and all things legal and my talents within the classroom atmosphere.
While still in my undergraduate college, I gained employment as a Behavioral Interventionist for the Area Cooperative Educational Services (ACES) Alternative school. I have learned through this experience how to interact and connect with challenging students, how to engage in conversation with them and how to work on their language skills from a beginner to intermediate level. I so enjoyed engaging these challenged students that I solidified my decision to enroll in the graduate of education program at the University of New Haven.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Albertus Magnus College - Bachelors, Sociology/Law
Graduate Degree: University of New Haven - Masters, Elementary Education
Running, cooking, enjoying the outdoors
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe all students are capable of learning. I believe children are our future. I believe families and teachers should act as a team to educate each child. I believe learning never stops. Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or the same way.--George Evan It is my firm belief that every child possesses the ability to learn. The way in which each student will learn, however, is likely to be different depending on the unique qualities of the child. I seek to create a classroom where learning is hands-on, authentic, employs high-level thinking and, above all, fun! When students are able to learn through experiential opportunities, their learning is more likely to be ingrained. Learning should also meet the needs of each individual. Students can participate in a safe and comfortable learning environment without feeling overwhelmed or frustrated. An education is not solely academic; together with the parents, the teacher must nurture her students' academic, social, behavioral and interpersonal development. I believe teachers are not alone in educating students but rather part of a team, with peers, administration, families and communities working together to support and enrich the lives of each child. It is my hope to never stop learning and I seek to instill this love of life-long learning in each of my students. Students in my classroom will create attainable goals for themselves that they will work to accomplish throughout the school year, thus setting a purpose and a value to learning and to being part of a classroom community. Above all, we will all work together to help each and every student in our classroom community feel safe, comfortable, and meaningful. Each and every student is special in his or her own way!
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
As an educator, I embrace creativity! I encourage students to participate in activities that would explore their creative side. I enjoy engaging students in thought provoking discussions. If we are teaching to creativity, we need to embrace it too. Reward students for thinking of problems in varied ways by recognizing their efforts. The classroom environment must be a place where students feel safe to share novel ideas. Allow for flexibility and create norms that foster creative approaches. Teachers, like me, still firmly embrace the state standards and can adapt them and work within the current framework. Some topics allow for flexibility and use of creative approaches. I understand that creativity builds confidence. Students take ownership of their own learning. I also will continue to consider what is important to students. Student interests are a great place to start on what drives their own thinking tank.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I enjoy designing multidisciplinary lessons when possible. When teaching geometry, I utilized a lesson of symmetry through art. It included works of art to show first graders their application to everyday geometric concepts. Creativity requires us to use different parts of our brain. We often bridge connections between seemingly unrelated areas to make new concepts emerge.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I have always begun the school year, by setting precise student expectations with the student's input, in order to establish ownership of behavior. Often, we cooperatively revise and alter some of the rules established on day one, but it is rare that the student expectations change. I have always made general rules and consequences that are related and logical, and enforce them in ways that are appropriate for individual children.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I am extremely patient, as I am aware it will take weeks to get my students to where I want them to be, and I will have to continually reinforce their behavior all the way through June. Having your procedures firmly in place will make teaching easier and more effective throughout the entire year.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Effective assessment is varied and often. I am the type of teacher to use informal assessment methods frequently in the elementary classroom for formative, summative or diagnostic purposes. My students are under constant evaluation as simple as a checklist of skills or a small-group activity which, with more formative assessments, can provide an overall picture of a child's achievement. Teachers need data. To teach effectively, teachers need to know if their teaching methods are working and how well their students are learning. By assessing the progress of individual students as well as the class as a whole, I can judge if my presentation of the subject matter has been successful. Students need data. Students -- especially at the elementary level -- need to have a concrete, measurable way to follow their own progress. Without the yardstick of assessment, whether it is a letter grade, stars on a chart or simply the opinion of their teacher, students have no way of knowing if they are succeeding or failing. They also have no way to set achievable goals or make plans to successfully improve their performance. Use multiple methods of assessment. The traditional method of using test scores alone not only fails to measure a child's learning experience, it also often doesn't give any information about why a child has failed. Test scores still provide valuable data, but they should be combined with the observations, projects and even careful attention to classroom discussions. All of these methods will not only allow a teacher to assess a child's progress, but will also offer clues to when and how a learning failure may have taken place, making it easier to successfully adjust a lesson plan. Implement alternative methods of assessment. In addition to traditional tools like reports, projects, peer reviews and presentations, I have used alternative methods, such as a portfolio, which often yield more information about the students and their learning. Observing what a student chooses to include in a portfolio can give a teacher valuable information about their learning style. Involve the students in the assessment process. Research suggests classroom learning may be directly proportional to student involvement. I find great value in asking students for an honest evaluation of their own progress. I have also presented students with a project rubric, and the students were able to measure their own success against the rubric's major points.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Assessments help to accurately measure students' academic strengths, weaknesses, and interests on a day-to-day basis and provide a road-map for the next steps in instruction. As a general rule, I provide each student with an initial skills assessment in each subject area at the beginning of the school year, in addition to gauging student knowledge and needs before introducing a new concept, unit, or to review or expand on topics. Each student is different, and as their teacher it is my job to reach out and be certain he or she is learning. In such, I employ four elements based on student readiness or interest.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I employ higher-level student activities and create projects that ask the student to rehearse, apply, and extend what he or she has learned in a unit.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Many students have different learning styles, and will benefit from different types of activities in which they engage. For this reason, I like to provide a variety of approaches to my teaching style. I use tiered activities, through which all learners work with the same important understandings and skills, but proceed with different levels of support, or challenge, and provide interest learning centers for student exploration, offer manipulatives for students who need them, and vary the length of time a student may take to complete a task. This provides additional support for a struggling learner, or encourages an advanced learner to pursue a topic in greater depth.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
We will all work together to help each and every student in our classroom community feel safe, comfortable, and meaningful. Each and every student is special in his or her own way!
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I seek to create a classroom where learning is hands-on, authentic, employs high-level thinking, and above all, fun! I always seek to allow students to gain enjoyment in what they are learning.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Students -- especially at the elementary level -- need to have a concrete, measurable way to follow their own progress. Without the yardstick of assessment, whether it is a letter grade, stars on a chart or simply the opinion of their teacher, students have no way of knowing if they are succeeding or failing. They also have no way to set achievable goals or make plans to successfully improve their performance.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I have always begun by setting precise student expectations with the student's input in order to establish ownership of behavior. Often, we cooperatively revise and alter some of the rules established on day one, but it is rare that the student expectations change. I have always made general rules and consequences that are related and logical, and enforce them in ways that are appropriate for individual children.