I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences from Clemson University. After graduating, I took a couple of years off to try to figure out where I wanted my career to go. After working as a teaching assistant in the oceanography department at the University of New Hampshire, I discovered my love of teaching. It was at this point that I went to graduate school at UNH and earned my Master of Arts in Teaching with a focus on the sciences.
I got a job right out of grad school working for Parker Charter School; the first of the Coalition of Essential Schools. This school and the Coalition closely align with my own beliefs about teaching. I feel it is important that students see the value in what they are learning. It is also important for teachers to realize that not all students are the same; however, every student has the ability to learn and be successful if given the opportunity to access the information in a way that best matches their learning needs. I will not give my student's the correct answer. Instead, I will guide them in finding ways to get to the answer. In the real world, we will often have to find the answers ourselves, so it is imperative that we know how to problem solve, and in doing so, we need to understand what our resources are, and how to use them. I hope to provide my students with lifelong learning skills, rather than just facts which they may forget after a test.
Outside of my life as a teacher, I am a mom of twin 2.5 year olds, and I'm an athlete. I am a runner, and I also play soccer in a women's league year round. I love to watch TV at night to relax. I also like to read, draw (with charcoal is my favorite!) and paint as well.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Clemson University - Bachelors, Biological Sciences
Graduate Degree: University of New Hampshire-Main Campus - Masters, Education
Soccer, running, charcoal drawing, painting, volunteering with animals
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe it is important to provide meaningful learning experiences - experiences where students can make connections to the real world and apply what they are learning, rather than simply memorize and more often than not, forget. I prefer to use the model "student as worker, teacher as coach." Most students learn best by doing, but I also know that everyone learns differently, and I hope to know my students well enough to understand what they need in order to grasp a certain concept.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Start by getting to know the student a bit with questions such as: - What are your interests outside of school? - What is your favorite/least favorite subject? - What would you like to do after high school? - How do you learn best? I would also tell the student a little bit about myself. Then I would find out what the student is working on currently, and my first question is often "Tell me what you know about this topic already."
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
By not giving them the answers. It's important that students learn how to use their resources around them. I will teach a student how to find the answers, and we will explore different methods for studying to remember information.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I think one of the best ways to help them stay motivated is frequent and quick feedback. No one likes to wait three weeks to find out how they did on a test. I realize I will not be grading their tests, but we can complete mini assignments together that are applicable, and give the student the important feedback they need to see how well they actually understand the material. In addition, it's important to find connections to the student's life to keep them engaged.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Well, it depends on the student with whom I'm working... Generally speaking, I would ask the student to tell me what they do know about the skill/concept, and if they are able to, I would ask them to verbalize where they are getting stuck, and take it from there.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Break apart the text with them. Start by looking at the headings and subheadings, and bold words to "pre-read" and try to figure out what the text will be about. Discuss what they think they will be reading about, and have them turn those bold words and headings into questions that they can answer as they are reading the text. We would take it one paragraph, or section (depending on the difficulty and length) at a time.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Trust. Students needs to be able to trust their teacher and know that it is ok that they don't understand something and they can ask me any questions without feeling bad (or stupid as they often say). This goes along with getting to know my students, and the importance of that first meeting when I will take some time to just talk with the student about who he/she is and who I am.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Try to relate the topic to their life somehow. Or make the learning more fun. For example, can the student create a song/rap out of the content?
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I would be constantly assessing the student to gain their understanding. Most of the time, they would not even know it's happening, as I may ask simple questions as we go along, or maybe a bit more obvious, make up a quick "quiz" at the end of the session to get the feedback. Or even more simply, are they answering their homework questions correctly?
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Celebrate even the smallest of successes.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
This takes some time. I will ask the student how they think they learn best, and start there, but it is through my own observation, and getting to know them as learners, that I am able to determine what it is they need. If possible, I would also use my resources, which are the student's teachers.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
It depends on the student and the need... For example, If a student needs more hands-on things to learn, then I will do my best to come up with hands-on activities. Or, If a student needs to visualize, we can look at videos and images and discuss the information.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Paper, the text the student has from the school, PowerPoints (if I have one on the content), the Internet (YouTube, Google searches, etc.).