Helping people (especially children) learn has always been of great importance to me and was taught to me at a very early age. It was a value instilled in me by my paternal grandmother and various aunts and uncles who were educators in the schools of the Board of Education for the City of New York. These family members originated from south Texas as well as the Caribbean islands. So, there was a certain amount of intensity and grit that they exhibited each and every day of their lives not only with their students but with their colleagues. I can remember my uncle, who was a fiery baseball coach, coaching his second baseman on how to turn a double play. He made them him practice the art for the entire practice until practice was over. I also remember going into my grandmothers' 2nd grade classroom at P. S. 43 in the Bronx and I can remember my grandmother taking home students Monday through Friday who had difficulty memorizing the multiplication tables and had to stay and practice after a long day of learning. These instances are just two of the many opportunities that I had to see the values of intensity and grit displayed in the educational setting. Those examples were the seedlings that would prove to be beneficial into me becoming the man that I am today.
Because the elders of my family forged such an identifiable pathway, I have always been drawn to the field of education. I can recall playing school with friends and family members at the young age of five and I would always be the teacher directing people where they should be what they should be doing and how they should be learning. Since my first job at the age of 14, every single job I've had has been helping children learn.
I have been told on numerous occasions that I am an intelligent person and have an ambitious personality. My ambition in life is to become a respected mentor and educator. Personally I am willing to participate in any activity that will broaden any chance of making my ambitions become a reality. Therefore I understand the importance and difficulty of making my ambitions come true.
I've been a member of many sports teams since the age of six for both school teams and community organizations. Playing sports not only gave me the opportunity to develop great physical fitness routines that I will continue to use for the rest of my life, but it gave me the chance to learn how to collaborate with others. It also started to teach me how to network with others who didn't necessarily share the same viewpoints I did. Another result was that sports helped me come out of the shell I was in prior to becoming a teenager and become more outgoing. Two of the positive effects of becoming more personable was being voted Prom King senior year in high school and excelled during my college interview to Morehouse College. These are some of the outcomes that can result in becoming more outgoing and personable through sports.
My academics in high school never suffered while I kept such a demanding schedule. I had honors and advanced placement courses all throughout high school and I finished in the top 7% of my graduating high school class. Participating in all of these activities in high school gave me an excellent opportunity to learn and practice the art of time management and the ability to cope with the pressure of any situation. These skills have proven essential as I have moved throughout my professional career and life in general.
In undergrad, I had the opportunity to really gain an appreciation for educational pedagogy.
The first theory that left a great impression on me was Tabula Rasa by John Locke. This has been the premise behind my teaching for the last 13 years. It is our job as educators to positively add to the experiences that children bring into the learning environment. If educators provide enough of these positive experiences on this blank canvas, students can gain a love and an appreciation of learning that can last a lifetime.
At the Spelman education department (I attended Morehouse College for undergrad and although we did have an Early Childhood Development major, all education classes were taken over at Spelman education department which was located right across the street) we went into great detail about Piaget and his studies. One professor who successfully integrated his ideologies into her course was Professor Christine King Farris, sister of civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (who was also a Morehouse alumnus). Piaget is known primarily for his developmental stage theory. But what has stayed with me all these years from Professor Farris' class was that Piaget dealt with the nature of knowledge itself and how humans come gradually to acquire, construct, and use it. To Piaget cognitive development was a progressive reorganization of mental processes as a result of biological maturation and environmental experience (combining nature and nurture) Accordingly, children construct an understanding of the world around them, then experience discrepancies between what they already know and what they discover in their environment. Piaget claimed the idea that cognitive development is at the center of human organism, and language is contingent on cognitive development.
BF Skinner is famous for Operant Conditioning (Behaviorism). He was a firm believer of the idea that human free will was actually non existent and anything that humans did was the result of the consequences of that same action. If the consequences were good, the actions that led to it would be reinforced. But if the consequences were bad, there was a high chance that the action would not be repeated. Skinner called this the principle of reinforcement. To me, this is the basis of how all human behavior is developed.
The next two theories are two of my favorite that I've learned in all of my studies of education pedagogy because I see them played out virtually every day in the school-based setting. The first theory is multiple intelligence by Howard Gardner. The theory states that intelligence differentiates it into specific "modalities", rather than seeing intelligence as dominated by a single general ability. Gardner articulated seven criteria for a behavior to be considered an intelligence. He stated that each learner possesses a unique blend of all the intelligences. Gardner wanted his theory of multiple intelligences to "empower learners", not restrict them to one modality of learning. Gardner chose eight abilities that he held to meet these criteria: musicalrhythmic, visualspatial, verballinguistic, logicalmathematical, bodilykinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. I hold this theory in such high regard because this is the basis of student learning where students haven't had very much success exhibited in the traditional educational environment. It's really important to highlight student success is outside of Mathematics, English, etc. in an effort to make those students want to strive to do better in those major subjects.
The last theory is by Lev Vygotsky and it's called Social Development Theory and ZPD Social interaction is critical for cognitive development. Related to this is the idea of a "zone of proximal development (ZPD)." Some skills, an individual can perform independently. Other skills can be performed if the individual has assistance. Skills I can be performed with assistance I said to be with and an individual's ZPD. The ZPD is the theoretical basis for scaffolding. Scaffolding is a phenomenon that takes place with students independently learning versus students learning with their teachers. A good educator is able to assess the amount of scaffolding that's necessary for each learning outcome for each of their students and provide their students with that necessary amount of assistance they need in order to be successful.
Being a child development major afforded me the opportunity to learn in this valuable education pedagogy and have the chance to put it to practice. Of course there were the traditional student internships that we had with each class, as well as the student teaching experience that we had for the entire second half of our senior year. But I was afforded to very special opportunities to put my theories of learning a clashing to actual practice. The first opportunity was cold perspective student seminar at Morehouse College. This is an opportunity where prospective students from all around the world toured and visited the campus for four days. What made this opportunity so special was that every year there a student leader that was selected to run the entire event. Planning for the event started a year out, so it was really important to put systems in place to make sure that the event's plan well and ran smoothly. I was afforded the opportunity to be a student leader of the event. I had a staff of 50 and I had a working budget of approximately $200,000 at my disposal as a college senior. It was an opportunity to put all of the education that I had learned up until that point into good use.
I served as a residence assistant my last four years and undergrad, the last two of which I served as the lead residence assistance. I also had opportunity to work with a program called Pre-freshmen Summer Program while at Morehouse College. I work this program my last three summers of undergrad. This program allowed me to utilize many of things that I learned in the classroom as well. My last two summers I served as the chief academic officer of the program. I served as a conduit between professors, school administrators, high school students and their parents.
After I graduated from Morehouse College, I have successfully taught second through fourth grade as well as six grade in the Atlanta and the surrounding suburbs. I have studied on the graduate level at Georgia State University and have also gone on and helped lead schools in New Orleans and helped lead schools as well as helped open a school in New York City. I have worked with nonprofits to increase math and reading performance in the population that the service. I have also helped political campaigns better strengthen their educational platforms.
I am a well-rounded and motivated person who will thrive in an academic environment.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Morehouse College - Bachelors, Early Childhood Education
Playing and watching sports, traveling, music cooking and dining out
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
All students can learn. It’s up to their teachers to help them figure out what are the best ways to learn and how best to retain what was learned.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Get to know the student and give a pre assessment.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
By making the student aware of their learning style and helping them gain an appreciation of learning.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
By making learning fun, interactive and different from the regular classroom learning experiences.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Reteach it a different way.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Model best practices and have the student practice.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Some strategies include giving the student a learning styles inventory, baseline pre-assessment and a learning interests survey.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
By showing the student that they can be successful within the topic area and relating the subject to their own experiences.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Observations, questioning, test, projects and role-play.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
By having the student exhibit success within the subject and by practicing.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
By observation, asking questions, giving projects and tests.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
By asking questions, observations and evaluation.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Test booklets, hands-on-materials and project materials (depending on the student's age and ability).