I hold a Master's Degree in Political Science with a focus on comparative European political history. My specific research interests include Scottish Nationalism and British Politics and I have taught courses in subjects ranging from American and Comparative Politics to European Union Foreign Policy and Political Discourse. I have a passionate interest in political history and enjoy sharing that interest with students.
In addition, I am currently on a leave of absence from my doctoral program in the Humanities (Studies in Culture). My area of interest is early modern Atlantic maritime culture, particularly political and socioeconomic culture, and my dissertation is a study of early 18th-century pirates and their expressions of political identity. While my research interests are varied, I am particularly interested in early modern political culture in the British Atlantic world.
I also have experience teaching in the Humanities. I have taught courses as varied as American Culture and World Literature to Celtic & Norse Mythology. I very much believe in an interdisciplinary approach to understanding any subject and often employ a variety of methodologies in the classroom. I am also fond of employing unorthodox teaching methodologies, including roleplaying, crisis simulations, and games.
My teaching philosophy is based, first and foremost, on sparking an interest in the subject matter. Whether it's turning history from a monotonous recitation of names and dates into an epic narrative of adventure or breaking the student out of their own limited worldview and encouraging them to adopt a very different perspective, my methods can be very effective because I seek to connect the material to the student's own experiences and interests. Without that connection, there can be no motivation and without motivation there can be no learning.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of North Florida - Bachelors, Political Science and Government
Graduate Degree: University of Louisville - Masters, Political Science and Government
Maritime History, Scottish History, Sailing, Aviation, Horseback Riding, Hiking & Backpacking, Writing, Gaming
College Level American History
High School English
High School Geography
High School Level American History
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is based, first and foremost, on sparking an interest in the subject matter. Whether it's turning history from a monotonous recitation of names and dates into an epic narrative of adventure, or breaking the student out of their own limited worldview and encouraging them to adopt a very different perspective, my methods can be very effective, because I seek to connect the material to the student's own experiences and interests. Without that connection, there can be no motivation, and without motivation there can be no learning. I very much believe in an interdisciplinary approach to understanding any subject, and often employ a variety of methodologies in the classroom. I am also fond of employing unorthodox teaching methodologies, including roleplaying, crisis simulations, and games.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Get to know the student and his or her interests and hobbies in order to understand their motivation, and connect the material to their own lives.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
By challenging the student to develop their own ideas and support them with evidence and logic.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
The key to helping a student stay motivated is to find a way to connect the material to his or her own interests and goals. In order to do that, you have to get to know the student and find out what drives them.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
First, determine if there was something I might be doing that wasn't working, such as looking at how I was presenting the material. Second, I would try to determine if I perhaps had misread the student and their interests and motivations. Finally, I would adopt a different approach based on this modified assessment of their individual interests and goals.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading out loud can be an effective means of helping with reading comprehension. Also, writing exercises based on the material we had just read would be very effective. I would also encourage note-taking and give pointers on how to take notes as you read.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I have always found that getting to know the student and their individual interests, hobbies, and goals is essential to motivating them to learn.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Again, by connecting the material to their own interests, hobbies, or goals. If they were a gamer, for example, I would connect it somehow to a game. Or I would turn the exercise into a game. If they were a sports enthusiast, I would find a way to draw a connection - perhaps describing a particular historical event (i.e. a battle or war) in terms of sports. The key is learning to speak the student's individual language. Finally, I have always found that turning the lesson into a story - a narrative of sorts - also makes it far more interesting and engaging.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I find writing exercises to be very effective, particularly those that require the student to demonstrate an understanding of concepts rather than a simple recitation of facts and figures. While I would employ quizzes and flash cards, for example, to help build an understanding of facts and figures if necessary, this is also a preliminary step, and ultimately, the goal would be to develop an understanding of key concepts, which can be evaluated through writing or through student presentations.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Students must be encouraged to take a chance and try to answer questions or tackle subjects they find difficult. By doing this and encouraging them with positive reinforcement (and completely avoiding negative reinforcement), I feel that repeated success on the student's part leads to confidence and a positive outlook.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
There are a variety of ways to evaluate a student's needs. First of all, asking the student is the best way to start. Though they may not know all of their needs, their answers will provide clues as to what areas need the most attention. If tests, papers, or other graded materials from a course are available, these can provide insight into what areas need the most attention. Finally, evaluating the student with writing exercises, quizzes, or just dialogue can be effective at determining what the student needs.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
My teaching style has always been founded on dialogue and discussion. I have shaped my teaching to meet the needs of each unique class by developing an understanding of the character of each group of students. With an individual student, this is even more effective, as getting to the know the student and his or her own preferences, needs, and goals will help me shape my teaching to that particular student. If the student enjoys talking, then we might adopt more discussion, while quieter students may prefer a more lecture-based approach. Again, it comes back to getting to know the student and understanding what drives and motivates them to learn.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I rely heavily on discussion, and often use whiteboards or some other common means of illustration. When needed, I will employ charts and diagrams, though I don't like to overly rely on these, as they can quickly bore a class and become meaningless. I enjoy using a variety of "texts" to teach; and I use the word "text" in the broadest sense, as in literature, music, film, pop culture, and so on. Finally, I have used games and roleplaying exercises to engage students and make the material seem closer and more relevant.