With a BA in English from Washington University in St Louis and an MA in education from Arizona State University, I am a certified English Language Arts teacher for grades 7-12 with an endorsement in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. I am also an experienced standardized test prep instructor and study skills tutor. My students have included everybody from gang members and refugees to the most gifted and highly competitive students, so I can customize instruction for anyone!
I look forward to helping you master the skills you need to achieve your personal goals and get to where you want to be. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have about me, my background, or my teaching philosophy.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Washington University in St Louis - Bachelors, English
Graduate Degree: Arizona State University - Masters, Curriculum & Instruction (emphasis on Teaching ESL)
writing, reading, art, bellydance, Medieval literature, languages, linguistics, circus arts, disaster movies, thrifting, science
10th Grade Reading
10th Grade Writing
11th Grade Reading
11th Grade Writing
12th Grade Reading
12th Grade Writing
9th Grade Reading
9th Grade Writing
ACT with Writing Prep
College Level American Literature
High School English
High School Level American Literature
High School Writing
Middle School Reading
Middle School Reading Comprehension
Middle School Writing
Study Skills and Organization
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
It is important for a teacher to deliver instruction in ways that address the needs of his or her individual students. The best way to develop new skills and ideas varies from one learner to another, and I make it a priority to quickly identify the best ways to help each of my students absorb new content and practice targeted strategies. Learning a concept also means something different to each student. Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to master something new, and everyone can bring something different to the task. Each student must find her own source of motivation to learn, and the teacher's job is to help them find it. In order to do this I always like to find out what excites and challenges each of my students, and to find new ways I can use this information to engage them in their own unique learning process. Likewise, learners need to feel their unique capabilities and perspectives are valued, and I make a point of showing the ways I respect the needs, talents and interests of my students when I teach. One of the greatest rewards of teaching is seeing students take pride not only in their academic accomplishments, but also in their authentic selves as thinkers. Nothing makes me happier than seeing this happen!
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
First, I get to know the student. Together we set challenging but attainable objectives based on his personal goals, as well as the skills he possesses already. Next we determine what strategies would be most beneficial through both formal and informal assessments such as practice tests, work samples and a general chat about what he likes/dislikes about the targeted content, and how confident he feels about his existing skills. We also identify the learning styles and instructional delivery that would be most effective for the individual student. Finally, we outline a course of study: the student learns what to expect during our sessions -- both what he will learn and how we will know he has learned it -- and offers feedback every step of the way.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
It's all about metacognitive skills! Students can learn to look back at what they have learned and accomplished, and identify and evaluate their existing knowledge, challenges, strengths and learning needs. It is also important to know oneself well enough to determine the best way one can fill in the gaps. Curiosity and motivation are qualities that can be learned -- yes, learned! -- and refined, too.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Each student needs to find his or her own personal reasons to apply themselves to learning any given new skill. My job as an instructor is to help my students identify these unique reasons and use them to visualize attaining their goals.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
One of my internships during the course of my teacher education was in a Read180 classroom, and much of my TESOL training is rooted in teaching reading skills to students with a wide range of educational and first-language literacy backgrounds (including students who have none at all). I also have worked as an AVID tutor who provided instruction in different strategies for reading comprehension. When I tutor standardized test prep I can offer a number of different strategies to approach critical reading tasks, but I favor the ones that can be applied to real-life college reading. In short, I am armed with many strategies that can be customized and combined for any student, and am experienced in teaching children, teens and adults how to use them. The key is finding the best ones for each student and, of course, (structured and guided) practice, practice, practice!
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I have to find out what is standing between my student and the new skill! Once we can narrow it down to a concrete skill we can develop together -- and figure out how to measure our success in doing so as we go along -- we make a plan of attack to address that pesky gap in knowledge. I ask questions to get her talking through her thinking process when she approaches the problem at hand. This is not only so I can diagnose the problem, but also so I can help my student develop the metacognitive skills she can use to gage her own understanding and help herself work her way through the process, even when she applies the new skill or knowledge after our session ends.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Before we begin, and after we assess my student's existing knowledge and skills -- which is a process that involves not only grades and test results, but also more qualitative measures like writing samples and past work, whenever possible -- we sit down and set goals that are challenging (but attainable) and that are also measurable. Yes, together we need to decide what we can push this student to be able to do beyond our sessions, but we also need to figure out how to measure this mastery. How will we know what he can do? What specific tasks and problems will we take on to assess the success of our efforts together as we go along? We make our goals concrete: "I will earn 5 points in the organization and conventions sections of the rubric for my personal narrative assignment next month," or, "I will be able to complete all of the questions about multiplying matrices in my homework" rather than "I will be able to organize my writing better," or, "I will get good at matrix algebra." That way we have the best understanding of what exactly the student's goals and expectations are, and also can more easily find and navigate the path to attain those goals.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I like to connect the material with my student's prior knowledge and interests outside of school so that she can see how it is related to her personally. It's also important to think often about the consequences of achieving our goals: perhaps she'll most enjoy studying art history at Duke or the University of Chicago if she can increase her composite ACT score by three points! Or maybe she even just hopes to gain something material, like a new car from her parents if she makes all A's this semester! It's easy to stay motivated if my student keeps the rewards for success in sight.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
It's all about keeping those goals measurable. What can we do as we go along to check for understanding, and what do we want to be able to do by the end of our fourth session together? How will we know that the student knows it? I also like to ask questions while I observe the student working through a problem or assignment. It's important to see the process as a whole, not just the final grade or score. This holistic approach to successful thinking also helps us identify and iron out specific questions and challenges along the way.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I have to help my student recognize and value the existing skills he brings to the task of tackling the targeted material. Is my student trying to learn how to write a persuasive essay? It's great that he has heard positive things from his teacher about how well he developed his thesis in the last expository essay he turned in, and that he already feels confident in his ability to decide which ideas can support his thesis effectively.