I am a social sciences and writing teacher in both training and by passion. I enjoy teaching all aspects of language, from minute grammar rules to vocabulary to the larger and more complex methods and approaches to paper writing. I am am interested in the math and sciences, and have long harbored an appreciation and a desire to share in my excitement and understanding of the world around us.
I am currently a Master’s student at the University of Chicago in a program called MAPSS (Master’s of Arts Program in the Social Sciences). I came to UChicago after six years in education so I could qualify to teach at the tertiary level. I already have a Master’s of Education in Secondary History, and confirmed to myself over six years of teaching, tutoring, and mentoring that education is where I belong. It has been quite difficult not having any students the past six months while I have been focusing on my studies, but the path before me is clear enough that I am able to reenter education.
Having as many teaching experiences and learning to meet different needs has been a strong influence on my career to date. In addition to being a classroom teacher, I have previous experience as a substitute teacher, both per diem and long term. I also taught adults with disabilities for 8 months, specializing as the Health and Wellness Instructor. I spent a year as a one-to-one for a sophomore with special needs, and after that began my pre-practicum and practicum in technical high school. I have worked for Princeton Review and PrepNow as an SAT tutor, and did private tutoring in SAT and English as a Secondary Language for six months last year.
In all of these ventures, my favorite aspect of the vocation has always been the “question,” the moment when a student pauses, sits befuddled for a second or two, then either is able to pinpoint exactly what is keeping him or her from moving on or making a poignant observation in the form of a question. What is so wonderful about those moments is they are when learning is truly happening. The results often come in two types. The first is the “a-HA!” moment that teachers crave; this is when new information fits comfortably among what is already established in our understanding, or what makes two seemingly unrelated pieces connect. The second is a feeling of distress. This is when a new piece of information or framework for looking at the world feels uncomfortable because our brain is struggling to find a place to categorize that information into what we already know, or new information contradicts what we thought we knew. Both reactions are necessary for learning, but the latter sometimes gets lost in embarrassment, uncertainty, or the swiftness of the classroom. I think that what makes a great teacher is not only giving space for those types of uncomfortable moments and not only being able to address them effectively, but giving encouragement to students to both admit to and encourage those types of sensations. Without feeling confused once in a while, how is one ever to know that he or she is learning?
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Boston University - Bachelors, History
Graduate Degree: Boston College - Masters, Secondary Education, History
GRE Verbal: 162
GRE Analytical Writing: 5.5
In my free time, I like to read. My favorite works are classical literature, and I have about five boxes of books in my basement that I am trying to get through. Additionally, I have been a writer since I was 11; I wrote Young Adult fiction before it was cool.
AP US History
College Level American History
High School English
High School Geography
High School Level American History
SAT Subject Tests Prep
Study Skills and Organization
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Humor is often the best remedy to all frustrations and the best reward for all successes.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would spend some time in the beginning to get to know them as a person and a student before collaborating on a plan of action.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Always pose questions and give space for thinking and answering. Turn questions back around on a student. Highlight (and celebrate!) the instances in which they are being self-aware in their learning.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Each student is different. Some need a little mental break, some need encouragement, some need to vent, and some need tough love.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Always start by pushing the student to be metacognitive--what exactly is stopping them from moving forward? What piece of the puzzle do they find most frustrating or incomprehensible, and can they reason how to get themselves out of it? This happens with my guidance, support, and pedagogical knowledge, but it has to be student-led.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading comprehension is not a simple category of skills. Difficulty can come at the word, sentence, or paragraph level. Each level requires a different strategy and pacing, but all require patience and encouragement. We should all remember that reading is natural to no one--it is a skill we all learn, and can be stretched and strengthened with an experienced, guiding hand.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Always establish strong rapport. Having a real connection with someone changing the entire interaction, and the enjoyment of time together in the shared pursuit of knowledge-building will increase the success of that venture.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Sometimes what allows for student frustration or lack of interest is ignorance of applicability. Why learn something if it doesn't matter? The first step to igniting love for learning is highlighting the empowerment that comes with knowledge. If I have to convince a student of the tasks they'll be able to complete or the person they'll become in mastering a skill or an area of knowledge, then it is my privilege to do so.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Teaching requires mastery. Thus, if a student is able to explain something back to me in a confident and coherent manner, they are demonstrating mastery.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I cannot build a student's confidence. No one can do that but them. However, I can assist them in achieving success, and that moment of triumph is one to celebrate and recognize as an achievement. That, in turn, allows for the sense of self-worth and pride we associate with confidence.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Figuring out what a student needs is a collaboration between the adults in their life, a careful study of their work to date, as well as the input from the student about what they feel adept and confidence in and what areas still elude them.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Adaptability suggests pedagogical as well as emotional flexibility; I would heartily argue the second is much more important than the first. We are not ready to be learners if we are not in an emotional state to take chances and display vulnerability. Amending my approach towards a student is as much about figuring out their needs as a person as it is maneuvering through different techniques of instruction.