I am a novelist, short story writer, essayist, academic, and teacher with more than three decades worth of experience in undergraduate and graduate education. I have taught critical theory, American literature, modernism, and creative writing.
I have directed two Study Abroad programs in London for the University of Connecticut (in 1999-2000 and 2007-2008), and developed programs in creative writing at UCONN, Kingston University (London) and, most recently, at St Mary's University College. From 2007-2013, I developed the first MFA program in creative writing at Kingston University, directing that program from 2011-2013. From 1989 until 2007, I developed the Creative Writing program at University Connecticut - editing the literary magazine, initiating a Visiting Writers program that is now known as one of the best in the country, and promoting recruitment of experienced CW faculty. I directed several strong PhD dissertations for candidates who have gone on to productive careers in university teaching and research. In 2007, I joined the faculty at Kingston University. I directed more than two dozen dissertations at the MA and MFA levels, and I established potentially productive relationships with several American MFA programs and their faculties.
I have received a Student-Led Teaching Award for Best Program Development as well as being Runner Up as Best Postgraduate Tutor. I am currently half-time at SMUC, and enjoy my time there teaching at the undergraduate level while helping develop their new MA program in First Novel Writing. Additionally, at City Lit, I am currently developing their first online program in creative writing.
I consider myself an enthusiastic, energetic, and confident teacher - whatever the age or experience of my students. I am also a native Californian and would love an opportunity to put my four decades of teaching experience to use in my home state. I enjoy writing sentences, paragraphs, stories and essays; I hope to communicate that same sense of pleasure in writing to my students.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of California-Los Angeles - Bachelors, English
Graduate Degree: University of California-Irvine - PHD, English
Reading, writing, movies, and current affairs
Q & A
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Through patience, repetition, and practice. And by teaching them ways to read, evaluate, and revise their own prose.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Teach them the pleasures of good prose, which are most apparent when you read good prose out loud. I also encourage them to WRITE AND READ GOOD PROSE every day!
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Help them understand that we don't learn new concepts by banging our heads against them. Doing a little work on the problem every day will get you through in the end.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading aloud - to yourself, or to others - is a great way to learn to appreciate the pleasures of good prose. Once you enjoy those pleasures, you will want to communicate those pleasures to other readers. Reading requires patience, focus, and a GOOD book - NOT necessarily a book you are SUPPOSED to read!
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Patience, clarity, repetition. I find that close reading of work - the student's reading assignment, or the student's first written response to that assignment - is a good place to start thinking about how sentences operate.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Encouraging the student to find their own personal interest in a text, an argument, an issue - and proceeding from there.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Discussion, reading aloud, Socratic questions. It often helps for the student to write down their first responses to a text or a problem, and trying to revise that response for clarity and argument.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Finding THEIR interest in a subject is step one. Helping them understand that what they're TOLD to understand is not necessarily quite as interesting!
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I ask them: "Hey, what are your needs?" I find that most students need the same things: practice, daily exercise in the subject, and developing their own personal enthusiasm.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I try, try again.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Normally we will discuss the student's interests in a subject. Then we will explore a text, or an issue, from the student's course work. Then, most importantly, we will look closely at the student's prose, and develop techniques for revising, and clarifying that prose.
What is your teaching philosophy?
Try, try again. And WRITE AND READ EVERY DAY!
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
As I said, read closely (and sometimes aloud) significant passages from the student's own work, or assigned reading, and discuss.