My name is Kelly, and I am in my third year of teaching. I currently teach kindergarten through fourth grade special education and have previously taught kindergarten as well. I love working with students and helping each child reach their full potential. I believe that each student is capable of learning and strive to instill a love of learning in all of my students. In my classroom, student growth is celebrated and each student receives individualized instruction in order to successfully master skills. I consistently utilize researched based instructional practices to ensure that students receive the most effective education possible.
I have experience teaching kindergarten through fourth grade in a variety of settings. I taught in an urban school setting my first year and am currently in a rural school setting. I also completed my student teaching on the Navajo reservation, working primarily with students who were English language learners. I had the opportunity to spend the summer of 2015 in China, teaching students English through an intensive learning camp. Throughout college I also volunteered at Girls, Inc. in their homework help room. My love of teaching started in high school when I was a peer tutor for the essential skills classroom. Currently, I teach special education and have experience with a various types of learners.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Indiana University-Bloomington - Bachelors, Elementary and Elementary Special Education
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that each student is capable of learning, but that all students learn in different ways. Because of this, I believe that students learn best when instruction can be individualized to their unique learning style. I also believe that learning should be hands on, if possible, and that students learn best when they can apply concepts to real life situations. Students learn best when they find topics interesting, and I work to include student interests in my lessons as much as possible. Finding ways to make learning interesting helps students stay engaged and commit lessons to memory, and also makes the learning experience better for both the student and the teacher.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In a typical first session, I would work on building rapport with the student and getting to know their personality while also completing some academic tasks to learn their present levels. If the student came with a specific assignment, I would work with the student to complete the assignment and ensure that the student understands the concept. I would then take the information I gained to plan how to best achieve the student's goals in the future.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I believe that scaffolding best helps students become independent learners. When introducing a new concept, I make sure to demonstrate the skill multiple times to the student so he/she can see the process. Then I guide them through completing it while providing feedback. Once the student has practiced the concept with guidance, I allow the student to try to complete the problem independently. From here, I can either go back to guided practice or move on to higher level thinking questions depending on how he/she does. If the student completes the skill independently, I can ask questions such as "how do you know?" or "what did I do wrong if I did this?" so they can demonstrate mastery by reteaching the skill back to me.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Students are more motivated to learn when there is a topic of interest or when there is a real life scenario that relates to the subject area. When I work with students, I involve their personal interests in the lesson as much as possible and I also relate what they are learning to things in real life. For example, when working on improving reading fluency, I choose reading passages that are about specific interests.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, I would scaffold the skill. I would demonstrate the lesson and then guide the student through it. When it got to the point where the student struggles, I would repeatedly practice that skill or step until the student demonstrates mastery. If the student continues to struggle, I would use different text, manipulatives, or learning styles in order to find the individualized instruction that works best for the student.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
When students struggle with reading comprehension, the first thing I assess is whether they understand the difference between the "wh" questions. Do they know that when a question asks "who?" it refers to a person, and when the question asks "where" it refers to a place? If they understand the basic concepts, I teach the student how to visualize the text as they read it. If students can make a picture in their head of what they are reading, they will be able to remember details easier. As the student gets to higher levels of comprehension, I would teach strategies to find answers within the text.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
When I work with a student, I typically use items that will engages the learner. I find resources about topics they enjoy or use hands-on items to engage their critical thinking. I also will personalize activities to their interests so that they are more engaged in the subject matter.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
When I work with students, I have found that building rapport is extremely important. Once the student feels comfortable around you, they will feel more confident to attempt work that might be hard for them. From here, I am able to assess what the struggle is and break down the material into manageable parts based on their needs. I also believe in using positive feedback with students so that they have high confidence even when a subject is hard. This helps students attempt new concepts with a positive attitude and gives them confidence that they can learn.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
When a student is struggling with a subject, I break down the steps so that the task is more manageable. I try to find real life examples of when the topic would be used so that the student can see value in the subject. I also find material using the subject that relates to their interests so that the student becomes more engaged with the topic. Another strategy I use is to find manipulatives to make the learning hands on.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I use informal assessments to ensure that a student understands material. These demonstrate whether a student can complete the task independently or not. If the student completes the task independently, then I will gradually increase the difficulty. If the student struggles to complete the task independently, I will demonstrate and guide the student through more examples until they understand the concept and can demonstrate it with independence.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I help a student build confidence in a subject by gradually helping them complete the task independently. I start with demonstrating how to complete the skill correctly. Then I complete guided practice while the student and I work together. I allow the student to complete more and more of skill independently. Once they complete the work independently, I ask higher level thinking questions in order to ensure a deep knowledge of the skill.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I evaluate a student's needs by starting off with basic material and seeing how much they know. I would increase the difficulty as the student showed proficiency and evaluate the point at which a student starts having trouble completing a task. From here, I would demonstrate the skill and provide practice so that the student is able to complete the task independently and build on the knowledge.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
When I am working with a student, I consistently change my methods based on the student's needs. If the student is an auditory learner, I will give verbal directions; if they are a visual learner, I will demonstrate; and if they are a kinesthetic learner, I will use manipulatives. Many times, I utilize multiple strategies in a lesson so that the student has exposure to multiple styles of completion. I also break down concepts into smaller parts based on student need so that each student receives the best possible instruction.