I chose to enter teaching after experiencing work in multiple career fields. As a result, the way I approach teaching is to activate all relevant background knowledge to create a context for understanding. My specialty is in language acquisition and utilization; I work to help students learn and use English for all purposes.
I have been a language learner, so I understand the challenge of learning new words as well as renaming the things I already know. I'm a life-long student, currently pursuing a Ph. D. in Curriculum and Instruction as a culminating demonstration of knowledge. I also constantly self-educate on issues of interest, including cooking and nutrition, international travel, and pet- and child-care related to my family.
In addition to teaching middle school and attending graduate classes, my family occupies much of my time. My children are 10, 8, and 6, and we have a wire-hair terrier to keep us entertained. Our family is active in sports and activities while holding high educational expectations. We bike, play soccer and tennis, enjoy diverse cultural outings, and make time for family and friends.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Queens University of Charlotte - Bachelors, English, Communications
Graduate Degree: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Masters, English Education
international travel, cooking and nutrition, academic challenge
ACCUPLACER ESL Prep
ACCUPLACER Reading Comprehension Prep
ACCUPLACER Sentence Skills Prep
ACCUPLACER WritePlacer Prep
High School English
Study Skills and Organization
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Anyone can learn anything with the appropriate support and explanation. Learning is about finding context for information that makes it relevant, applicable, and of value to the learner. Without active reflective thought it's not learning, it's training.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Always begin with the end in mind. What is the long-term and short-term goal of tutoring, and how do those goals relate to the work that must be done? What is particularly difficult, or especially easy or interesting? Answers to these questions can help me to shape the interaction and shared effort.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
When a student knows what kind of input activates their receptivity and memory, they are able to learn independently. Often students are attempting to learn things that aren't being presented in a way that registers for them, and they may not know that. If it requires a different kind of input, knowing what that might be and how to get it is essential to independent learning.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Constant feedback is motivating. Feedback does not necessarily mean praise; I'm not someone who believes in trophies just for showing up. Constructive criticism, modeled metacognition, and praise when appropriate help students to recognize their own progress toward a goal, increasing motivation to reach that goal.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
The first step is always to identify what is difficult about the skill or concept. Is it conceptual, functional, contextual, or is it simply disinterest? Identifying the reason something is difficult immediately spells out the remedy. Restating, providing new or different context, or modifying the application expectation can all make a difficult skill or concept attainable.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Both Orton-Gillingham and Lindamood-Bell strategies address comprehension challenges. Understanding why a student does not comprehend determines which pathway is more beneficial. Students who can decode but cannot visualize or contextualize their language struggle with comprehension in a different way than students struggling to effectively decode and "hear" the words they are reading.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I'm an open book. Ask me a question and know that I have no motivation or purpose for misleading you. Building an appropriate trust helps students understand my primary motivation is their success, but I can't do it alone. I also want to hear the student's own purposes or motivation. If a student is engaged in a learning experience due to external pressure, his/her commitment to the process will be different than a student who is self-motivated. When I can understand that, I can modify my interaction appropriately.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Success breeds success. Struggling with a subject is not the end of interest, but alleviating the struggle makes the interest keener. Students are more likely to be engaged when they experience success and can replicate the experience with effective strategies.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I believe strongly in Socratic questioning. Students who are capable of articulating what they have learned, how it relates to something greater, and when it would be applied truly understand the material. Anything less is simply surface knowledge and will not last.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Again, success breeds success. Confidence comes from knowing that the learning is applicable and the knowledge can be attained through careful use of strategies.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Teaching and learning are two sides of the same coin. When students cannot articulate for themselves what their challenges are, my job flips from being the teacher to being the learner. I need to learn from and about the student to better understand their needs. Socratic dialogue can accomplish this, as well as review of a student's in-process work.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
When I understand a student's goals and challenges, my instruction is geared specifically to reaching those goals. Finding that individual's point of access to the information is my primary job as a teacher; everything about that is adaptation.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
When a student has materials from their own learning environment, those are the primary materials I like to use. If it's familiar, it creates easier access to the learning. If a student does not have materials related to their learning goals I have a significant professional library from which to draw, depending on the student's needs.