For as long as I can remember, I have been a teacher! Even as a little girl, when everyone else wanted to play house, I wanted to play school and be the teacher (of course)! My favorite time of the year was when the local school district would give away outdated curriculum. I still remember my first teacher's guide...
I began tutoring in high school, helping other students in ways that their teachers and other tutors were not able to. I was able to explain topics in ways that made sense to them, not because of any formal training, but because of my own experiences with the topics. It was then that I knew I had to become a teacher!
When I graduated from the University of Central Florida and stepped into the classroom the first time, it was not as all as I had expected. I did not realize that to be a teacher meant that you also had to be a counselor, nurse, cheerleader, coach, manager and sometimes the only constant in the lives of your students. This has been both challenging and rewarding. It was within those first few weeks of teaching that I realized that learning is a lifelong process that occurs outside of the classroom just as much, if not more so, than inside the classroom and that the basic foundation of this learning is literacy.
I wasn’t supposed to have my own classroom. I was the ESE/ESOL Coordinator, so I was supposed to just co-teach and make sure that the staff was kept up to date on student data and strategies to use with their students. It was my first day of pre-planning that I learned I would be teaching reading. There was no curriculum and no expectations that the students would learn. There was no expectation that they would even stay in the classroom. The reading class, according to others who had taught it, was more of a holding cell for students who didn’t fit into the schedule during that period. (This was before the state mandated reading courses based on test scores.) I wondered what I had gotten myself into.
I took everything I had learned in my internships and at school to develop my own curriculum. I wasn’t allowed to order textbooks, because they were too expensive but I could get a class set of workbooks and a class set of one novel. I did the best with what I had and not only did my students “stay in the classroom”, but the lowest 25% of the students made learning gains in reading! Although I had never considered teaching reading before and didn’t even realize how important it was past elementary school, I knew I was teaching what I needed to teach. I understood better that without fundamental literacy skills, students struggle in school and in life. I also realized that, though they are often recognized and receive the help at attention they need, some students still manage to “fall through the cracks” of the system.
Over the years, I have taught and co-taught subjects ranging from Reading to Algebra I, but my role as a teacher with a degree and background in both Educational Leadership and Exceptional Child Education has remained the same - to identify the topics in which students need additional support and to do everything I can to ensure their needs are met!
University of Central Florida - Bachelors, Exceptional Child Education
Southeastern University - Masters, Educational Leadership
American Sign Language
College Level American Literature
Elementary School Math
Elementary School Reading
Elementary School Writing
FCAT 2.0 Prep
High School English
High School Level American Literature
High School Writing
ISEE-Middle Level Reading Comprehension
ISEE-Middle Level Verbal Reasoning
Middle School Reading
Middle School Reading Comprehension
Middle School Writing
Study Skills and Organization
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe an important key to success lies in recognizing students' individual strengths! As a teacher and tutor, I strive to help students distinguish their own special gifts and talents. This is achieved through developing and cultivating relationships with students, as well as the parents/guardians of younger students. Having a good understanding of a student's interests and achievements, as well as where he or she struggles, helps me to tailor lessons that will be beneficial to the student. Goal setting and progress monitoring is key to achieving tutoring objectives. I prefer to work with the student (if possible) and the parents/guardians of minor students to establish SMART goals. This collaboration yields the best success!
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
The first tutoring session is all about getting to know the student and setting goals! The more I know about what the student likes and dislikes, as well as strengths and areas to work on, the better able I am to plan and prepare tutoring sessions.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Becoming an independent learner is vital to success in adulthood. To help students achieve this, I teach research-based strategies that students can use on their own. In time, these strategies become second-nature to students.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Motivation is most easily achieved when you know and understand your student. To keep a student motivated, I would aim to use materials of high interest to the student.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
When students are having difficulty learning skills or concepts, the first thing that I do is try to determine why he or she is struggling. As soon as we are able to identify why the student is struggling, we are better able to work together to improve. Making connections with real world situations or individual interests is helpful in this.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
There are several strategies that can be used to help students struggling with reading comprehension. These strategies, such as the K-W-L strategy, can be tailored to each student's needs. Because there are a wide variety of strategies, if one does not work, another can be used.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Whether you're working in Algebra or Intensive Reading, the most successful strategy that I have used with students is making connections to personal interests. Integrating technology, using manipulatives, and research based instruction techniques are all beneficial while working with students as well.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Making connections to the student's interests is key to helping them get excited and stay engaged with subjects they are struggling in.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Review and questioning are great techniques to use to make sure that students understand the materials covered.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Building a student's confidence in a subject can be achieved by celebrating small successes and providing feedback on effort as well as completed lessons.