I am a native of Phoenix, Arizona, though I consider myself to be a naturalized tucsonense in spirit. Likewise, I received my BA from Arizona State University in Religious Studies, but really came into my own in Tucson, where I earned a MA in History of the United States and a PhD in the History of Latin American. I am currently enrolled in the Teacher Education Program at Pima Community College. I have enjoyed teaching at the college and high school level, in a variety of subjects, including government and politics, and classes in the history of Latin America, the United States, and world history. I believe that research, evidence-based discussion, and wide reading in a variety of scholarship is integral not just to academic success, but to good citizenship, too.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Arizona State University - Bachelors, Religious Studies
Graduate Degree: University of Arizona - PHD, Latin American History, US History, World History
In my spare time, I like to read, watch movies with my family, travel, write, and explore Tucson.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I work hard to assist students in their quest to become responsible for their own learning and expand their learning autonomy. I have extensive experience teaching and tutoring. Teaching classes requires me to do extensive research in current scholarship and current events, lecture organization, composition, administration and grading of assessments (both exams and essays). I also guide small-group discussions of specialized historical and anthropological scholarship outside of class. I have passed the NES/AEPA subject area exams in Human Geography, History, and Political Science, and I am far along in the process for Teacher's Internship Certification. While teaching at a university over a four-year span, I worked with a broad range of undergraduate students who hailed from diverse backgrounds. I taught non-degree freshman and upper-class history majors as the instructor of record in history courses and both halves of the world history survey. In this capacity, I worked with students using primary sources and advanced secondary sources. I concentrated on encouraging my students to practice critical thinking skills through close reading of historical sources, as well as to contemplate historical connections across national boundaries. I also worked as a graduate assistant for classes on colonial and modern U. S. History, as well as U.S. Women's history. From 2012-2014, I mentored and tutored for undergraduate students with learning disabilities and student athletes, acquainting them with the expectations of the academy and introducing them to university resources, study techniques, and the work of scholars in a variety of disciplines.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Typically, in a first session with a student, I try to get a sense of their larger experience with academics, and their other commitments, assess their learning challenges, and become acquainted with the goals of their class and their progress through it.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
A few activities help students become more independent learners. Providing positive reinforcement for concrete successes is one part of this, but so, too, is imparting the understanding that learning is a trial-and-error process. Therefore, failure should be understood as part of learning, and of improving one's understanding and articulation of the relationship between ideas. If students are aware of the importance of failure in progress, they become less afraid to experiment on their own and more apt to move forward in their learning. Practice, too, is key to movement towards learning autonomy.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I try to help students stay motivated by connecting their learning to prior learning and with concrete experiences from their own lives. This might involve references and examples connected to contemporary politics and pop culture, or from prior classes. Also, I can use examples from a variety of learners to argue for the importance of persistence and perseverance to academic success.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
There are a variety of ways to deal with learning obstacles and challenges. First, I find it useful to break up larger problems and concepts into their smaller constituent components to make them more comprehensible. Second, I use many examples and work hard to come up with metaphors and comparisons to the students' own experiences. Third, I give the student wait time, or time to work through the problem or concept in their head, without the pressure or expectation of an instant answer. Fourth, occasionally, a small break can help moving toward a goal.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
A variety of strategies can help aid reading comprehension. First, I ask if the student is writing notes for their reading. Writing notes often encourages students to read their texts more closely, especially if their note-taking includes a summary component. To this end, I advise students that even writing questions in their margins can help a better engagement with the texts. Second, I recommend that students reading large textbooks look to their chapter objectives, subchapter headers, and table of contents to help organize their reading. Third, reading a passage aloud can sometimes facilitate comprehension, especially done with a partner or tutor. Four, occasionally reading programs, whether based on MS Word, or otherwise, can help with this problem.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I like to get acquainted with my student's interests and passions, so I have a better idea how to frame my questions and connect their learning with their own experience. I will provide my own background and tutoring philosophy, so that they know what to expect. Learning of students' challenges is also helpful, as well as their time constraints. Often, working students and those in time-consuming extracurricular activities such as band, athletics, or Mock Trial have to more intensively assess their priorities than, say, undergraduates with less-intensive schedules.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
My initial assessments of student interests and continuing learning of their passions often helps me make comparisons and connections with material in which they are struggling. I also try to encourage students to persevere through positive reinforcement based on concrete progress, and clear assessments of their strengths. Focusing on incremental progress helps students recognize their victories and build upon them in a solid way.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I ask students to summarize concepts in their own words and provide examples of them in order to verify their comprehension and understanding. Also, useful to assessing a student's understanding is to request that they connect concepts to ones they have learned earlier in their course.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I build a student's confidence in a subject by providing positive feedback and recognizing their victories. These victories could include any of the following: a concept that the student proves that they know, an improvement in their quiz grade, or a discussion of a teacher's compliments in the margin of a student essay. Testing a student's comprehension also demonstrates student competence. I also take a long-term view of student progress and will remind students of their improvement over time.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Often, a student can provide an idea of what they need, and their relative strengths and weaknesses. Nonetheless, to complement this approach, I evaluate a student's needs by trying to assess how they perform in different classes, on different assignments, and in the course of completing different student assessments. Part of evaluating a student's needs requires a straightforward discussion of what can be done in any given tutorial, so that the time can be best used to attend to the needs of a student.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
One of the ways that I assess student needs is by trying to engage a variety of different learning modalities. So, while I started my tutoring career long ago by engaging students only in the auditory and verbal modality, I now engage other modalities. I like to draw diagrams depicting relationships between ideas and concepts, act out historical scenarios, and ask students to portray relationships in a variety of ways. I change my pace and different levels of discussion according to the situation and level of background knowledge, as well.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Since I have worked as a university-based tutor for all of my tutorial career, I have been required to use the materials provided by instructors to help students, as well as all others that fit within the requirements set forward by university codes of conduct. I have drawn upon other supplements to classroom materials, but never to circumvent the reading and other tasks required by instructors as outlined in their syllabi. It is only once students have demonstrated that they have completed or tried to complete the required material that I move on to supplements such as YouTube videos, additional reading, and online demonstrations.