I am a dynamic teacher with twelve years of experience fostering a love of Latin in my students and motivating them to maximize their potential as scholars. I believe that students thrive and succeed in an environment where everyone feels valued and respected. This has been my guiding principle as a teacher, tutor and as a department chair.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Rutgers University-New Brunswick - Bachelors, Classics, German
Graduate Degree: University of Georgia - Masters, Latin
cooking, traveling, art history, running
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My philosophy of teaching is simple. Students thrive in an environment where they feel respected and valued. As teachers, our words can give students the confidence to try something new and the strength to challenge themselves. It is the responsibility of the teacher to accommodate and to adapt himself to the diversity of personalities and learning styles in his class. In doing so, he can guide everyone entrusted to him to success.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Students become independent as they become more confident. As a Latin teacher, it is important to help each student establish a firm foundation in the basics of Latin grammar. Latin requires careful thought and analysis. There are many questions that need to be asked when analyzing the grammar of a Latin sentence or passage. As students get used to these questions, reading becomes easier. As reading becomes easier, students develop an ability to read the text on a deeper level. They are able not only to translate, but also reflect upon the text and make an independent interpretation. That is why we read ancient texts. They have perennial value. It is the goal of the teacher to lead each student to this gift.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
A teacher has to be patient. There is an expression that goes "all roads lead to Rome". There is not just one way to learn; a teacher has to adapt himself to the student with whom he is working. It is very important to keep the student motivated.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Positive reinforcement has been my most-used strategy. It encourages the students to challenge themselves, and it also creates an environment that fosters enthusiasm for the subject.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
My first goal would be to start thinking positively, and to look at the situation as a challenge that we will overcome together. I would then assess the areas of difficulty, and I would create lessons adapted to the learning style of the student. The exercises should also be creative.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I ask questions frequently to see if the student understands why they arrived at the correct answer. I also create drills and assessments to reinforce what we have reviewed.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I build a student's confidence through patience, kindness, and giving them the tools to succeed independently.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Every student learns differently. This understanding comes after meeting with a student and identifying their strengths and weaknesses in the subject. As a Latin teacher, I would look at the student's ability to apply rules of grammar, as well as their skills in reading.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
It is different in every case. One year I taught a girl who really struggled with the cases in Latin I. She was from Poland, and English was her second language. I knew Polish had a similar structure of using endings to identify the subject, direct object, etc. I began to teach myself some basic Polish so I could show her the similarities. It worked, and she became very successful. A good teacher simply has to adapt himself to each student. When a student struggles, the teacher must find the unique means that works for each individual.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I would need to see the student's textbook and workbook to see how the textbook presents grammar. I would also use whiteboards and markers for exercises. I would also look at the student's class notes to see if we could learn how to take more effective notes.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
The first session is very important because a good first impression is necessary for bolstering the student's hope that they can and will succeed. After the introductions, I would ask questions about the student's Latin class, what they are working on, what they like best, what challenges them, etc. I would then make a series of exercises based on the student's text to assess the student's abilities.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Positive reinforcement is the best way to keep a student motivated. The more a student is motivated, the harder they will work and succeed. Attitude has a great deal to do with success; one has to want it. If there is a will to do better, the student will apply themselves with more care.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I would ask a student to read each sentence one or two times before trying to translate it. Latin uses endings, not word order, to express whether a noun is the subject, direct object, indirect object, etc. During the second reading, the student should focus on the endings of the words in the sentence. I would then ask questions about the text to help them understand the grammar. Once this is clear, we would read the sentence again and translate it. Latin requires careful thought and analysis. Over time, students remember the questions I ask them, and they are able to read with more success and better comprehension.