Philosophy of Education
Im a big fan of teenagers. I love their snarky energy and the way they question the value of every task assigned. But I also love the way they become excited about learning something new and being able to show off their abilities, particularly when their mastery of skills allows them to pursue knowledge beyond established expectations.
My first teacher was my older sister. She was seven, I was five and she taught me everything she learned in the 2nd grade. Every day, after school, she would start by saying that this stuff was probably too hard for me because I was just a baby. The most important lesson I learned from that experience was to tell students, I dont know, this may be too difficult for high school students. They almost always try to prove me wrong.
Several years ago, I incorporated Homi Bhabhas Location of Culture into my curriculum. His writings about the conflict between how one self-identifies and how one is identified by others seemed a perfect platform to explain literature to teenagers. It gave my students new insight into stereotypes common in our culture. With the addition of Saids Orientalism and his discussion of The Other, students were then able to participate in roundtable discussions, often continuing their discussion in the hall on their way to the next class. I realized then, how important fostering an atmosphere of student ownership really is.
One of the greatest lessons I learned from my daughters pre-K teachers was the importance of constantly growing as a teacher/learner. I barely resemble the teacher I was five years ago. Since that time, Ive read more diverse and interesting authors, some of whom were recommended to me by the passenger on the plane in the seat next to me. In an effort to further my own life-long learning, ten years ago, I took up the violin. I saw first-hand what a struggling student goes through and just how important patience is to successful teaching.
I believe educators should create a safe space for students to take academic risks. Teachers should be able to move beyond their own preconceived ideas and be open to what their students think. Often, students insights are shallow and pedestrian. But given enough opportunity, they will stumble across a truly remarkable idea that proves to them and their teachers that they are capable of sophisticated insight. Equally important, I think it is critical for teachers to streamline student work, particularly by taking advantage of cross-curricular assignments, to reduce student stress.
The amazing teachers of writing I have known have always appreciated the psychological barriers students face. Nothing is scarier than the blank page. Therefore, teachers must encourage students to write beyond the stale prose with which they feel safest in order to find their own voice. Perhaps one of the most important gifts an English teacher can impart to his or her students is a love of research and an excitement for writing about it. This is the advice I give young teachers: be patient, have enthusiasm for your subject matter, and remember that even gifted students are afraid of being wrong.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Oklahoma State University - Associate in Arts, English
Graduate Degree: Tulane University of Louisiana - Master of Arts, English
Violin, classical and Cajun, writing, quilting, knitting, cooking, New Orleans Saints
High School English
High School Level American Literature
High School Writing