Where It All Begins . . .

OK, here's the deal: I want you to be successful in my class. For that to occur, you need to open your mind to some new ideas and concepts. This can only happen if you're willing to do your part. I promise you that I will do whatever is needed to provide you with all the tools to learn, but I need YOU to do the work that will be assigned. Be forewarned; if you have some sense of entitlement and expect to get spectacular grades without doing the work, you will be very disappointed with the results. When I was a child, I was told success only comes before work in the dictionary, and I've found these very pragmatic words to be entirely accurate over the years. Whether you learn this lesson now or at some later point in your life is something that, ultimately, you'll decide. I hope you choose the former and not the latter, but in either case, I promise to do my utmost to see to it that you are getting the most that my class can offer.



Be Part of Our Community

If you're experiencing issues and concerns about your particular course, take the time to share your concerns with me. Either talk with me after class or send an email. I promise that I'll listen to your concerns and do my best to assist you in any way I can. I want you to feel that my class offers a safe and nurturing environment, so please reach out to me if you feel you're on the fringes of our academic community.

Teaching Philosophy

It is safe to say. I'm not the same teacher I was when I began my career; my teaching philosophy has evolved in many ways over the years. Innovations in educational technology and the changing expectations of students made me realize that if I were to remain relevant as an effective educator, I needed to be resilient. A classroom teacher should not use "an old map to explore new lands." And while I fully embrace the idea of reinventing myself when needed, my core beliefs about teaching and learning have never changed. I also feel strongly that being a teacher is not just what I do. It defines me as a person: it is who I am.

The way I see it my mission is a teacher center on three essential items:

Creating a positive learning environment;
Nurturing an enthusiasm for learning;
Establishing the foundation for lifelong learning.

All, easier said than done! What I have found helpful in meeting these goals is to never rely too heavily on one teaching strategy, and wide variety is required. We can never stray too far or lose sight of essential educational principles that utilize encompassing cognitive functioning. We must stay informed of any new ideas related to learning theory, diversity issues, and instructional planning and assessment. Then when necessary, we must choose meaningful ways to use these resources in the classroom.

As educators, we must consider the cognitive functioning of our students before we implement and apply strategies that are proper for both concrete operational and/or formal operational students. In my experience, brief writings work best to help decide the cognitive levels of my students, and it is a valuable guide allowing me to craft my instruction appropriately. To not follow this course of action leaves too much to chance regarding learning outcomes.

When it comes to learning theory - how students receive, process, and retain knowledge during learning - we must consider several factors. The cognitive, emotional, and environmental influences of our students and their prior experiences all play a part in how their understanding is acquired or changed and knowledge and skills retained. Behavioral theory, for instance, offers many principles that may be used in a classroom learning and management setting. Cognitive learning principles also offer us neuroscientific contributions regarding memory systems and "active processing of intellectual operations." We know how much students enjoy think-pair-share, classroom jigsaw activities, and constructive controversies. Their use provides a meaningful and enriching classroom experience.

My major at Columbia University was American Studies with a concentration in Ethnicity and Race. As a result, I am acutely aware of cultural diversity in my school and my classroom in particular. Being keenly aware of cultural diversity and my understanding of group culture and student learning style have shaped my approach as an educator. Knowing both the learning style of individual learners and the cultural diversity of the class or group can assist educators in cobbling together a custom and practical lesson by utilizing the correct classroom strategies. We must design lessons using the research-based learning cycle. This allows for a variety of effective strategies to be used that can engage individual preferences, accommodate diverse learners, and aid in establishing a respect for disparate perspectives and preferences.

A critical consideration for educators is the overall curriculum and instructional planning. No matter the instructional approach, whether it is based on a behavioral model, a cognitive model, or a constructivist model, it is essential to plan and implement lessons that clearly identify the lesson objective, anticipatory set, strategies for effective student engagement, and proper and appropriate assessment to measure student mastery. This goes a long way in ensuring that the lesson being taught is clear and meets its goal of reaching students.

Assessments always seem to be a very controversial subject. Over the years, many students and parents have commented on the type and frequency of assessments and how that leads to "test anxiety." I firmly believe test anxiety declines significantly if the class is structured so that assessments are given at regular dates or intervals so that all students clearly understand when the next assessment will be. It becomes incumbent on the teacher to be sure to reach meet those deadlines. Regarding the assessments themselves, a teacher should use the many options available to teachers to accurately assess student understanding of course content. Alternative types of assessment that use rubrics, checklists, projects, portfolios, performance/diagnostic checks, presentations are a great way to "mix things up" for students who are very used to traditional exams/test construction. Based on my experience, based on past results, I am convinced that varying the type of assessment used in class leads to many more successful outcomes.

Let me be clear: Being a teacher is not just what I do. It is who I am. Being a life-long learner and sharing my passion for teaching and learning, and my ability to employ these principles with enthusiasm and empathy helps me genuinely connect with learners. What is important to me, and what I strive to do consistently, is to teach with clarity, share my passion, empathy, and sincere enthusiasm. This behavior effectively impacts learners and will hopefully connect students to their 'passion' and invite them to become lifelong learners.