I attended Occidental College with "Barry" (now "President") Obama as the Class of '81. He may have been a little smarter than me, but I was a much better basketball player. In my 27 years as a teacher and tutor, I have taught everything from kindergarten, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th (my favorite), 7th and 8th grade -the latter two in math and science. I spent six years as a mentor teacher and have been twice named a Johns Hopkins Teaching Fellow. My classroom was once part of a major feature on Good Morning America. I was a special education coordinator for two years and even served as an assistant principal. I specialize in K-8 math (particularly algebra and prealgebra) and language arts (with an emphasis on reading and writing).
I oppose virtually everything going on in public education today with all this standardized-testing, profit-making nonsense. I feel it is hurting children. Teachers are spending so much time trying to teach children the correct test answers, they are not developing the deeper academic skills students really need to be successful. Your child may be struggling academically just because so much time is spent "teaching to the test" to say nothing of all the time "test-taking" itself. Your child may also hate school (or particular subjects) as a result of this testing obsession.
I believe in developing creative, divergent and critical thinking. I believe in developing expression, both orally and in writing, especially in writing. I believe you can't have the latter without the former, a revelation few teachers today realize. My goal is to give children a unique and powerful voice, especially on paper, with a powerful mind behind it. When I teach math, I try to teach it not just as a series of skills and/or steps, but as a way of thinking. As a teacher, I try to build upon children's strengths while calling attention to and developing their weaknesses. I respect children enough to be honest with them. Weaknesses are to be embraced and not feared.
I embrace failure as an integral part of the learning process. True and lasting self esteem comes not from constant praising of success. True self esteem is developed by providing children with truly challenging tasks, teaching them not to fear failure, allowing them to fail every now and again, then picking them up, dusting them off, and letting them take another swing until they hit a home run. Rather than tell children smart they are, I create an environment where they struggle to accomplish something truly difficult and wonderful, then sit back, look at them, and say, "Well take a look at that. Take a good look at what you just did. How great is that? I thought you said you couldn't do it."
You get big smiles.
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