I am an educational consultant, tutor, and classroom teacher in Northern New Jersey. I have had the pleasure of teaching grades 8-12, but have the most experience with upperclassman. The past four years I have spent teaching AP Literature and AP Language as well as American Literature and enjoy every minute of it! Teaching AP has allowed me the opportunity to find new styles of teaching and truly develop my scaffolding skills immensely as I currently work in a lower socio-economic district where the students generally don't come to my class having the foundation they need to succeed on the AP exam. Throughout my career, I have taught in school districts ranging from the wealthiest to some of the poorest. I've come to realize that no matter where I teach, students all have similar needs, many of which boil down to wanting a safe space where they can explore their own opinions and desires. Owning my own tutoring and college admissions counseling company, Achieve Success Academy has broadened my knowledge of what students actually need to learn, and the most effective ways to guide them toward their own authentic success. When I'm not coaching, teaching, or tutoring, I'm either blogging, working on my first book for teachers, or developing teacher resources. I absolutely love what I do and feel blessed to have so many different opportunities presented to me! It is my goal to help teachers breathe a little easier and work towards the common goal of changing students' lives and experiences both in and out of the classroom!
My teaching style is laid back, outside the box, yet expectation driven. It took a while for me to find the courage to teach in this authentic way. Often, this means not following the guidelines I was taught in my formal training and listening to my own instincts. I spent many years teaching the way I was "taught": Do Nows on the board, strategic group work, guided reading questions to coincide with reading assignments, reading check quizzes, formal assessments. While these all led me to success as a teacher, I felt like I was missing something--students were coming into my classroom, doing their assignments (most of the time) and leaving. I was craving a stronger connection--a human to human relationship, not a teacher-student relationship. I soon decided to trust my instincts more and be more daring in the classroom. While reading literature and writing is still a focus, I work diligently to create meaningful connections to my students' lives. These connections have been successful because I've humanized myself. I am honest to a fault--I tell my students when I am experimenting, ask for honest feedback, and admit when something isn't working, sometimes stopping the lesson immediately. I believe this has created an authentic classroom where students truly believe I care about them, not just covering the content, where students feel safe enough to speak their truth, where students can come for 42 minutes a day and know that not only do I want them to invest in their education, but in themselves. I love teaching this way, I love conducting seminars where I say nothing and have them all find the truth on their own, I love allowing students to choose who they work with--none of this happens on the first day of school, there is some setup of expectations, but once the students start taking ownership of the curriculum, it brightens my heart and invigorates my passion for teaching all over again. I feel blessed to have the classroom I have and hope my resources will help you find your own authenticity in the classroom as well.
The biggest honor I receive comes when students are graduating high school. I have received so many letters thanking me, not for teaching English, but for teaching students how to look at things in a new way. It fills my heart with so much love and appreciation as I read how students have found joy in analyzing literature and how those skills have prompted them to begin looking at their own lives. Many of my AP students are more interested in science and math and plan to pursue those fields in college, but they share with me that my classroom has given them an appreciation for literature or a different outlook on life. I also frequently hear from students their fall semester of college thanking me for all the writing I had them do, that they see the benefit of it now that they are in college. This fills my heart and drives my passion more than any other distinction I could be given. It also makes me feel like the countless hours I spent grading those writing assignments were worth it! I have also received formal awards from my district, specifically being named the B.E.S.T. teaching of the month and letters commending me on the improved testing scores on both PARCC and AP exams. These honors are greatly appreciated, although I'm sure you share in my opinion, pale in comparison to hearing a "thank you" from a student.
* New Jersey teaching certification for English Language Arts 6-12 * M.A. in Teaching * B.A. in Journalism--concentration in print
I have a blog on my tutoring/college admissions counseling website, Achieve Success Academy which I hope can help you in regards to test prep and the college admissions essay. I also have a teacher-centered website ClassroomShare which over the course of the summer will be up and running with free resources on how to create an authentic classroom. I hope you enjoy it and find my resources helpful!