“Let us remember: one book, one pen, one child and one teacher can change the world.”
My Background and My Why:
My first experience with progressive education was when I was thirteen. Dissatisfied with the education I was receiving in public school, I ended up enrolling in a small, private, progressive school for high school (to see their website go to https://oakgroveschool.org/).
All the things that had bothered me about public school were different there. Students had a say in what they studied and how they studied. Teachers were genuinely concerned about each one of us as a whole person. Problems were discussed with us in a rational manner instead of adults using authoritarian methods to try to force us to comply. As a result, there were rarely problems to begin with. I had found what school should be!
Initially, I wanted to teach public school so I could bring progressive ideas and make change. I made some headway at my school, but realized that this might not be the best avenue. Also, I wanted to have children of my own. I ended up leaving after five years teaching fifth grade.
As I was raising my children, it slowly became apparent that they had some learning differences. They were eventually diagnosed as autistic. We tried many school options, and homeschooling was one of them. They were both back in school for high school, but I found that homeschooling was the only option available that was progressive and had options for children with learning differences.
Through all of these experiences, I developed my own teaching philosophy.
Teach conflict management & problem-solving instead of punishing children
Everyone should be treated with dignity and respect - adults and children alike
Individual attention and accommodation for specific learning and comfort needs are important for everyone
Encouraging students and focusing on what they're doing well can quickly gain their trust. Once they trust, they feel safe to take risks. Finally, when they take risks, they learn more quickly and deeply than before. If they had lost confidence in themselves, their confidence returns. If they had confidence, it grows into leadership.
All students (all humans, really) must learn new things. Instead of presenting it as: you are ignorant and dumb; your errors show that you don't know this. We can simply bring it to a student or group in a mini-lesson as something we want to share with them. There is no need to scold them for not knowing it before, even if you are aware that they have had this lesson in prior months or years. Our brains don't hold onto everything the first time.
Another key is choice. I let students decide things for themselves as much as possible. What are their interests? How do they prefer to learn? Is it time for a break? Do they want to continue this project, or do they want to stop and switch gears for a while?
There is no need for grading because the parent or guide teacher is checking in with them the entire time. If their goals are not as you would expect, you can discuss them. Changes can be made along the way according to your home or school guidelines. You will help your student set themselves up for challenge and success if needed. Students will be encouraged in whatever they do.
An encouraging, positive approach is effective with children from diverse backgrounds with differing needs. I believe in tailoring instruction to the individual.
Parents are also a vital part of the decision-making, especially when the child is in the elementary years. As they mature through the middle and high school years, there will be a slow letting go as the student is able to take more responsibility for academic decisions.
CREDENTIALS HELD CURRENTLY:
Professional Multiple Subject Teaching Credential - Elementary
Crosscultural Language and Academic Development Certificate
Level 1 Certified Handwriting Specialist with Handwriting Without Tears
Encourage Elementary Education Services
2017 - present; also taught classes at A-TEAM through Spring 2020
San Jose Unified School District
Substitute Teacher, elementary
Ocean Grove Charter School, San Jose
Education Specialist, all grades
LEAD Center/Liber Community School, Los Gatos
Math & Music Teacher (all grades)/Core History & English Classroom Teacher (4th-6th)
San Jose State University 1993
Teacher Education Program
California Institute of the Arts 1990
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music Composition
My full resume is available on LinkedIn.
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison