Upper School

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Doug Sept

Upper School Director, Director of College Counseling, Summer Program - College Prep
Master of Science, University of Kentucky
Bachelor of Science, Missouri University of Science and Technology

Students must feel comfortable before they can learn. I expect my classroom to be an environment where students are allowed to take risks. I look for situations when I can look at a problem for the first time with students and model for them how to try and potentially fail in finding the right solution, only to rebound and try new ideas
- Doug Sept

I do not simply teach mathematics; I teach students. I teach students to become critical thinkers, to accept and overcome frustration, and to feel confident in proposing solutions. I teach students about the importance of honest self-assessment, how to celebrate accomplishments, and when to humbly admit that they are having difficulties. I teach students to take the time to listen and value other ideas, to respectfully disagree, and how to act when someone else disagrees with them. I teach students to use their resources and to master appropriate technology as well as to discern when to forego technology because they have the internal tools to solve a problem. In order to accomplish all of this, I use mathematics as the primary vehicle.

Students must feel comfortable before they can learn. I expect my classroom to be an environment where students are allowed to take risks. I look for situations when I can look at a problem for the first time with students and model for them how to try and potentially fail in finding the right solution, only to rebound and try new ideas. I applaud students who find my mistakes, be they intentional or accidents, because having them critique my work builds in them the ability to scrutinize their own.

I believe that homework should be a safe place to make mistakes. After learning about a new concept, the initial homework assignment involves students checking their own answers. I let the students know that immediate mastery is not the goal, but that attempting every problem is what is important. During every class period, there is a time for students to ask questions as a whole or as individuals. When I informally assess that a certain level of mastery has been reached by the majority of students, I formally assess them through a quiz. If a few individuals struggle, I work with them one-on-one to increase their understanding and confidence. If the majority of the class struggles, I discern what I could have done differently and implement an alternate approach to teaching the material.

Building genuine relationships with students is paramount to successful teaching. Although the focus of our initial relationship is through mathematics, I need to show that I care about them as a person outside of their mathematical performance. I greet students by name as they arrive in class and wish them a good day as they leave. I also acquaint myself of their involvement in activities both in and out of school. This allows a common ground for discussions beyond mathematics – talking about a recent athletic event, an impressive piece of artwork or creative performance, or simply asking what they did that weekend and listening to and caring about their answer builds a personal bridge through which great learning can happen.

Overall, I expect my students to leave my class having mastered the material and prepared themselves for future mathematics courses, but I also expect them to leave my class having learned how to be better, more confident learners in all areas.

Dan Raffety

Upper School College Counselor & Social Studies
Master of Arts, St. John's College
Bachelor of Arts, Connecticut College

When I first meet with students at the beginning of the school year, I make it a priority to understand them as individuals. The more I know about their strengths & weaknesses and more importantly their interests, the better I am able to relate historical material to them and help them hone the skills involved in social studies.
- Dan Raffety

As a history teacher, my major goals are to improve students’ knowledge of the world (both ancient and modern) and to help them see how the experiences of others relate to their own lives. I also want them to understand how the world affects them and how they affect it. Given that I was educated at institutions that were liberal arts intensive and emphasized Socratic and discussion based techniques of pedagogy, my teaching methods are rooted in these areas. However, after 8 years as a teacher, I have employed many different strategies to engage students with a variety of learning styles. From project based learning, the utilization of primary sources, and Power Point lectures that better engage visual learners, I have developed an array of techniques to reach students of different abilities and strengths. When I first meet with students at the beginning of the school year, I make it a priority to understand them as individuals. The more I know about their strengths & weaknesses and more importantly their interests, the better I am able to relate historical material to them and help them hone the skills involved in social studies.

One part of my class that I believe to be extremely important is the research paper. Las year students selected current events topics of their choice and explored them through research that culminated in an argument based paper. Topics ranged from Palestinian Archeology to body image issues to gun violence in schools. The assignment provided students with an opportunity to engage with topics that interest them and to develop thesis statements regarding these subjects. I believe that it is crucial for students to develop well informed opinions regarding the world around them and to dig deep into topics that are prevalent in history and current events to inform their understanding of the world.

Kelley Fluegel

Upper School Administrative Assistant & Registrar

There are not many opportunities in life to be surrounded by people of all ages striving to do their best each day. What makes being part of Elgin Academy rewarding and exciting for me is knowing every morning our community wakes up with the intent of creating a day better than the one before
- Kelly Fluegel

Katherine Kruse

Director of International Studies
Bachelor of Arts, Northern Illinois University
Master of Science, Northern Illinois University

I am passionate about fostering cultural diversity through student exchange and international education. It is my mission to enhance cultural perspectives, mutual respect, and global responsibility through building programs and services for the development of international students, local students and the greater community of Elgin.
- Katie Kruse

Mary Bayer

Upper School Theater & History, Middle School Theater, Summer Program - Musical Theater Camp
Master of Science, Illinois State University
Master of Arts, St. Mary's University
Bachelor of Arts, Saint Mary's University

My role as an educator is to help each student become a life¬long learner—one who is always questioning and seeking, posing new problems and formulating creative solutions, one who digs deeper and reaches farther to find the answer, but understands that the process of seeking the answer is more important than the answer itself.
- Mary Bayer

I believe this would be my role regardless of what subject I teach. As a theatre teacher, I facilitate an appreciation for learning on a daily basis, as students in my classroom explore theatre through a variety of lenses—not just performing, but also theatre history, design, script analysis, directing, and criticism. Through this broad exploration of the art form, students gain an understanding of the collaborative nature of theatre, as well as form a basis for life­long appreciation of humanity's most personal and living form of artistic expression.

In my classroom, I value the unique contributions of students and help them start from where they are, understanding that not everyone has the same level of theatre experience or innate ability. Students often feel vulnerable or unsure when asked to express themselves in ways that are asked of them in a theatre class. In order to make my students feel safe, I strive to establish an atmosphere of respect, fun, and collaboration in my classroom every day. This helps students set aside fears of personal weakness and creates a platform for bold exploration. By creating an an environment where students feel safe being themselves, my classroom becomes a place where they feel that they can take risks with artistic and emotional expression, make and grow from mistakes, feel comfortable giving honest and kind feedback to others, and be able to hear and implement feedback in their own work.

In my classroom, students engage physically with the material on a daily basis. Theatre is the art of doing, as the most basic vocabulary of the theatre demonstrates—act, play, imitate...A theatre artist's medium is not paint or clay, but rather physical action. Because of this, physical engagement is one of the most important aspects of my teaching. In a typical class period, I am on my feet the whole time, and I try to get the students on their feet as much as possible, whether for physical and vocal warm­ups, monologue and scene rehearsals, or acting and directing exercises. Even in more academic lessons, such as theatre history, students are asked to engage physically as well, by taking written notes, moving around the classroom to work with different discussion groups, or to examine historical contexts through experimental means; for example, when studying the question of the real authorship of Shakespeare's plays, the students physically create a mock trial where the question is debated in a classroom “courtroom.” By physically experiencing the material in my classroom, students gain a more complete understanding of that material.

A student who has completed a theatre course with me will leave with not only a specific set of artistic skills that can be used to approach a play in the future, but also expanded concrete knowledge and practice at in-depth analysis. Students must learn to see plays as ways to tell story, create character, investigate thought, speak and hear prose and poetry, move fluidly, and interact with architecture. They must be able to think critically and combine those elements in ways that create meaning. In all of my classes, we practice writing, because writing teaches students to articulate ideas in a clear and persuasive manner. In addition, reading as much as possible increases student exposure to the larger field and its connection to other disciplines. I base nearly every unit of my classes out of a dramatic text, regardless of what age of student or area of theatre being studied. For example, when studying theatre of the English Renaissance, we read A Midsummer Night's Dream, explore the historical context in which it was written, look at theatre production elements of the time, analyze and perform acting scenes from the play, and design sets and costumes for each students' own hypothetical production. In another course, the students rehearse and perform a ten­minute play, as well as complete a character analysis based on a study of the text. In both cases, the script becomes the gateway to the examination of theatre through several different lenses.

Students who make and interpret theatrical art are learning to interpret the world around them on a much broader stage than just the one in the school. By teaching theatre, I teach students to question the world around them, to investigate the implications of all performed culture, to come up with creative solutions to dramatic problems, and to think critically about not just art, but about their world.

Marie Cinquemani-Thomas

Upper School Music & Hilltop Coordinator, Middle School Music, Choir Director
Bachelor of Music, DePaul University

We have a saying in Room 301: What Happens In The Music Room, Stays In The Music Room. The end result is students who are willing to take risks, and are willing to push themselves beyond their comfort zone. This translates into growth as a musician as well as a student, and a person.
- Marie Cinquemani-Thomas

Every music student has the capability to be successful, whether it is on a personal, academic, or performance level. As a music teacher, I set my expectations high; at times higher than the students themselves may think they are capable of achieving. Whether the students achieve the stated goal at “face value” is not the point. It is through the process, the journey, that the student discovers their voice, their art, and themselves.

As both a middle school and an upper school teacher, I have the opportunity to teach many of my students for eight years. This longevity builds trust, and allows me to create on the students’ knowledge base. Each year I generate a new curriculum based on the students that are in my classroom at that time, taking into consideration their individual skill sets. I adapt as much as possible to the individual needs of my students.

My Introduction to Fine Arts Music classes create individual portfolios that help them track their growth in musicianship, and help them to begin to reflect on their role in the learning process. At the end of each quarter, parents are also asked to review the portfolio with their child and reflect on the strengths, and the areas that need to be addressed in their son or daughter’s learning.

My choir concerts are not typical of what you would find in a conventional middle or high school music program. Instead, I create my choir programs around a specific, selected genre. This approach allows the students to be immersed in a specific style for many weeks, and creates time for them to explore the social, economic and political connections to the songs they are learning. I have created concerts ranging from “Music of Afrika and the African American Tradition” to “American Folk Songs” to “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” At times I will program a major choral work such as the Faure Requiem or Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, and these choices are always driven by the changing skills and needs of the students.

The study of music in general, and singing in particular, is personal. Students who learn to sing can become vulnerable during the process, as it involves much more than learning a basic technique, it involves learning to communicate emotion through their physical apparatus. As a music teacher, I guide my students through this process of self-discovery. As a young high school student I remember being terrified to sing in front of others, and struggling with basic musicianship. My own experience with performance anxiety and my personal struggle with music theory gives me a unique understanding of the challenges my students face.

I create a fun and playful atmosphere where my students can explore and create. I share my own personal experiences as a professional singer with them (the amazing performances as well as the embarrassing incidents,) so they feel safe enough to fail with reckless abandon. We have a saying in Room 301: What Happens In The Music Room, Stays In The Music Room. The end result is students who are willing to take risks, and are willing to push themselves beyond their comfort zone. This translates into growth as a musician as well as a student, and a person.

Veronica Clements

Middle & Upper School Videography, MS Girls Soccer Head Coach
Bachelor of Fine Arts, University of Illinois

My passion for learning is what inspired me to become a teacher. I want to ignite that same passion in my students in a way that inspires them to create visual media beyond what they thought was possible for themselves.
- Veronica Clements

When I came to Elgin Academy as a student in the ninth grade, I was ready to work hard but I was very unsure of what goals I was trying to accomplish because I saw a separation between what my true dreams were and what I thought I was supposed to do. It was through my teachers at Elgin Academy and their fierce encouragement and support that I was able to realize I was both capable and worthy of achieving my dreams. The teachers and faculty believed in me more than I believed in myself, and they saw something in me that I was not able to see yet. That is exactly why I want to be a teacher, especially at Elgin Academy. I will believe in my students and push them to create media artworks beyond what they thought were possible by working together through creative teamwork.

As a videography teacher, I believe it is my responsibility to give students a visual vocabulary for them to be able to articulate what they see and feel in a new way. Through this vocabulary, they will be able to effectively create meaningful videos, drawing from critical film knowledge and their own innovative techniques. Some of the best teaching advice I have received is, “Whoever is working is the one who is learning,” which is how I want to manage my classroom. I want to provide resources, art, and film examples to students that inspire them to use the camera in new ways in order to produce and edit their own stories. I want my students to look at the world differently, see art in the ordinary, and find inventive ways to create and problem solve. It is my job to provide students with context of what they’re learning and the work they are making, which in turn shows them how media effects the way history is shaped. It is important for me to help my students understand the power of film and its impact on the world and the gravity of the expectation for authenticity. Through the study of film and media, both historically and contemporarily, students will gain a visual understanding of the topics covered in their other classes as well as an insight into the way the film industry has evolved and who has typically been included and excluded from the narratives. I want students to be able to empathetically tell a story.

My teaching style is something that is in its early stages of development. I know I can learn a lot from my students and I am eager to do so. My passion and excitement about art and its historical and contemporary influence will be contagious. My students will be exposed to a variety of different camera, editing, and compositional techniques and strategies and will learn about how they developed and why they are important. From there, students will be expected to work in groups and on their own to demonstrate understanding in the way that excites them. I want my class to provide students with the knowledge and understanding of visual topics in order to serve as tools in strengthening what they are already passionate about or as a way of realizing a completely new creative outlet. Through collaboration comes success, and through laughter comes healing. I want my students to see that having fun and working hard should be of equal importance when expressing themselves. Through working together in each process of production, students will grow and learn from each other. Through projects that push them to create art out of each moment, they can see beauty in mundane and excitement in uniqueness. I understand students know how to use technology, so it is my goal to teach them how to use their eyes in a new way and that preproduction is most important.

When my students create visual media that innovatively combines strategies they learned in class with their own passion and explorative techniques, I will know I have accomplished what I set out to do as a teacher. When my students are able to watch a film or visual media and critically understand and engage in a dialogue about the goals of the creators and the techniques used to achieve these goals, I will know they understand the difference between how they truly feel and how effective visual communication makes an audience feel. I will know my students have grown when I see them talking about who and what is left out of the conversation or media, and creating their own works that push to progress limitations in current visual consumption. Most importantly, when my students are having fun creating with each other, I know I am being an effective teacher.

Frank Hering

Upper School English
Doctor of Philosophy, University of Florida
Master of Arts, University of Florida
Bachelor of Arts, University of Chicago

I lead the class in discussions that develop close readings of passages, through which we build an understanding of themes and how the author explores them; characterization, particularly the characters’ motivations; and narration, including the advantages and disadvantages of different perspectives. This method requires students to be active: to read on their own, to articulate their ideas to others, to think about other people’s contributions, and to build ideas while revising them.
- Dr. Frank Hering

My goal is for students to acquire advanced literacy skills and (ideally) interests in reading, thinking, and communicating.

On most days, students should expect challenging and engaging reading assignments, which we will discuss in the next class period. On some days, I lecture on the writing process (brainstorming, drafting, revising, and editing for correctness and style) and grammar conventions. The study of each novel will culminate in each student writing an argumentative essay that raises a question that does not have an easy answer, states a thesis that answers the question, and argues for that thesis in paragraphs, each of which has a main point that is supported by quotations and interpretations of details.

The majority of the time, students sit in a big circle so they can make eye contact with whomever is speaking. I lead the class in discussions that develop close readings of passages, through which we build an understanding of themes and how the author explores them; characterization, particularly the characters’ motivations; and narration, including the advantages and disadvantages of different perspectives. This method requires students to be active: to read on their own, to articulate their ideas to others, to think about other people’s contributions, and to build ideas while revising them.

Less often, I lecture to present students with knowledge (historical contexts, philosophical ideas, myths) that I want them to use while reading, discussing, and writing. When I do lecture, I teach the students how to take notes.

By the end of the US English program, students should be able to read sophisticated literary texts in a variety of genres, think about what they read in complex ways, participate in a discussion, and write a short argumentative, literary critical essay.

Professional Experience:
English Teacher, Elgin Academy, Elgin, IL, 2004-present.
Designed And Taught:


English 11: American Literature
English 9

English Teacher, St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School, Alexandria, VA, 2000-2004.
Designed And Taught:


English 11: American Literature
English 9 and English 9 Honors
Newspaper

Graduate Assistant Instructor, University of Florida, 1996-2000.
Designed And Taught:


Consumer Society and 20th-Century American Literature: 4th-year English majors
Issues in 19th-Century American Literature and Culture: 2nd-year college students
Special Topics: “Writing and Social Change”: 1st-year college students
Writing about Literature: 1st-year student
Argumentative and Expository Writing: 1st-year students

Related Training

"World War 1: Lessons and Legacy of the Great War" with John Connor, University of New South Wales: Canberra (Australia), FutureLearn. Certificate of Achievement.

"Anthropology of Current World Issues." Fall 2016. On-line (edX) with Gerhard Hoffstaedter, University of Queensland, Australia. Verified Certificate.

"Homo Floresiensis Uncovered: The Science of 'The Hobbit."" Human Evolution Course. Summer 2016. On-line (FutureLearn.com) with Richard Roberts, University of Wollongong, Australia. Certificate.

"Calvin: Histoire et reception d'une Reforme." Winter 2015. On-line (coursera.com) with Christophe Chalamet et al, University of Geneva. Certificate.

"The Music of the Beatles." Fall 2015. On-line (coursera.com) with John Covach, University of Rochester. Verified Certificate.

"The History of Rock: Part I." Fall 2015. On-line (coursera.com) with John Covach, University of Rochester. Verified Certificate.

"The Bible's Prehistory, Purpose, and Political History." Summer 2014. On-line (coursera.com) with Jacob L. Wright, Emory University. Certificate with Distinction.

"The Fiction of Relationships." Summer 2013. On-line (coursera.com) with Arnold Weinstein, Brown University. Certificate with Distinction.

"The Ancient Greeks." Spring 2013. On-line course (coursera.com) with Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, Wesleyan University. Certificate with Distinction.

"Greek and Roman Mythology" in translation. Fall 2012. On-line course (coursera.com) with Peter Struck, University of Pennsylvania. Certificate with distinction.

"Virgil's Aeneid" in translation, August 2012. On-line course with Susanna Braund, Stanford University.

"Postmodernism," Lawrence University, July 2008. Week-long course covering foundational postmodernism theory and emblematic postmodern novels.

Multicultural Seminar, St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School, June 2003. Seven three-hour sessions and one day-long retreat; required readings and project.

Stanley H. King Counseling Institute, Colorado Springs, CO, August 5-11, 2002. Learned how to use counseling skills in working with students on normal developmental issues.

Publications

Levels of Understanding: The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Sallinger. Prestwick House, 2011.

Advanced Placement in English Literature and Composition Teaching Unit: Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Prestwick House, 2011.

Multiple Critical Perspectives Teaching Unit: Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Prestwick House, 2011.

Levels of Understanding: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Prestwick House, 2011.

Advanced Placement in English Literature and Composition Teaching Unit: Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. Prestwick House, 2010.

Multiple Critical Perspectives Teaching Unit: Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. Prestwick House, 2010.

“Sneaking Around: Idealized Domesticity, Identity Politics, and Games of Friendship in Nella Larsen’s Passing.” Arizona Quarterly (57.1) 2001.

Reform and Resistance in American Literature. Dissertation. University of Florida, 2000. Ann Arbor: UMI, 2000. 9984427.

Ivonne Hopkins

Middle School Spanish, Upper School Spanish
Master of Arts, Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara
Bachelor of Arts, Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara

I teach with a communicative approach in mind because my goal is for my students to be able to communicate effectively in Spanish. I want my students to acquire a broader vision of the world and to understand other cultures. This will make them more tolerant and open-minded.
- Ivonne Hopkins

Being a teacher has been an incredibly rewarding experience and I have learned immensely from my students. My views have changed and evolved as I have been exposed to different types of learners. These changes are evident in my teaching philosophy.

I teach with a communicative approach in mind because my goal is for my students to be able to communicate effectively in Spanish. Since the first day of school, even if they have never taken Spanish before, we start talking. I teach them how to say their name and how to greet people in Spanish. For each level of Spanish I teach, I do activities that are appropriate such as talking about the summer or describing a person.

I want my students to acquire a broader vision of the world and to understand other cultures. This will make them more tolerant and open-minded.

I encourage students to use the language as often as possible. I have useful daily phrases in Spanish posted in the classroom as a reference for them to use, for example, "May I use the restroom?", "Can I see my grade?", or "How do you say ____ in Spanish?"

I want my students to feel empowered by this new language. I do not want a group of kids listening passively in class. I want them to acquire a new tool to express themselves. It is a gradual process to be able to say all that needs to be said, but at least it is not a passive one, instead it is an active involvement in the learning process.

My students can expect a supportive, understanding, caring teacher. They will get their questions answered and I will provide the tools they need to be able to perform. I care about each individual student and I want him/her to succeed. I strive to give them every opportunity to learn and to be proud of what they can accomplish with the language.

My view of teaching has changed dramatically with experience and exposure to different types of students over the last twenty five years of my life.

I have worked for a number of different schools in Mexico and the U.S. I have learned to understand individual needs and the concept of "fairness". I learned more about students' needs and real fairness in a Special Education class that I took in 1999. It opened my eyes and helped me see the classroom in a different way. Each student is a unique individual with specific needs and abilities. I get to know my students and I endeavor to help them develop their skills to their full potential.

Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to work with many different kinds of professionals that have inspired me, taught me new approaches or teaching techniques, and shared their experiences. One of the pleasures of being a teacher is to be surrounded by smart, highly educated people from whom I can learn constantly.

Susan Howe

Middle & Upper School Classics, US Driver’s Education
Bachelor of Arts, Wesleyan University
Master of Arts, National Louis University

Allen Funt (of Candid Camera fame) used to say that when people are smiling, they are receptive to anything you want to teach them. Laughter brings walls down and allows learning to happen, but not only that, it is the relief from anxiety that laughter brings that is conducive to learning. As a teacher, I believe it is my role to establish a safe classroom environment, provide resources and direction, provoke curiosity, and prepare students for their adult lives in whatever small ways I can.
- Susan Howe

Allen Funt (of Candid Camera fame) used to say that when people are smiling, they are receptive to anything you want to teach them. Laughter brings walls down and allows learning to happen, but not only that, it is the relief from anxiety that laughter brings that is conducive to learning. As a teacher, I believe it is my role to establish a safe classroom environment, provide resources and direction, provoke curiosity, and prepare students for their adult lives in whatever small ways I can.

Education itself should, at its root, be teaching and preparing students for life after school. As a Latin teacher, practical applications of my subject matter are harder to spot than I would like, so what I strive to teach is thinking. If we can teach students to think for themselves and learn across media and content area and think laterally, we will be creating responsible and independent adults.

I believe effective teachers lead their students to learning by being learners themselves and that they encourage progress, praise successes, and guide students to overcome obstacles. My educational philosophy is that a teacher must strive to capture the imaginations of students through engaging lessons and a true wonder in and excitement for the material. I want my students to find humor in my class and derive a sense not only of success but also of satisfaction and joy in the learning itself. The goal is to find what it is in each student that will open his or her mind to an appreciation of knowledge and understanding of how he or she, individually and in groups, can make a tremendous difference in the communities of which he or she chooses to be a part. My job as a teacher is not only to teach the content in class, but also to teach a passion for the pursuit of learning. I want the connections between ancient and modern life to be made clear but I also want to show how learning an ancient language is an avenue through which students can take responsibility for their own learning and become active in their own education.

Far too often, Latin is dismissed as esoteric, but the diagnostic skills required to parse a sentence are the same skills required to parse current events. My hope is to arm them to think critically about language and through that to teach them to think critically in other spheres of life. I want my students to leave my class with an understanding of Latin and with a smile!

James Kidston

Technology Director, Upper School Computer Science
Master of Arts, University of Chicago
Master of Business Administration, University of Chicago
Bachelor of Arts, University of Michigan

The short version; My goal as a teacher is to make myself unnecessary. The long version; My philosophy of teaching is pretty simple. I believe, first, that every student in my classes can be successful.
- Jim Kidston

That doesn’t mean that the material is easy, or that every student can earn an A. It does mean that every student can end the year feeling that they’ve worked hard, wrestled with some challenging problems, learned a lot, and had fun doing it. Second, I believe that dedication and hard work matter more in determining a student’s success than native ability. Third, and most importantly, I believe that students learn by doing, not by listening to me.

Therefore, in all of my classes, I try to spend as little time as possible standing at the front of the class talking. Instead, when I introduce a new topic, I give a brief overview and a few examples, answer the first round of questions, and then give the class some problems to work on. While they work, I walk around, fielding questions and looking over everyone’s shoulder. If I see someone struggling, I either pull up a chair and help, or ask another student to go help. That way, I try to give each student the amount of assistance he or she needs, but no more. I want the students to think things through for themselves as much as possible.

In fact, I think the best answer I can give to a student’s question might well be “in a minute.” I’ve found that when I do that, by the time I get to them, they’ve often either figured the answer out for themselves, or they’ve asked a classmate. Either way, more learning has happened than if I’d just come right over and answered the question. Even if I do come right over, I seldom just answer the student’s question (even if I can). Instead, I ask questions or suggest things the student might try in order to figure out the answer for himself or herself. Again, I tailor my approach to the individual student and the specific situation. If the student is struggling and getting frustrated, I may just tell him what’s wrong. On the other hand, if a student is capable of thinking a problem through and is just trying to avoid having to do so, I may offer encouragement but little or no information. It all depends on the student’s abilities, habits, and situation.

As much as possible, I try to get students to help each other, since this is good for the helper as well as the helpee. I try to give everyone a chance to be a helper, and I also try to keep an eye (or an ear) on the interaction to make sure it’s heading down a productive path. Since it’s common for several students to have the same problem when they’re writing programs, I will often work through it with the first one, and then delegate him or her to help the next one. That way, I’m sure the first student knows the solution, and has also seen an example of how I would approach the situation. Working through it a second time also helps the first student solidify his (or her) understanding.

Since they will be doing a lot of it, I talk with the class early on about how to help others. Showing the other person what you did is off limits, as is doing any typing for them. The goal is to figure out what the other student is trying to do, and then help him get that approach to work.

Gina Kietzmann

Upper School Math & Psychology
Master of Science, Northern Illinois University
Bachelor of Science, Northern Illinois University

The overall goal I have for my students is to be immersed in the types of thinking involved in a discipline by examining assumptions and exploring the patterns that emerge from playing with ideas. I feel as if I am successful with students when they can think through a new concept without my guidance. They will be actively engaged in making connections between the written, visual, real world, notational, quantitative, and kinesthetic representations of the idea.
- Gina Kietzmann

The first hints of my teaching philosophy began on my childhood porch where I taught “school” to my four younger brothers. I no longer set up my classroom in rows but I still care about how each individual is building his/her knowledge. This process became clear to me once I learned about Piaget’s theories on the developmental nature of cognitive growth. My work as a research assistant taught me to listen to each student carefully in order to form the next question I would ask to help move the learning process forward. Teaching preservice elementary teachers gave me an opportunity to learn how to ensure everyone is learning in the classroom by creating a peaceful environment where students are expected to make connections among the various representations of a concept. My years teaching adolescents in an independent school have strengthened my belief in the power of creating knowledge with others.

The overall goal I have for my students is to be immersed in the types of thinking involved in a discipline by examining assumptions and exploring the patterns that emerge from playing with ideas. For example, when teaching geometry I may put a definition on the board and ask students to draw the concept, share them on the board, eliminate those that do not apply and then work with a partner to create theorems in notation and words involving the new vocabulary. An example from my psychology classroom occurs when I ask students to explain why someone may be shy. I have my students write down their thoughts individually, meet with a partner to build upon their ideas and design a study to explore their predictions, and then share their thoughts with the entire class. Many times my students tell me they do not like missing my class because of the interactive nature of my teaching.

I feel as if I am successful with students when they can think through a new concept without my guidance. They will be actively engaged in making connections between the written, visual, real world, notational, quantitative, and kinesthetic representations of the idea. They will also be exploring the historical, technological, emotional, concrete and abstract representations. They will do this individually and with others in a curious manner.

Jamie Lau

Upper School Science, Technology Support
Master of Science, University of Michigan
Master of Education, Penn State University
Bachelor of Arts, Johns Hopkins University

My hope is that all of my students leave my class with a better appreciation of the world around them. I want them to see that what we are learning does not only exist in the small bubble of the classroom, but how it expands far beyond that.
- Jamie Lau

I’ll never forget that moment. I was in high school, sitting outside the chemistry classroom studying before class started. Suddenly, everything just clicked. I looked around, and realized that everything I was looking at were not only simple atoms, but everything I was looking at was made up of only three simple particles - protons, electrons and neutrons. How could everything we touch, see, feel, and taste be made out of combinations of only these three simple things? I was hooked. I wanted to know more. For the next several years, I immersed myself in the worlds of science and math, soaking up every bit of information I could from my teachers, and fell in love with learning.

As a teacher, my ultimate goal is to share that love with my students. My hope is that all of my students leave my class with a better appreciation of the world around them. I want them to see that what we are learning does not only exist in the small bubble of the classroom, but how it expands far beyond that. Even if my students don’t choose a career in math or science, the problem solving skills they learn in these classes will apply to many aspects of their life. I also want my students to get hands on experience in learning to solve problems. In chemistry, students will spend time in the lab, working to solve problems. In math, students will be working to model real-life scenarios.

I want my students to learn about the world around them. In the classroom, I often use guided inquiry learning to help students learn how to question the information they are given and analyze data to form their own theories. Guided inquiry learning allows students to summarize, analyze, and evaluate different ideas in the world around. This helps students not only learn the fundamentals but also helps them achieve higher order thinking skills. In this process, students work in small groups and are supplied data or information and guided questions to help them formulate their own valid conclusions. This process is followed by class discussion to help secure these ideas and allow students to ask any lingering questions. This process allows all students to be actively engaged in discussion and learning.

In addition to hands-on and group learning, I also believe in the use of computers and other mobile devices as mindtools. Mindtools are any tools that are used to help increase cognitive function. Technology is ever increasingly a part of our daily routine, and it is important to find ways to use technology in a productive manner. In chemistry, Vernier LabQuests and probes are used to help get the most accurate data possible and to allow for easy visualization of trends. Students in my classes will also get the opportunity to use several other online programs, including GoogleDocs, Prezzi, and VUE, a program that allows for content and concept mapping.

My ultimate hope every year is to help students gain a better understanding of the world around them. I want students to use personal discovery to learn new concepts and skills that can help them grow in math, science and all other areas of their life.

Bud (Francis) Mathieu

US Science
Bachelor of Science, University of Illinois
Master of Arts, National Louis University

"Science reveals the workings and laws of the natural world, while biology explores the wonders of life in that same world. My students will discover through multiple experiences both the wonders of nature as well as the means that humanity has, through science, to preserve nature."
- Bud Mathiew

Rebekah Moe

US Math, US Girls Soccer Assistant Coach
Bachelor of Science, Northern Illinois University

I want my students to enjoy learning math. I want them to master the concepts, but I don’t think that learning must come through just one method, but a combination of techniques. I want the students to learn how to properly use technology as a tool to support and verify their learning.
- Becky Moe

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