What do you do to engage your students? What makes your classroom unique?
I think the most important thing I do to engage my students is to get to know them and their interests. I can then tailor my teaching to what they like and provide examples of how they can use this information in their lives. When a teacher shows an interest in their students' lives, their students will always respond positively. I have also worked hard to incorporate more student collaboration time and less "teacher talking" time. I encourage my students to display their knowledge in a multitude of ways.
Why do you think it's important to teach the way you do?
I teach all electives so my classes have to be relevant and interesting. I always use current events and examples in teaching to show students that what they are learning can be impactful in their lives.
What do you feel is the most exciting thing about teaching?
I get great satisfaction when a student tells me they used something in their lives outside of school, like choosing a bank, setting up their home network with advanced security, fixing a computer, etc.
What singular lesson plan, activity, assignment or experiment do you return to year after year because of its "spark" factor with you and/or your students?
Last year I started a "Can I Afford It" unit in my Money Management classes. It's based on what Suze Orman would do on her television show. My students have to look into the future 20 years and come up with a snapshot financially and personally. They then have to prove to their classmates (not necessarily me) that they can afford something like a vacation or second home. It forces students to use everything they have been learning regarding mortgages, car loans, student loans, credit card debt, taxes, etc. It is very fun and interesting and all the students are engaged. They take great pride in approving or denying a classmate and explaining why. We've had some interesting ideas brought up that have lead to spirited debates!
Tell us a little more about yourself.
I graduated from Hauppauge High School on Long Island. I graduated Hofstra University with a BBA in Business Management in 1994, and again from Hofstra with a MSEd in 1996. This is my 19th year of teaching, all at Glens Falls. I earned my National Board Certification in 2009, and completed my Work Based Learning Certificate in 2015.