instructional coach / curriculum specialist / professional development designer & facilitator/ former English teacher & tutor/ author
On this site, I share resources for teachers and parents who are helping young people build a love for deep, critical reading and well-crafted purposeful writing. I reflect on recent education and cognitive science research, classroom practices, coaching conversations I’ve had with teachers, true stories of over a decade of working with students, book talks I’ve had with young readers, and my own questions about instruction.
More about me
In 9th grade geometry, we were seated in groups and expected to collaborate to solve problems out of a textbook. Without much direction beyond that, we mostly worked out problems independently and silently. One of my group members consistently mumbled under her breath about how she didn’t “get any of this stuff.” Each time she sighed, no one responded. Finally I asked, “What part don’t you get?” After a few more questions and a little modeling, she said, “Wow, I learned more from you than I have all year in this class.” And a teacher was born.
For the rest of high school, I saved every assignment I found stimulating, planning to assign it one day to my future students. I thought deeply about why I wasn’t learning or engaged in certain classes but fully invested in others. Why was I skipping Algebra 2 to read Shakespeare in a bathroom stall? I saved these observations for that future classroom, where I wouldn’t just teach to the front row and expect everyone to “keep up,” where I wouldn’t announce test scores to the whole class to shame students into “trying harder,” where I wouldn’t lower my standards so all students got an A but couldn’t say what they learned how to do.
After several years in college and grad school as an SAT teacher, and a stint in Japan as a college instructor of English as a Foreign Language, I finally got my own high school classroom. I put a Rushdie quote on the wall, I curated a classroom library out of whatever I could find in the old building’s storage closets, and I wrote a letter to my students promising that they would leave the year with a favorite book and strong opinions.
I went on to teach high school English in two New York City high schools, I authored a test prep book for the AP English Literature exam, spent a few years (in the US and abroad) adjuncting at colleges and universities while designing curriculum as a freelancer, and returned to SAT/ACT test prep as a staff trainer and consultant.
When I became a parent, I left the classroom and worked with students one-to-one, appreciating the opportunity to customize learning experiences to each individual student’s needs and interests.When there’s only two of you in a room for an hour, there are no distractions. My class isn’t too big, my curriculum isn’t too narrow, I’m not preoccupied by a million other tasks or limited by an antiquated bureaucratic education system. With one pure hour of learning through conversation, relationship building, relevant and responsive instruction and meaningful practice, you can change a student’s entire learning trajectory.
In 2016, I became an education consultant who facilitates professional learning sessions for English, ELL, and reading intervention teachers. I work with an instructional design team to create professional development experiences that engage participants with research-based best practices, opportunities for reflection, and collaboration. After large PD sessions, I work one-to-one with teachers as their instructional coach. I practice deep listening as I follow a student-centered coaching philosophy that ensures our conversations stay focused on what students can achieve.
I’ve been around the world as a teacher, consultant, and coach. I’ve worked with thousands of students and hundreds of teachers. And I am still learning a lot every day about the complex work of educating young people. Visit me on this site to learn along with me.