I am a professional development coach for middle and high school teachers. Implementing a student-centered coaching model, I work side-by-side with teachers to identify student achievement goals and research-based best practices that will lead to student success. I reach more educators across the nation with online coaching sessions that are job-embedded, ongoing, convenient, and prompt deep reflection with the use of classroom video.
I currently work as an Instructional Support TOSA at a medium sized school district just outside Portland, OR. I focus on helping secondary educators (grades 6-12) design instruction that differentiates for each student’s assessed rate and level in a heterogenous classroom setting. I partner with teachers from all content-areas to ensure that each student has daily opportunities to learn something new and push their thinking to grade level and beyond.
My book, Hacking Graphic Novels: 8 Ways to Teach Higher-Level Thinking with Comics and Visual Storytelling, from Times 10 Publications’ Hack Learning series, is available now on Amazon. I also write for Book Riot, where I discuss my reading life, raising an avid reader, and offer diverse book recommendations. I write regularly about teaching and learning for popular educator sites like Edutopia and Cult of Pedagogy.
For four years, I traveled the country facilitating professional development and coaching literacy educators, including those teaching core English Language Arts, ELL, and reading intervention courses. Partnering with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, I helped schools implement standards-aligned research-based curriculum in diverse classroom settings. My partnerships with districts in over 20 states led to dramatic reading gains for tens of thousands of students.
I currently consult with individual teachers and schools who are seeking literacy professional development, particularly regarding elevating instruction using comics and graphic novels, supporting English learners develop academic language skills, and differentiating instruction to ensure each student is learning every day at their current rate and level. Contact me to inquire about literacy support.
I am the Director of Curriculum for Reading With Pictures, a leading non-profit promoting and supporting the use of comics and graphic novels in classrooms. I create study guides for comics and graphic novels, I have developed curriculum for tutoring and curriculum organizations world-wide, I created and facilitated teacher professional development courses for some of the nation’s largest K-12 learning companies, my AP English exam guide was published by McGraw-Hill Education, and I help organizations ensure their assessment items are accessible and fair to all students.
I have 15 years of experience teaching English Language Arts, AP English, Writing, Effective Communication, and English as a Foreign Language. I have worked in public high schools in underserved communities and colleges in the US and abroad.
I have also spent many years working as a highly effective test prep tutor in the US and in Asia, specializing in helping students with learning challenges manage anxiety around performance on high stakes exams. I believe assessments are only valuable when they are culturally responsive and used for learning. I help students learn content and practice skills they must demonstrate on exams as they seek a variety of opportunities, but I do not endorse the use of tests as barriers to entry.
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, and where I wouldn’t single out students to speak for their entire race or culture during a discussion of a “diverse text.”
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 my class 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 to work 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 worked 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 partnered one-to-one with teachers as their instructional coach. I learned to practice deep listening to follow a student-centered coaching philosophy that ensured our conversations stayed focused on what students can achieve. I had the opportunity to support teachers in a variety of environments – rural small town districts in the Great Plains, Indian Reservation schools, underserved districts in high poverty areas, language immersion schools, and more. With each partnership, I learned more about how to meet the diverse needs of our nation’s children. I observed teachers who disrupted my own biases about each community’s unique assets and the impactful role they could play in their students’ lives.
After 15 years of teaching in different capacities, several years of instructional coaching, and a decade of parenting, I now have a clearer sense not only of what I won’t do in a classroom, but what I intentionally will do. I aim to establish a learning environment where all students feel safe enough to take intellectual risks. I prepare students to engage with ideas, people, and texts that may appear uncomfortably unfamiliar at first. I provide support so that all students can reach academic and social-emotional goals that are meaningful to them.
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.