I believe that a teacher’s input can help students reach their highest potential. This understanding leads me to set high expectations for my students in and outside of the classroom.
What area do you teach?
French (all levels)
BA in French Education K-12; Oklahoma Baptist University, May 2004
MA in French with an emphasis in language teaching; University of Missouri - Columbia, Missouri, May 2010
PhD in French literature with an emphasis in 19th century history and literature; University of Missouri- Columbia, Missouri, May 2016
Your philosophy of teaching:
Teaching is a remarkable and multi-faceted profession that challenges yet benefits the educator. In a job where no two days are alike, the teacher must be a creative artist and a detailed scientist, combining all of his or her knowledge and skills to reach a desired outcome. Personally, my long-term goals for my students are: that they understand written and spoken French; that they are able to use written and spoken French in a variety of situations; and that they develop an understanding of and sensitivity to the various cultures around the world that use this language. Keeping these goals in mind, each day I am able to creatively design lessons that make French accessible to my students. Being a teacher allows me not only to dissect the ins and outs of the French language, and develop expertise in areas which before had only been interesting to me, it also permits me to share this information with others and observe them as they make these discoveries for the first time. I benefit from my profession because it encourages my creativity and critical thinking. I enjoy the challenge and the multiplicity of my profession. More importantly, however, teaching benefits the student. When in a classroom where their interests are peaked, their abilities are noticed and their many skills are engaged students can learn and produce much. Throughout my years of teaching, I have developed certain beliefs about students and how they learn. These beliefs affect how I approach teaching.
First, a student’s motivation is the number one contributor to his or her learning. This belief drives me to create lessons that are not only informative and useful but also engaging and diverse. I start to develop lesson plans by considering the desired outcome. (“At the end of this unit/week/day/etc., students will be able to…”.) Once I have established a learning objective, I commence lesson planning, keeping the necessary information in mind while inventing new possibilities for student engagement and interaction. I combine grammatical, historical, literary and cultural information in my effort to make French more than simply words on a page or facts in a textbook. My eagerness for French also contributes to my students’ motivation for language and culture study. It is thus important that I show enthusiasm for each subject matter I introduce.
Every student learns and processes material differently. While some students learn best through quiet study and focus, others prefer to talk through concepts with others. Some students appreciate rote grammatical activities because they aid them in the memorization of required material and give them a sense of control over the language. Other students detest this type of mechanical activity and prefer using the language creatively to author their own stories, prepare presentations or skits, direct group videos or even develop language-learning games. More and more students appreciate using new technologies to aid in their learning process, while some still prefer former ways of digesting material. Keeping the differing preferences, strengths and weaknesses of my students in mind, I propose a variety of instructional methods, in-class activities and at-home assignments. By developing activities that require multiple senses and skill-sets, I can ensure I am teaching to the needs of each student in my classroom.
Language learning requires attention to multiple skills. My proposed classroom activities include each of the four language skills: listening comprehension activities with videos and sound-clips; reading comprehension activities from inside and outside of the text; writing activities including grammar worksheets, group and personal creative writings (short stories, skits, etc.), and specialized writing tasks such as summary, paraphrase and even translation. I also want to encourage active use of spoken French, and for this I include many guided group activities, individual presentations, short group performances and presentations, in-class debates, and more. I also address the students in French before and after class, as well as in “casual conversation” during class while they are getting into groups or changing places in order to demonstrate and encourage the use of spoken French in a less formal setting. This variety not only keeps the students interested and alert, but it also allows them to develop a flexibility with French so that they can use it in differing milieus.
Every minute of a class period is a teachable moment. This conviction encourages me to effectively plan my use of class time to ensure the maximum possible impact. When covering new material, I consider the most efficient way to do so. My instruction methods vary from the use of interactive lectures combined with visual aids (PowerPoint presentations, short notes on the chalkboard, handouts with blanks which the student must fill in, etc.), group inductive reasoning activities and even readings from relevant sources. In addition, variation of in-class activities and an equal balance of the four language skills, as mentioned above, allow for maximum language practice in my classroom.
I believe that a teacher’s input can help students reach their highest potential. This understanding leads me to set high expectations for my students in and outside of the classroom. I expect their maximum participation while they are in the room with me, and I encourage their best effort on each and every homework assignment. My written feedback is thorough: I point out their error patterns; make notes on how they can improve; praise them for the things they do well; and offer clear justification for the grade they receive. On formal writing assignments, I encourage students to write a second draft after receiving feedback on the first. Demonstrating to students the necessity of taking ownership and pride in their work is one way I hope to reach out to them. In this way, I believe my classroom and teaching philosophy will impact my students not only in their future academic life, but in their careers and personal projects as well.
Finally, by showing genuine interest in student success teachers can touch student lives in and out of the classroom. I maintain a professional relationship with my students, but I make sure to show them that their success is important to me. My students can come to me for French help outside of class time, whether during my office hours or not. I answer emails promptly and address each concern the student brought up in his or her message. I encourage my students to participate in French and francophone activities outside of the classroom such as movie screenings, restaurant openings, conversation clubs and especially study abroad. I have written countless letters of recommendation, sponsored student clubs, and even traveled in the US and throughout Europe with multiple groups of students. Spending time outside of the classroom with and for my students, allows them to see that my interest in their learning is genuine, and this genuine interest touches their lives even beyond the boundaries of the school.
Being a teacher allows me to creatively develop valuable and memorable lessons for my students, based on a subject matter about which I am passionate. Teaching also allows me to encourage my students to reach their maximum potential as well as to discover their academic and personal strengths and interests. I believe that lessons learned in a classroom stay with students long after the course comes to an end. That my university students often tell me stories from their middle-school and high-school French classes attests to this. I therefore consider seriously the time I spend with my students. From lesson planning to in-class activities, from choosing homework assignments to grading exams, from answering students’ emails to traveling abroad with them, I find that the many facets of the teaching profession make it a challenging job but also a very rewarding one.
Why did you decide to teach?
I do not remember making a decision to teach, but I do remember always wanting to grow up and be a teacher. To repeat from my philosophy of teaching : I find that the many facets of the teaching profession make it a challenging job but also a very rewarding one. Being a teacher allows me to creatively develop valuable and memorable lessons for my students, based on a subject matter about which I am passionate. Teaching also allows me to encourage my students to reach their maximum potential as well as to discover their academic and personal strengths and interests. I believe that lessons learned in a classroom stay with students long after the course comes to an end. Therefore, I consider teaching as one of the most important careers in the world - and for me, the best career!
I have been an enthusiastic language teacher since 2004, after I received my BA in French Education from Oklahoma Baptist University. For one year after graduation, I lived and taught English in France in two elementary schools, then returned to the US to teach all levels of French at a high school in Tulsa, Oklahoma where I stayed for three years. In 2008, I left high-school teaching to attend graduate school at the University of Missouri, and I obtained my MA in French with an emphasis in language teaching in 2010, after which I continued on to my doctoral degree. During my dissertation work, I returned to France where I lived and worked for three years in two Parisian universities. I completed my dissertation, and received my PhD in French Literature in May 2016 from MU. The topic of my dissertation was: Representations of Marie-Antoinette in 19th-century French Literature and History. I am thrilled to now be a part of the language faculty at Southeast!
Living in France and teaching English for a total of four academic years
Teaching all levels of French for three years at a magnet high school in Oklahoma.
Recognized by Southeast Missouri State University’s Student Government for passion
for education and ability to insipre sutdents; May 2017
Bonnie Zelenak Award for Excellence in Tutoring for my work at the Writing Center at the University of Missouri; May 2016
Organization with which you are involved
American Association of Teachers of French
Most Recent/Notable Published Work
“Le mal de siècle dans René de François-René de Chateaubriand et dans Ourika de Claire de Duras” in Romaneske
Best advice for students
When choosing a major, consider this: Which school subjects allow you to explore and pursue ideas about which you are passionate ? Which subjects, when you are studying them, do not feel like work? Which classes to do look forward to attending and why? Answer these questions for yourself and you will have a clearer picture of what sort of academic path you want to follow. This path will lead you to your future career.