My Biography / Teaching Philosophy
It is my belief that the first two things a child needs in order to thrive in school are a sense of safety and a sense of belonging. Every student comes with a different set of skills and abilities, but they all have these first two needs in common. So, fostering a safe (physically and psychologically) and fun place for kids is my first objective. Every student must feel important and relevant to our classroom community. This usually only takes a few weeks in the beginning of the year.


Once that is established, I pay close attention to the ever-changing needs and abilities of the students to be sure they are receiving instruction that is sufficiently challenging without being overwhelming. One of the ways I accomplish this is by differentiating instruction in my classroom. Students who are below grade level receive extra support and are expected to practice the skills I teach them while I work with other groups. Likewise, students at or above grade level will be given work that is more challenging and enriching. I expect students to cooperate to solve problems and to become independent thinkers. All this requires students to take charge of their own learning while I am with other groups. Therefore, trustworthy behavior is extremely important.

Children learn best when they are given the tools they need to succeed and are guided in how to apply them. The tools I hope to develop for your child include (but are not limited to) how to:

  • speak with confidence
  • listen to others attentively
  • justify her opinions
  • explain his thinking strategies
  • challenge others respectfully, and
  • alter his own position when being persuaded otherwise. 

I like to design my lessons so each student receives a new "tool" each day to help her become a strong thinker and do-er. That means I have to design instruction at a level that is rigorous and challenging, yet is sufficiently supported for his level of need.

Since I expect my students to communicate their thinking with one another, both verbally and in writing, the classroom climate must be safe and nurturing. We all have bad days and can get grouchy once in a while, but seeing the best in one another and keeping an encouraging attitude makes for a healthy and productive learning environment.

Random trivia about your kid's teacher:

  • I was a horrible daydreamer and my report cards always said, "I can't seat Mike next to the windows."
  • I was a B student most of my pre-college years, but I worked hard for them! Years later, I realized that letter grades and intelligence were only mildly related.
  • I liked novels, poetry, art, and biology. Love of mathematics came later. Much, much later.
  • If I could draw, I was happy.
  • I liked weird "alternative" classes like taxidermy and lapidary. The only time I ever thought I was cool was when I made that bolo tie out of a Tiger's Eye. (Of course, that didn't last long...)
  • When my 6th grade teacher Mrs. Laffin smiled at me, I felt ten feet tall.
  • Best school memory from my boyhood is sitting in my high-school art class making pencil sketches while the teacher played Pink Floyd's The Wall.

If you need to reach me during the school day, please leave me an email at