From the time I was 4 years old, I knew I wanted to be a teacher.

I set up my enormous doll collection, from shortest to tallest, on the floor along the wall of our dining room every morning. I propped the mini chalkboard my parents had bought me on a chair at the front of the classroom, and set to work teaching the day’s lesson.

My passion for teaching has never waned since then. Whether my students were junior high kids, adults upgrading their high school courses, university professors, or community learners, the thrill of helping people learn remains a deeply satisfying experience for me.

Over the years, I discovered that no matter who my students were or what the subject was, there were certain basic features of teaching that produced positive results for many of my students:

– Getting to know them and their interests, strengths, challenges, and fears so I could tailor what I was teaching to who they were

– Linking new material to their previous experiences so they could make it meaningful for themselves

– Letting them know that I planned to learn along with them

– Involving them in claassroom decision making and offering choices in materials and assignments

– Looking for alternative ways to help them learn if the first way didn’t work

– Pointing out their small victories and encouraging them to take the next step