From 2018 to 2022, I served as the Secondary STEM Coordinator at Saigon South International School (SSIS) in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. In this role, I taught courses in App Development, Advanced Automation, Robotics and Engineering Technology. From 2016 - 2018 at SSIS, I taught the following in the mathematics department: IB Mathematics SL, AP Calculus AB, Precalculus, and Algebra 2.
During my time there, I coordinated the VEX robotics program, the first in Vietnam. We were invited to attend the VEX World Championship in 2018 and 2019 to represent Vietnam.
From 2010 to 2016, I taught at the Hangzhou International School in Hangzhou, China. My courses there included IB Mathematics SL & HL, IB Physics SL & HL, 9th grade math, robotics, and Web Design & Programming. Our school participated in both the FIRST Tech Challenge program and the FIRST LEGO League programs.
I taught biology at the KIPP NYC College Prep High school during the 2009-2010 school year. From 2003 to 2009 I taught Integrated Algebra, Math A, an engineering elective, and AP Physics B at Herbert H. Lehman High School, a public high school serving 4,000 students in the Bronx, NY.
I attended a Montessori school from kindergarten through the sixth grade. I picked what I worked on, and when I worked on it, and in doing so, developed an appreciation for learning independently. When I moved to a more traditional program for middle and high school, I came to understand the difference between knowledge and critical thinking in a challenging set of courses that included AP mathematics and physics. Though memorization was part of my learning process there (and had not been at Montessori), the primary goal remained far beyond this: to learn to think, solve problems, and see every mistake as an opportunity for growth. I majored in Mechanical Engineering at Tufts University before beginning my teaching career as a New York City Teaching Fellow. Both of these programs demanded I devote significant time to tinkering, creating, and learning through iteration. From walking into my first classroom in the East Bronx at the age of twenty-two to giving advice to the graduating seniors of the class of 2015, I have enjoyed reinventing myself each year and sharing my enthusiasm for learning with a new group of students.
The net result of my different experiences teaching and learning is this single discovery: there are many different ways to learn, different environments, and different pathways students can take to reach the goals of a given school. There is no one silver bullet – no program, no school structure, no curriculum that will work for every student.
What all students do need, however, is to develop into independent learners, feel comfortable making mistakes, appreciate useful feedback, and seek work that is meaningful. As a teacher, I plan my time carefully and deliberately to maximize learning opportunities around these needs. This might take the form of whole class discussions or small groups of students analyzing problem solutions. It might also be a lesson learned from tweaking a design for a robot at competition or from seeing a newly designed part being created on a 3D printer. My use of technology centers on its use for collecting, organizing, displaying, and calculating, as these tasks are what computers do best. This allows me to spend the valuable and limited time that I have with my students on analyzing, evaluating, and communicating – the skills that will have lasting value for students after they leave my classroom.
I am always seeking new ways for students to examine what they know and what they understand, and then share that understanding with others. The pursuit of finding the best ways to do so has become the focus of my time spent planning and growing as an educator.