If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be and why?
I would be an explorer that boldly goes where no woman has gone before. Otherwise I would be a cello player, playing music that sounds something like a combination of the rhythm of Talking Heads and the lyrics of Muse.
What’s your earliest memory of “teaching”?
I was working as an intern on a reservation in Arizona. I was jumping and drumming at the same time on the trampoline with a severely autistic child. My skirt fell down while I was drumming and the occupational therapist, laughing hysterically, asked me, what I was doing. And I said, I am drumming to his beat. And she said, “That’s impossible! They only copy.” I told her, “No, I am drumming to his beat.” That was my first experience as a facilitator, following their beat, not mine, and in that I got him out of his world, which they thought was impossible.
What’s your favorite thing about the subject you teach?
I love giving our youngest students opportunities to express their minds and ask a question, and to be able to pause and hear where they are coming from. You get a glimpse of how brilliant they really are when you just listen to them.
Do you have any memorable teaching moments when you realized your student(s) had “gotten” it?
We made a brain out of materials we found in the classroom, pillows, a flashlight, a hula hoop, etc., and we were endeavoring to show them what focus in the frontal lobe would look like. One student was asked to find something in the room he wanted to focus on, and we put that item into the made-up frontal lobe. Using the flashlight, we demonstrated thoughts flashing through the brain. The children were so engaged that they kept asking us to do it over and over. Whenever children are so engaged in a lesson, I know that I have connected with them and that great learning has taken place. That way, the whole class gets it in the end.
If you were a comic book character, what would your superpower be and would you have a superhero name?
I would like to be a Genie-ologist, which is the study of genies. Someone who possesses the superpowers of a Fairy Godmother, who makes all the kids’ dreams come true and teaches them to be their own genies, hence- Genie-ologist. Like Galadriel said: “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”