My name is John, and I am a French teacher, multi-subject tutor, former chef, sound engineer, and father. My educational background is extensive: I have a BS in Recording Industry with minors in French, Electro-Acoustics, and Mathematics; a BA in French, an MA in French Language and Literature, and an MEd in Secondary Education. Professionally, I have been a teacher in public and private educational environments and have worked with students from the ages of 8 to 65.
I am currently a full-time French teacher at a high school in Arizona, teaching advanced French classes including AP, IB Language B SL and HL, and AP/IB Capstone. Additionally, I am an IB Examiner, AP Reader, and a Reader for the Praxis World Language French test for teachers.
I have lived, worked, and traveled throughout France and have been to several other countries worldwide. My experiences have shaped me extensively. My students like how I can combine my experiences with teaching to make the material come to life–or provide a funny anecdote.
Cactus Shadows High School, Cave Creek, Arizona July 2018-Present
Design and implement a proficiency-based French curriculum built on Arizona state standards for World and Native Languages for honors third- and fourth-year classes as well as International Baccalaureate Language B French Standard and Higher Level, AP French Language and Culture, and Capstone. Assisted in developing an intergovernmental memorandum of understanding and exchange between the district and the académie of Grenoble in France. Co-sponsor of Société Honoraire de Français and French Club.
Florence High School, Florence, Arizona July 2016-2018
Designed and implemented a customized curriculum based on Arizona state standards for World Languages from beginning French to International Baccalaureate French B Standard Level (fourth year). Developed an educational trip to French Canada for March 2018.
University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania May 2016-July 2016
Designed and implemented syllabus and coursework for a combined intermediate course and French media for the Pitt in Nantes study abroad program. Animated visits through contacts in Nantes to radio and television stations. Worked with the lead professor and local education service provider to organize tours and events in Paris as well as in and around Nantes.
University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania August 2015-April 2016
Designed and implemented a syllabus for and taught the course France in the 21st Century and Advanced French Conversation (Fall 2015). Taught Beginning French 2 using departmental syllabus (Spring 2016)
SUP’Internet, Paris, France October 2014-June 2015
Designed lesson plans, taught, and graded English language courses for first and second-year students specializing in Internet trades.
IUT – SFR SITEC Sèvres Ville d’Avray, Ville d’Avray, France September 2014-August 2015
Designed lesson plans, taught, and graded English language courses for first through third-year students in Engineering Sciences at varying levels.
Université de Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, Paris, France September 2014-August 2015
Instruct, manage, and grade language and content-based courses designed by instructional coordinators.
University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania August 2012-April 2013
Created lesson plans and taught beginning French language courses (French 1 and 2)
What is your teaching philosophy?
My primary philosophy for teaching is to find a way for each student to see themselves in the language. This consists of constant use of differentiated activities where students learn they can choose how they learn the language.
Another practice I employ in my teaching is metacognition. Learning a new language requires time and patience but it also requires a learner to reframe their thinking. By engaging in what is basically thinking about thinking, students oftentimes find themselves grasping new ideas much more quickly. It also allows them to be more rounded and open thinkers that are receptive to new ideas.
Lastly, I believe everyone can learn a language. As simple as this sounds, many people grow frustrated with language learning and say they can’t do it. Yet, it’s an activity that everyone does every single day, it’s just challenging when it necessary to start from the beginning. In this way, there is a place for both explicit and implicit instruction.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
A first session usually consists of a brief introduction of both parties to establish rapport. Next, students will give me a rundown on their needs, or, in short, they respond to the question why are you here. Depending on what the client needs, I will do a short skills evaluation which is similar to an oral proficiency interview. Students will be asked simple questions that will become increasingly more difficult but rooted in the original simple question. When a student can no longer respond to the question a new question may be introduced. Lastly, I finish by scheduling the next session and first ask when the tutee is available and work from there. I find it best to discuss which days will be consistently suitable for meeting to ensure continuity and fluidity to the sessions.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
There are many ways to help students become independent learners but none is more important than trying to instill a personal interest in the subject. Once that is accomplished, students will largely work to improve their skills because they are no longer working necessarily on something they have to do but, instead, what they want to do.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Helping students become independent learners and keeping them motivated are very similar. Motivation comes when students are not frustrated, so it is crucial to keep gauging a student’s ability and application. Once they get frustrated, oftentimes it is helpful to do a reset and refresh the material or work with the student to find a new approach that suits them.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
When students hit a roadblock, the instructor needs to pose pointed questions about what is causing the difficulty. Once the challenge is determined, the tutor should construct scaffolds to assist the student towards attaining the skill or concept while always being aware of the initial confusion.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Struggles with reading comprehension can vary from a simple lack of vocabulary to an inability to interpret an author’s intent. Students having trouble most often need guided reading and someone that will break it down with them. Oftentimes, I prefer to make a separate text and go through the process and have the student interpret each step after which the student will apply the same ideas to their own.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
The most important strategy is to get to know the student and to cater to their interests within the framework of the content. In this case, it means working with the IB themes to pick materials. In the beginning, it is also essential to solicit feedback to guide future sessions.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling with?
As I have mentioned previously, it’s essential to integrate student interests into the subject. It’s also important to ask students about any bad experiences they may have had and teach them to put aside previous bad experiences with the subject because there are always new ways to approach it.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
To determine if a student understands the material, I use comprehension checks on a regular basis. With language, as with any discipline, the constant review is necessary to deepen understanding. Reaching comprehension and listening comprehension both depend on the student continually using and applying similar thematic ideas across multiple texts.
How do you build a student’s confidence in a subject?
Personally, for language, I find a student’s confidence explodes once they can talk about themselves and their interests. Most students, especially adolescents, are building that sense of self and are therefore egocentric in a normal way. If a student can take ownership of the language, they will excel in it.
How do you evaluate a student’s needs?
When tutoring, evaluating student needs boil down to having ongoing, open, and frank discussions with the individual. Tutors should ask to see progress reports but must ask how the student is feeling about the subject.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student’s needs?
Adapting to student needs goes back to evaluation, it’s important to pay attention to how students are discussing the material and to ask them directly how they’re feeling. I personally engage in a constant feedback loop to ensure student’s needs are constantly being met.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Typically I will use paper, writing utensils, and screen-share with multiple audio and video sources. I try to touch on most proficiencies in each session to ensure a balanced approach.
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