Educator Spotlight: Tina RodriguezAsk any Educator what they consider to be the most rewarding aspect of their career, and they’ll tell you that it’s the impact they’ve made on even just one student.
With a passion to step outside her comfort zone to experience new things, Tina knew early on that her path in life would ultimately lead to a career that permitted her to be creative and share her passion for the arts. Tina attributes her success to the support she received from two of her Art teachers in high school. Tina says, “Our relationship was real and they were two of my favorite all-time mentors. I accredit most of my educational success to them and their teachings as a steady foundation. The idea to become an Art Educator became a goal in college. I then realized I loved to share my passion for art with others.” As her mentors, they helped guide and nurture her strengths by cultivating a positive teacher-student relationship which is one of the foundations of quality teaching and student learning.
As an iTutor Educator, Tina has not only mastered the virtual delivery of art instruction by using all of the digital tools at her disposal within the virtual classroom, she has also created space during her lessons for each student to explore their individual desires and curiosities of art and media. Emily Jones, Special Education Coordinator at iTutor says, “Through modeling a variety of artistic strategies, Tina is able to provide gentle, yet structured and student-centered, guidance. She provides students with a degree of autonomy which continuously encourages them to stretch their imaginations in order to design and create masterpieces.”
Tina’s transition from the traditional classroom to the virtual classroom has made an impact in her passion for teaching. Tina says, “The experience the online classroom allows students and Educators is ideal—students can focus on content and their personal learning takes center stage. For Educators, the ability to be flexible in the moment, assess, and reteach content or skills is easily achieved. I have grown as an Educator during my time with iTutor. There is no one set way to do something and I can differentiate as needed for each student. Personalized and individual instruction is a possibility for each student. The student sets the pace for learning and the role of the Educator is to be sure to guide a student how they need it.”
When you first learned about iTutor, were you already searching for a new chapter in your career as an Educator?
“I was! I found iTutor after a needed shift in my career. I actually left my tenured position to take a break from teaching to recharge. I found myself missing the daily interactions with students and ready to return. I had just finished a long term substitute position when I came across iTutor. A virtual art teaching position has always been an interest of mine. I saw iTutor as a way to put my ideas into action!”
What have you found to be the most gratifying aspect of personalizing instruction in a virtual classroom?
“The personalized one-on-one instruction is priceless — getting to know a student, how they work, and giving them the essential feedback needed when they need it. For me, I have found iTutor’s research-based learning models very helpful in enhancing my teaching craft. I have found that I can really focus in on my ability to improve my facilitating skills. The same personalized attention I give my students, iTutor affords me to give myself. I can now be sure my teaching craft is being nourished during their enrichment cycles.”
Upon onboarding as an iTutor Educator what stood out the most to you about its technology?
“iTutor’s platform is user-friendly in getting the resources you need for students. The platform also helps support their learning in a flexible manner. I love that their virtual whiteboard is always improving. I also love how supportive the IT department is. They’re available when needed as needed, for students and teachers.”
How has your overall life and career changed since becoming an iTutor Educator?
“Working for iTutor has encouraged my instructional growth and my skills with technology. The ability to teach from any location and create my own schedule has been liberating. Working for iTutor has helped me create a lifestyle that gives me energy and inspiration. I feel recharged and invigorated in my teaching career.”
Do you have a student success story you’d like to share?
“The variety of students I have worked with during my time at iTutor has been vast. One student comes to mind who I worked with for a period of 4 months. As we worked together, I began to see signs of intense life struggle in her behavior and demeanor. She was a high school senior and had a hard time with attendance. In the end, being able to sit with her and let her know that I was there 3 times a week made the difference. Being able to listen and offer some positivity where there was a void in her life, was so important to her. She flourished and grew in her learning and understanding of the art process and content. I watched her develop confidence and a passion for her work and her working process. I watched her take creative risks and supported her resilience. In the end, I created a dialog with her that I will remember for a lifetime. At times, creating lessons for her was very challenging, but ultimately, teaching her was a very rewarding experience for me.”
What do you think, or have experienced first-hand, are some effective alternative teaching methods that create new learning pathways and inspires motivation in students?
“The ability to get to know a person’s interest is priceless in the learning experience. What they like to do, where they like to go, what they would love to do in their future can all be points of entry for learning. Understanding what makes a day great for a student informs my curriculum development. Also, supporting a student’s abilities leads to meaningful learning experiences. The ability to offer choice in the moment is helpful for motivation. Adding in a more preferred exercise or subject brings the content to life for a student. The realization that learning happens everywhere in life creates life-long learners. The ability to slow down and understand their own growth creates empowered students. Structured reflection time into every lesson creates a deeper motivation for growth. This deeper motivation creates a fulfilling intrinsic reward for students. High-quality instruction makes the difference for a student.”