Hi, I'm Danielle!

I speak English (fluent); Spanish (basic); American Sign Language (basic) 

I speak English (fluent); Spanish (basic); American Sign Language (basic) 

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I have been working with young people for over 10 years in many roles including: tutor, learning facilitator, suspension hearing advocate, camp counselor, mental health group therapy counselor, and dance instructor. In 2016, I co-founded Dida Academy, an education startup promoting self-directed, project-based learning. I am also a lawyer and children’s rights activist. I serve on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Self-Directed Education.

What's your philosophy on what it means to be a great teacher? A great teacher respects student consent and aims to maximize autonomy. We are all natural learners, and the role of a teacher is to scaffold for skill and understanding.     

What advice would you give to someone who is considering becoming a teacher? Test it out before you commit to a career path in teaching. Try volunteering with children in short experiences such as workshops or summer camps. Be sure to work with students ranging in ages and abilities. Give yourself time to reflect on these experiences before deciding whether teaching is a sustainable role for you. And if so, what would be your ideal student ages, team/class-size, and environment? 

In your opinion, what is the role of the live teacher in a world where it is becoming increasingly easy to get access to information through the internet and online courses? A live educator offers techniques and strategies to engage with the subject matter. Interest, drive, and a healthy skepticism can be essential to set the conditions for problem-solving. Learning can happen anywhere and at anytime. A great teacher increases the likelihood with her/his presence. 

How can we, as teachers of children, work to build a society where people are respectful towards each other and the environment? If more adults truly respected children, then more humans would grow up with the firsthand experience of a respectful attitude towards other people. This would increase tolerance, and decrease violence and suffering in the world.

What is your philosophy on and approach to behavioral management? In an age-mixed environment of teens and young adults with a respectful culture, “behavior” incidents rarely occur. When they do, we focus on resetting expectations, strengthening communication, and rebuilding relationships. 

Do you have experience working with children with special needs? If so, please specify. I have worked one-on-one with several children with special needs. Most recently, I have been facilitating the self-directed education of a 7-year-old boy with severe cerebral palsy.

Credentials: Agile Learning Facilitators Training (June 2016), Revive the Dream Public Education Fellowship (September 2016-June 2017), Board Member of Alliance for Self-Directed Education, University of Rochester (Bachelor of Arts in Psychology), Brooklyn Law School (Juris Doctor), New York State Bar Admission

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