Teaching

I’ve been teaching college and high school students in various capacities since 2001, including physics, computer science, and sailing.

  • Summer 2012: MIT Accelerating International Technology Initiative; Accra, Ghana.  Lectured on entrepreneurship and mobile app development; managed eight teams of three to seven university students developing startups in the period of seven weeks.  Fought off tropical maladies while networking with technology incubators, venture capitalists, private equity firms, startups, and established mobile companies.
  • Spring 2011: 12.400 The Solar System, taught by Richard Binzel at MIT.  Conducted office hours on orbital mechanics, cratering, problem solving, and atmospheric physics and chemistry.  Graded problem sets and exams for 25 students, and even taught a lecture on exploring Mars.   The chocolate I had at office hours again proved popular: I received MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Science award for teaching excellence, thanks in part to my students’ recommendations.  Some excerpts from my evaluations:
    • “She’s great at explaining concepts and very willing to help outside of class. I struggled a lot with the course in the beginning and Alessondra definitely helped me turn things around & improve my performance.”
    • “She provided insight beyond just what was taught in class.”
    • “She really helped me understand how to think like a [planetary scientist].”
    • “One of the best TAs I have had.”
  • November 2009—present: Freelance tutor.  I taught mathematics, physics, computer science, and computer skills to college and high school students.  Tutoring algebra II and precalculus are my favorites as these courses set the foundation for more advanced topics in mathematics, and are a fantastic integration of algebra, geometry, and problem solving.  Trigonometry and functions suddenly click for students as they’re able to see how these ideas connect to things they learned as freshmen or even in middle school.
    I worked with students with learning disabilities such as ADHD, Executive Function Disorder, and dyslexia, and effectively home-schooled one high school student in mathematics.  I also helped computer-illiterate adults learn how to use word processing programs, printers, blogging software, image editing programs, and email.
  • Summer 2010: Middle East Education through Technology (MEET) in Jerusalem at Hebrew University. As part of a team of four other instructors, I developed an advanced computer science curriculum in Java for 28 high school students from Palestine and Israel; taught abstraction, modularity, testing, interfaces, the model-view-controller paradigm, graphics, and data structures through laboratories and lectures; supervised a group of seven students writing an instant messenger client and plug-in written in Java in four weeks.  My blog posts from the summer are available here.  Did I mention this had been the first time I’d touched Java in years?  I was, however, able to convert adamant anti-interface believers into proselytizers for modularity and abstraction.
  • Fall 2008: 8.287J/12.410J Observational Techniques of Optical Astronomy at MIT, taught by Professor Jim Elliot. Duties included driving two laboratory sections of undergraduates to MIT’s observatory (35 miles away from campus); supervising projects, data collection, data analysis; grading; leading recitation sections.  I received an award from MIT EAPS for being an outstanding TA for this course (turns out all those chocolate-covered espresso beans I bought for my students for late-night labs were popular!).
    Dr. Elliot’s endorsement of my teaching was quite kind: “Sondy is one of the best TAs I have ever had for this class.  She could teach it with both hands tied behind her back.”
  • Summer 2007: Summer Science Program, Socorro, NM campus.  Graded problem sets for 36 students; instructed students in the proper use of telescopes; taught Python, calculus, physics, and astronomy.  Some nights I’d be up until 4 am helping students collect data on asteroids so that they could write asteroid orbit determination programs using their measurements.  An absolutely fantastic summer program for high school students.
  • Fall 2005: Astronomy 206 Basic Astronomical Techniques Laboratory, Wellesley College.  As a lab assistant, I showed fellow students how to properly use the Whitin Observatory 24″ telescope and organized a presentation of their research results the following spring at a college conference.
  • Summers 2001, 2005: Inverness Yacht Club Youth Sailing Instructor
  • Summer 2003: Marin Yacht Club Youth Sailing Instructor (through Sailing Education Adventures)

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