Avant Academic Coaching & Consulting

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Online teacher & instructional coach empowering students to know how they know!

original or innovative; avant-garde.

Hi! I'm Holly

I have been teaching and tutoring students, their parents and other educators to help them transform their educational experiences - for more than 15 years. 

I have a passion for students who feel blocked in their progress and know that they are capable of more than they are achieving.

I have compassion for parents who want to be the best support they can be for their children but don't know where to start.

I have a desire to empower others to teach what they know and teach it well.

I am on a mission to engage a new conversation about the changing face of education.

Education should be the ultimate equalizer - and ultimately education is about partnership. 

Let's see what we can learn together!

My strengths as an educator and an instructional coach include:

 ~ uncovering the blocks to learning success

 ~ empowering learners to blow away their
own expectations by helping them discover their own learning style
  and giving them the tools that will be most useful in their learning experience

 ~ deepening understanding of different learning theories & approaches to learning

 ~ coaching others in effective instructional and developmental strategies for optimal performance

 ~ building solid skill foundations that will allow learners to 
progress quickly
My Teaching & Learning Journey
The beginning...

In 2003 I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Eastern Michigan University.

My specialty was Elementary Education with an extra emphasis on math and Spanish.

Foreign Language Learning

While at Eastern Michigan I participated in an intensive language immersion program in Queretaro, Mexico where I attended El Universidad Autonomo de Queretaro to study Spanish language and culture. This experience of being a second language learner in a foreign country was a vital piece in my development as an educator and gave me invaluable insight into the challenges, both cultural and linguistic, that are faced by those who attempt the extremely rewarding endeavor of learning something that new and challenging - especially second language.

The challenges faced by anyone learning a second language, in particular those who are learning in a foreign country, are significant and unique. I bring a personal perspective to the experience of language learning - one that gives you - my student - a real edge.

Math Master

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts I accepted a job in Phoenix, Arizona teaching sixth grade honor-levelma th.

In this position I was able to combine my love of math, my love of Spanish, and my love of teaching English as a second language learners.

The math curriculum, and extensive training, provided by my district was inquiry-based. That meant that I learned how to encourage my students to come up wtih solutions to new problems and to articulate their strategies - rather than the other way around in which as a teacher I would give them the strategies and then ask them to complete the problems 'my way'.

I quickly recognized that this type of instruction - student led, with teacher as support - allowed students to develop a strong confidence in their capabilities and that confidence was a strong building block in their success. I began to see how small things such as asking students to explain their thinking, asking more questions rather than giving straight answers, and continuously encouraging discovery and investigation not only increased their willingness to try, but also their interest in the subject and their success with the material.

ESL in Action

During my time in Arizona I completed a Masters of Arts at Northern Arizona University in Bilingual & Multicultural Studies with an emphasis in TESOL - Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

It became clear to me that investing my time and money in a TESOL degree was the best way to improve my teaching skills. TESOL practices and philosophies are designed to be targeted and measurable in their implementation.

Simply put, it made me a more effective teacher and gave me the tools and background to make content as easy as possible for the learner to understand. It gave me the pedagogy (teaching practices), theory and background I needed to make the transition from 'teacher' to 'coach'. The difference between the two, for me, being the answer to the question, "who is doing the work?'.

If I, as the teacher, am doing the work - becoming familiar with the curriculum, distributing the materials, defining the objectives, testing the objectives and providing the answers, then I am the one who is learning.  (Top-down model)

If, as the coach, I am offering support, resources, encouragement and answering questions with more questions, then my students are the ones who are doing the work, and they are the ones who are learning. (Collaborative model)

I quickly realized which of the two was more effective and knew that I needed to find a way to coach more than I taught.

Spanish Teacher

After teaching for four years in Phoenix, I moved back to Michigan to be closer to family as the birth of my first child neared. In Michigan I accepted a job teaching Spanish I & II at a private middle school. My classes were rigorous and extensive, covering a lot of material, and my students rose to the challenge.

I realized quickly that my TESOL training - together with my own experiences as a second langauge learner - would be invaluable as I began to teach Spanish to speakers of English.

Teacher on a Mission

In 2014 it was time for another move - this time to Wisconsin - to a small town on the outskirts of the capital of Madison.

At this time I began to see the good work I could do with tutoring and coaching from outside the classroom.

So many students find themselves facing challenges in different subjects at different times - and there are many different reasons for this. Sometimes kids need more time with a particular concept, but the class is ready to move on. This can create a weak foundation in a particular area that compounds the difficulty going forward. Sometimes, kids need help harnessing the power of their own learning, organizational or study style - allowing them to be more efficient in their work. Sometimes, kids just need to hear something in a different way in order for it to click.

When it comes to learning difficulties or challenges, it is best to address the issue in the early stages of the problem, to minimize the effects of cumulative damage.

Teacher Coach & Learning Specialist

Throughout my career I have been given the opportunity to participate in fabulous, progressive and cutting-edge teacher training. From my very earliest days as an educator I hungrily pursued new ideas, strategies and practices in order to make my teaching more effective. After years working in the field I noticed how often I was counseling new teachers, other tutors, and parents who were desperate to better understand the educational process for their child. I accepted my first coaching client and never looked back. Helping other educators - those with formal training and those who have none - is part of my life's work.

Every person who invests in the transformative experience of being coached to become a better, more effective, educator is doing vital work. They will become a part of the exponential ripple effect of student empowerment that I believe will ultimately change the field of education for the better. 

Soccer Coach? Swim Coach? Academic Coach? Yes!

Unfortunately, as I well know from my years of experience in public schools, teachers do not always have the resources or time to address the unique and constantly changing needs of each and every student. This is where a an instructional coach becomes important - and in many cases invaluable.

And for those of us who are adults, teachers aren't always so easy to find anymore!

You invest time and money in sports coaches to help build the foundational skills that will allow you to progress to the next level and achieve the success you envision. An academic or instructional coach functions exactly the same way. A coach forms a relationship with you, getting to know your strengths and weaknesses and helping you, over time, to play to those strengths and shore up those weaknesses. A coach helps you craft your own learning journey so that you end up exactly where you want to in as little time as possible.

Tutoring for Social Change!

Throughout my teaching career I have recognized that not all families can afford the benefits of a tutor or coach for themselves or for their students. But consistently throughout my years of teaching I have seen students completely transform their circumstances through the individualized attention of a progressive educator and I believe access to progressive and individualized education is a human right.

To this end, I have decided to marry my passion for social justice & volunteering to my love of teaching.

For every 10 hours of tutoring provided at my base rate, I bank sixty minutes of free or reduced-cost tutoring/coaching sessions to offer to families or individuals in need.

I work together with the local school district, as well as through private contacts and referrals, to offer the same great tutoring/coaching help for free as a service to the larger community - both online and in the greater Madison area.

So, when you book tutoring sessions for yourself or your child - you are also participating in giving back to your community!

Everyone - regardless of differences - deserves to have their best shot at accomplishing their learning goals - and that is why I feel so passionately about giving back in this way.

Thanks for helping me accomplish this goal!