Amanda Cedeno has worked for SmartStart Education for three years as an academic tutor at schools in New Haven and Hartford, Connecticut. During the course of her employment, she has helped students in a variety of grades, from elementary through high school, to bridge learning gaps in various subjects including pre-algebra, reading comprehension and earth science.
Discovering her passion:
Cedeno discovered her passion for teaching while attending the University of Connecticut. Although she enrolled as an anthropology major, she soon discovered how rewarding teaching was by working a part-time as a tutor to help make ends meet. She said she related to her students, because they shared similar
backgrounds, and she found joy in helping them excel academically. This experience influenced her decision to switch schools mid-year to attend Central Connecticut State University in New, Britain where she majored in education. Since then, she has earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, as well as a master’s degree in ecological teaching and learning.
Cedeno said that although she has taught a variety of subjects, her go-to-subject to teach is math. “As a young child, I had some struggles with reading and writing which affected my confidence to read aloud
and present my written work to others,” she said. She believes math is universal, “One plus one will always equal two regardless of the language you speak. Something about the sacredness and absoluteness of numbers has fascinated me since youth,” she added.
How Covid changed teaching:
As a result of the Covid pandemic, which forced many schools to halt in-person instruction and adapt an online only model, Cedeno concedes she has definitely seen a shift in the student dynamic. She said there were some students who were able to adapt quickly and thrive with an online only model. However, she also found that students, who were struggling with social pressures and anxieties before this shift, had trouble sticking to personal goals, meeting deadlines and adjusting to lack of personal interaction with teachers.
Cedeno has also seen a shift in teaching methods as a result of online learning. “I found that following the return to the previous school model has shifted. Teachers and administrators have veered towards implementing the use of online resources, videos and content more than ever before,” she said. She believes that, although the use of technology has its positives for many, not all students have adapted.
“Students that benefit from direct face-to-face instruction may have trouble interpreting content when presented in videos or online lectures.”
Important aspects of being a good educator:
Cedeno believes one of the most important aspects of being a good educator is the ability to keep an open mind. “Being open-minded allows one to work with a variety of people, whether that is students, other teachers, or administrators who may think, learn and process information differently,”
she said. In addition, she believes being kind and humble allows one to make genuine connections with both students and staff. “This opens up the possibilities of interacting in ways to promote meaningful