Hello! My name is Lizzie and I’m an English tutor, online teacher, and creator of resources for middle and high school teachers.
In 2019, I worked as a high school English teacher. Before that, I earned my Masters of Education, with a thesis focusing on how English teachers select texts for their classes. I also founded West Auckland Academic Mentoring (WAAM), an organisation that provides free mentoring and tutoring for students in my community. I’m all about raising the bar for our students and making thoughtful, critical literacy the norm for every child.
I left the classroom after a year of teaching because I was tired of pushing uphill in a system that sees lowering expectations as the solution to academic struggles, especially for students who are economically disadvantaged. I show students – and their teachers – that they can do more than they ever imagined, whether it’s reading Don Quixote or writing an exceptional essay. I’m on a mission to prove that we don’t have to sacrifice rigor to get students excited about academics – we just have to give them the tools to feel genuine success.
Why ‘Scholar’s Atelier’?
From the middle ages to the nineteenth century, an atelier was both an artist’s workshop and a place for training new artists. The master artist would work on the artworks that had been commissioned by their patrons, while also preparing their apprentices to contribute to this work, and eventually become master artists in their own right.
Beginning artists would be taught to draw using very systematic methods. Students began with simple tasks, such as drawing a plaster cast (they might not even touch a paint brush in their first year), and would initially use additional tools to help them complete these tasks well. Once they mastered a task, they would move on to something more complex, and they would have fewer tools to help them. Depending on the individual student’s needs, the master might provide additional lessons on technique, human anatomy, or history. Through this progression, the work students were doing would get closer and closer to the “real thing” – the art they hoped they would one day create in their own workshop.
I chose Scholar’s Atelier as the name for my business because the atelier approach is similar to how I teach. I’ve found that schools often throw students in the deep end a bit too soon. I break writing, in particular, down into its most basic elements, and start off with plenty of scaffolding before gradually taking off the training wheels. As we follow this progression, I’m also introducing my students to the literary, historical, and occasionally scientific knowledge that will add depth to their writing.
While the traditional atelier (which still exists in some places) trained artists, Scholar’s Atelier trains scholars in the broadest sense of the word: readers, writers, and thinkers, with a broad knowledge of the world around them and the skills they need to communicate what they think about it.
Missed Opportunities: A Social Realist Perspective on Text Selection in Secondary School English – My masters thesis looked at how New Zealand English teachers choose which texts their students should read, and how this compares with the approach to text selection encouraged by the social realist view of education.
Bringing skills back in: A space for literacy in a social realist curriculum – This article was published in the 2017 edition of the Pacific-Asian Education journal. In it I argue that social realism needs to include a more complex understanding of ‘skills’ in order to account for the value of literacy.