Science, Social Studies, Advisor - Middle School
Education: Holds endorsements in Middle Level Sciences, 2018; Elementary Education (K-8), Western Washington University 2013; B.A. in Music from Western Washington University, 2002; NASP certified Archery Instructor
Tanya Miller joined the SPA middle school team in 2015 after teaching 2nd grade at the Lower School from 2013-2015. She continues to teach in the summer Youth Odyssey of Science and Arts program since 2011, including working with students from South Korea in the Sister-City program.
Becoming a teacher was not the most obvious path for Tanya, although it has become the most meaningful work she has done so far and ultimately her path to true joy. Her work after high school led toward a career of teaching middle school music. However, while earning her bachelor’s degree, she quickly realized that this path wasn’t a good fit, though she wasn’t sure why. Venturing on the second path, pursuing her love of nature and exploring this amazing planet, Tanya engaged in work growing herbs, flowers, and native plants and exploring the geology and ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest. Seizing the opportunity to further pursue a favorite hobby of restoring cars, Tanya then embraced her love of mechanics and technology working in the motorcycle service industry. As patterns began to reveal themselves in her priorities and her heart, Tanya realized that teaching kids about these things, especially adolescents with their attitude and insecurities, curiosity and brilliance, was really where all of her paths were leading all along. She now follows this path with an open heart joyful embrace.
Tanya’s teaching philosophy is based on the knowledge that the brain is designed to learn through making connections, and when allowed the opportunity to be creative, the brain is capable of limitless innovation. In her classroom, learning experiences focus on exploration and inquiry, driven by student curiosity and supported with research-based delivery of high quality instruction. Tanya believes that students are most successful when they are provided with clear parameters for learning outcomes, focused and purposeful content, and opportunity to explore and share ideas with peers. Especially in the sciences, students need guidance through acquisition of new content while simultaneously interacting with real world applications to create deep meaning and conceptual awareness. Thus, her classroom environment is defined by positive peer leadership; students collaborate to co-create expectations for their ideal learning environment and their interests drive how Tanya designs the units of study.
The social and emotional learning and development of communication skills are equally important for students to become adults who are confident, knowledgeable, and capable in 21st century skills. Tanya’s students have a safe environment to try, fail, and celebrate that failure because in the failures lie the keys to success. In middle school, it is necessary for students to be allowed the space to develop their own work ethic and systems for success, thus Tanya communicates high expectations for students to develop recognition of their responsibilities as well as honoring that each student is at their own place in their journey and needs an individualized method of support to grow in confidence and purpose.
A life-long learner, Tanya frequently attends professional development on positive classroom leadership, differentiation of instruction and assessment, and science-specific topics including conferences for implementation of NGSS standards, Makerspace and engineering design, Vernier digital tools, literacy in the sciences, and NASA Earth Sciences modelling. She is a member of NSTA and WSTA, as well as a member and scholarship recipient of the American Association of Educators.
A favorite saying: “If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.” ~ Kahlil Gibran
Check out her website here
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