Teacher Spotlight: Victoria Murano
Victoria Murano is an English teacher at MEK, who teaches Exam Prep 8, SAT Core, SAT Foundation, MLC Writing, MLC Critical Reading, and tutors in History.
The following is an interview between her and our content writer:
Teaching at MEK
Interviewer: What is your favorite part of teaching at MEK?
Murano: At MEK, we focus on student’s individual progress. MEK makes it really easy for teachers to access and compare student scores and monitor how students are performing academically. Teachers can figure out the student’s mindset and easily reach out to them to discuss their progress in class and schedule meetings.
I like MEK’s use of the Canvas platform, which keeps everything organized easily. And I also like the way lessons are structured. All of the lessons build on one another, starting with foundational knowledge and adding more challenging content with each class. Students are also given different ways to practice what they’ve learned in class, if they feel like they need extra help.
For example, in Exam Prep 8, we give students supplemental vocabulary quizzes through Canvas, apart from the vocabulary quizzes they take during class, to reinforce and retain what they’ve learned in class.
MEK gives students a variety of ways to excel beyond the classroom.
Interviewer: What’s your key to student engagement in the classroom?
Murano: Strategies for student engagement depend on the class, since each class has its own dynamic. I’ve also noticed that student engagement is easier to achieve in-person than in the virtual classroom.
The first thing I like to do for student engagement is to make my lessons as interesting as possible through asking questions to make sure they are following along and to reinforce what we’ve been learning. I also implement fun activities that have the students working in groups.
Exam Prep Tips
Interviewer: What is your advice to students who want to score an 800 on the English section of the SAT?
Murano: I cannot stress this enough, you have to study outside of class in order to independently process and reinforce the material. Only studying during class time is not enough. As the teacher, I can help you understand and memorize the concepts, but you have to use your free time to review. Even 20 minutes a day is enough to retain information. Students who study outside of class show the most improvement on practice tests and assignments. And in order to make sure your progress doesn’t stagnate, you have to use your class notes to build your test-taking skills outside of the classroom on your own time.
Interviewer: How do you think students can build mindset or stamina for the tough BCA admissions exam?
Murano: Just like with earning top scores on admissions tests, mindset and stamina are built on the time spent outside of class studying your course notes and materials. Seeing improvement is a student’s biggest motivator. But the only way to improve is to study in your free time.
If a student isn’t seeing the improvement that they want, they need to use their teacher as a resource. Reach out to your instructor to learn more about your weaknesses and how to improve them.
Interviewer: What inspired you to become a teacher?
Murano: My mother is a retired high school Spanish teacher. And growing up, I didn’t think I wanted to be a teacher because I saw how stressful her career was. I tutored a little in high school, teaching ESL to a 4th grade student who had just come from Korea.
But when I got to college, I majored in History and French, and became a teaching assistant for one of my French professors. That’s when I realized how much I enjoyed teaching, designing lessons that reinforced what students learned in class, and helping students reach their goals. And after college, I became a French tutor.
Teaching is a lot of work, but the stress is absolutely worth it to see students progress and succeed.
Interviewer: What are some words of wisdom you have for students applying to top high schools and colleges?
Murano: My biggest piece of advice is to pace yourself and to not wait until the last minute to complete your applications. It’s so easy to burn yourself out this way. I know the college application process is extensive. You have admissions exams, personal statements, interviews, and even the stress of just waiting for responses. But it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all of it.
That’s why it’s so important to take time to do what you love. Whether it’s watching a show that you enjoy, taking a day off to spend time with friends, or even going for a walk, these activities can help you destress and avoid burnout. And if you feel like you’re at a point in your studies where you’re having trouble concentrating, take a break and come back later. It’s important to strike a balance between completing your obligations and not overworking yourself.
Interviewer: What do you like to do outside of MEK?
Murano: Outside of MEK, I like to read books in both English and French. I like to read in French in order to keep up with my language skills. I also enjoy having conversations in French with my conversation partner. My advice to anyone who wants to learn a language is to find a language partner to practice with. I’m a huge fan of music and like to go record shopping in my free time. I like to crochet, and I even wear my creations to work sometimes. And I enjoy history and reading history books and historical novels.
Interviewer: What are you currently reading?
Murano: I’m currently reading The Sentence by Louise Erdich. It’s about a woman who works in a bookstore and is being haunted by one of her old patrons. The author is Native American, and the book explores issues of Native American identity.
I am also reading a book written by one of my French professors from college. Le sang noir des hommes by Julien Suaudeau is also a sort of ghost story that touches on themes such as the violence of French colonialism.