I've taught a wide variety of Biology courses at the college level for 20 years.
I love learning, and tutoring is the most personal and effective way of learning. What is teaching? For me, it's helping another person to learn. The key to teaching is communication. I learn from all my students; every year, they ask questions no one has ever asked before, and give me insights into what makes learning difficult for them. Working with students always brings surprises - for them and for me. I want my students to become better learners and gain confidence in their ability to learn. Teaching and tutoring are always challenging and always rewarding for me. I look forward to meeting and working with new students.
Brown University - B.S., A.B., Biology
University of Oklahoma - Ph.D., Comparative Zoology
Anatomy & Physiology
High School Biology
High School Chemistry
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is that learning is an adventure which, like all adventures, involves planning and work, takes time and patience, is surprising, and is most fun when people do it together. I try to get to know my students in order to help them on the adventure in learning that we take together. I hope it will inspire them to seek out further adventures.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
When I meet a new student, I hope to learn why they are in school, their short-and long-term goals, and what their difficulties are. I also want to know why they think certain concepts are difficult.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Helping my students to become better learners is a key goal for me. To achieve it, I use various exercises to engage them with the information, finding active things they can do to learn. Also I encourage them to use these activities with new information and practice what we have done together between sessions. I pay attention to which techniques work for them and develop those further so they can use them in future studies.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
My first step in motivating a student is to listen very carefully to them express why they aren't feeling motivated. If they feel the work is too hard, we work on changing that. I remind them that many, many people have tackled this information, and many of them also got stuck. I also remind them of the longer-term goal they are pursuing, and take a bit of time to imagine achieving it. In general, solving a motivational problem involves refocusing on positive aspects of the current project.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
When a student is stuck, I slow the session down. I ask questions to make sure that I understand exactly what is in the student's mind as they approach the information. I find something that they've done that has worked, and try to use that on the subject at hand, and sometimes try something brand new, which can shake things up and help move the process forward.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
When a student is struggling, I ask what exactly is difficult. I listen to the words they use to describe the problem and pay attention to their body language. I ask if there is something they would like to do that could make it more interesting - a different question format, diagrams, interactive exercises, etc.. Also, I remind them of how this subject relates to them personally.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Building a student's confidence is a key goal for me. I have them do some exercises more than once, because repetition makes it easier and more automatic to apply concepts to new information in the future. I often remind them of how much they have accomplished, so they don't focus only on new information that may be difficult.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Diagrams are my favorite teaching tool. I always have one on my computer screen during a session. I often give students copies so they can continue using them at home. Depending on the subject, I also use crossword puzzles, concept maps, and especially charts to help students organize information and see what they know in comparison to what they don't know yet.