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Rachel

I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2012 with a BA in Elementary Education. While earning my degree, I spent a year student-teaching in a 5th grade classroom the elementary subjects of Math, Science, Social Studies and Reading. While student-teaching, I also took a program to earn my TEFL/TESOL/TESL certification from Oxford Seminars. In 2013, I moved to South Korea to teach English as a Foreign Language to students in 4th-8th grade at the Avalon English Institute. When I returned, I moved myself to CO and became a homeschool teacher for ages 8, 10 and 12. I taught my students in a one-on-one environment in the subjects of Math, Writing, Social Studies, Foundations of Learning, and Reading, including introduction to Phonics, Fluency and Comprehension skills. In addition to tutoring, I am also an enrichment teacher for an after-school program, Challenge Island, where I lead activities based on the STEM system that involve students in critical thinking experiments!
In addition to teaching, I love to be outdoors. I take myself on a trip every year to a different place in the US where I camp, hike, and explore. I have been to every state except for four and have visited 13 different countries. I love learning about new cultures and have goals to visit each continent, eventually.

Undergraduate Degree:

 University of North Carolina at Charlotte - BA, Elementary Education

Traveling and exploring. and staying active.

What is your teaching philosophy?

My teaching philosophy falls within the Montessori teaching style. I believe students should be given the opportunity to discover their own personal learning style through activities that support differentiated instruction, independent learning, and critical thinking skills. Schools should prepare students for the real world, and I cater my teaching style to support student-directed learning with teacher facilitation.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

In a first session with a student, I would typically create an activity that allows the student and I to get to know each other but also incorporates the learning skill that he or she is focusing on for the tutoring session with me. For example, if the student and I are focusing on reading fluency, I might create a conversational board game that allows us to learn about each other while I assess his or her reading skills at the same time.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

I can help a student to become an independent learner by discovering the students' personal learning style and catering the tutoring sessions towards this. For example, if the student is an auditory learner, I can incorporate rhymes or songs to help he or she memorize long and short vowel sounds. From here, the student will have easy access to self-help techniques and mental references so that he or she can independently sound out words he or she once struggled with. I can make it easier for the student to be an independent learner by finding the student's learning style from the very beginning and utilizing this as much as possible so that understanding concepts is enjoyable and, therefore, easier to transition towards independent learning.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

I would help a student to stay motivated by catering the lessons towards his or her interests and learning styles. Learning is motivating when students see they are capable. The easiest way to do this is to make them interested in the material by finding extra materials to help develop the concepts he or she struggles with such as videos or digital story books. After, it is important to enforce the concepts through activities that relate to their personal learning style and level. Students should begin with problems at or slightly below their level and gradually increase in difficulty while I help to motivate by drawing attention to what they excel in and then focusing on a specific skill they need help with, using strategies I know work best for their particular learning style. The lesson should always end on a positive note so the student leaves remembering what they succeeded in. Over time, this will build the intrinsic motivation needed to love learning.

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

If a student has difficulty understanding a concept, I would help the student to refer back to a previously learned concept that I know he or she understands that relates to the particular skill. I would then try to help the student see the pattern between both learning concepts by using strategies I know work best for him or her (perhaps it is drawing a diagram, or writing out each step). Most learning concepts build on each other, and it is important for students to see the relationships and realize that if they could understand the previous concept, then they can understand the one that follows. It just may take a few trials, some patience, and, sometimes, a mental break.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

I can help students who struggle with reading comprehension by using explicit modeling by talking about my thinking process as I use context and picture clues to illicit the student to answer questions about the story. I can ask prediction or "why do you think?" questions to assess their understanding of the story. I can also use implicit modeling by making suggestions that get the student thinking about the plot, problem, characters, and/or solution. Discussion can be a huge help for students who struggle with reading comprehension.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

It really depends on the student. Some students are naturally more independent learners. When I detect this, I let them try to solve as many problems as they can on their own, and then I step in on the ones they discover for themselves that they personally struggle with. From there, we discover together what learning strategies and skills work best for them. For students who rely heavily on the teacher, I try to incorporate other learning materials such as songs, videos, drawings, rhymes, etc. and encourage them to create their own self-help methods that they can refer to when they are struggling. The most successful strategies are those that encourage independent learning so that the student can see that he or she is capable.

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

I help students to become engaged in the lesson by relating it to something they are interested in. It would be easy if all students were simply motivated by knowing that what they're learning will help them in their future career or a real-world situation, but young students are focused on the present. Thus, I try to engage students by incorporating educational videos, songs, characters from current movies, topics that relate to popular interests of the particular age group, etc. as much as possible. If this is a stretch for a particular subject, such as math, then I hone in on the student's' learning style to make it easier and more motivating for them to believe in their ability to conquer the concept.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

I can use formal assessment techniques to see if a student understands the material. For example, to check for reading comprehension, I can ask the student to write a few sentences to the author saying what they might change about the story. To see a students' progress on their multiplication facts, I could give a short weekly timed-test. I can also use simple conversation to check for comprehension while the student and I are reading about a concept together.

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

I build a student's confidence in a subject by letting them do what I know they are capable of on their own and letting them try new concepts with full support. If a student struggles, I point out their strengths and what they understand that will help them to conquer the concept. I show them that I believe in them by always fully supporting them and reminding them of what they accomplished in the lesson.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I evaluate a student's needs by asking questions, presenting new hypothetical situations that test the given concept, introducing new learning strategies when needed to see how they learn a particular skill best, and then using all this information to build on how I teach the next lesson. I keep records of what the student struggled with, the strategies we tried, and the ones that worked, and then I use these notes to help with the next lesson.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

By keeping record of the strategies that work and do not work for the student, I am able to build a mental record of ways to successfully reach the student and refer to this when needed. I remain patient and constantly read the student to see what strategies work best for him or her, putting more emphasis on the student than my favored teaching style or the way that I particularly learn best.

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

I typically try to incorporate the materials that I find work best for that particular student's learning style, the subject, and age. If it is a younger student, they usually work best with hands-on materials, especially for math concepts. However, with other subjects such as reading, these students do well with songs, rhymes, videos, digital books, or games that reinforce learning strategies. For older children, less material is usually required, but videos that reinforce concepts are usually very successful. The main point is to come prepared with anything you feel may help in the given time you have with the student. It is better to have more than not enough.