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Stefana

Because I enjoy the subjects I have listed that I am capable in tutoring in, I went above and beyond to fully understand everything within those courses when I was the student, and feel very comfortable with the material. I love helping people and knowing I helped them achieve a good grade is one of the best feelings in the world, because getting good grades was likewise as important to me. I am respectful and understanding of any student when they need help. I don't get frustrated because I too, have had to ask for help before when I was confused about something, and fully understand the circumstances! It is never a proper learning environment when the tutor gets frustrated with a student asking for help. As an aspiring computer science major, I have learned the value in having an individual go above and beyond to explain the material so that one can understand it fully, and that is what I always strive for when tutoring a student. I love working with people, and helping them succeed.

Undergraduate Degree:

 University of California Santa Barbara - BS, Computer Science

AP English Language: 5

AP US History: 4

AP European History: 5

Computer Science, painting, and writing.

10th Grade Writing

11th Grade Writing

AP Studio Art: Drawing

C++

College Computer Science

College English

Croatian/Serbian

Drawing

High School Computer Science

High School English

High School Writing

Journalism

Other

Study Skills

Study Skills and Organization

Summer

Technology and Computer Science

What is your teaching philosophy?

I understand the value in understanding the subject material and feeling comfortable and confident with it. Especially when it comes to math, it is fundamental to understand each and every step, as it piles on over time. This is why I do my best to ensure that the student understands the material fully before moving on. I do not get frustrated and am not impatient or demanding because I have similarly been placed in situations where the person assisting me has been. I do not want to be that tutor because the best learning comes with patience, and practice.

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

I would first ask the tutor what they wish to accomplish throughout the tutoring session and in what particular area they are struggling. I usually try to relate their conflicts to something I have had in the past, so they do not feel as though they are alone in the process of learning the material. Speaking for myself (and from observation), I noticed this helps a lot. Then, I would go about asking the student to see their work to date concerning the material and ask them where they are getting lost. Then, I would see for myself. Next, I would go about showing them the first time how it is supposed to be done, explaining along the way why we would be taking these steps in this order. Oftentimes, I try to explain this in the simplest way I can think of that would be efficient in their understanding. Then, later, if I see they understand the basics, I might expand on the material as I see fit. I would practice until they are comfortable, and I feel they have seen many potential problems.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

To help a student become an independent learner, I would first explain to them my experiences with studying. I would tell them that sometimes taking things into your own hands helps you grow and become self sufficient. I'd let them know that struggling through material on your own and getting that click actually helps you remember much better than when someone directly shows you. I would then try to explain some methods that I use when I study. (e.g., Go through the book once, if you don't understand something, put a ? mark in your notes and continue on.) I have noticed with math that sometimes it is explained strangely in some parts that I cannot decipher, but further reading elucidates the content that was described, and I figure out what previously confused me! Then, what I do is practice. Practice, practice, practice. There are a plethora of resources available to check whether you are doing the work correctly and if you are on the right track. The Internet is a wonderful resource for any questions you might have. But don't ever get discouraged when you can't understand it on your own. Sometimes, just learning it yourself doesn't work, and asking for extra help is never a bad thing.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Motivation is hard sometimes to maintain. Getting discouraged is the easiest thing. Giving up is always easy, but working hard is what makes the admirable individual. Because hard work is exactly what it is! Hard! I would tell them that after working for something so hard, succeeding afterwards is one of the best feelings and makes a person feel like they truly are capable of many things. Sometimes a person fails, but picking yourself up is what creates strong character. I have them think about all the work they've put into studying, preparing and understanding, and I would say it shouldn't go to waste. I would say nobody gets it the first time, but try, try, try again, and you will get it, and I will be there every step of the way.

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

I always take different angles to try to get the material across! Even if I see the students are understanding one way, I will always try to introduce at least one other to see if that rings clearer through, just to reinforce the material. I understand everyone has their unique way of learning; it is through enough interaction with one person when trying to teach them, that you see what registers best with them and in what style. I will always try my best to present the material in the style the learner needs.

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

In regard to reading comprehension, I would have the student dissect paragraph by paragraph the content within the book. That is ultimately the best way to truly understand the material at hand. Annotating is very resourceful, but most of the time, carefully looking through the content and meticulously trying to understand exactly what the author is trying to get across to the reader is key to comprehending the material. Then, when a full page is gone through, we can go back, and go over what was discussed.

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

I personally get very excited about a subject when it makes a lot of sense! It gives a sense of accomplishment, especially after having struggled with the material for quite a while. If I see that a student starts grasping something they started off very unsure about, I would give encouraging words every now and then, remind them they are doing a great job, and when I see they got a hold of it, I would say: "See? You were really confused on that subject, and now you understand it! Doesn't that feel great?" Normally, a positive attitude throughout the tutoring session reinforces the desire to learn more and advance through learning curves. At the same time, I would explain the value behind understanding the material, hopefully something about the importance in understanding the material will spark some engagement.

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

I would first go over several varying problems with the student to see if they got a hold of it. If I see they are struggling a bit with anything, I would go back and explain, try out the problem, and illustrate my thinking process. Then, I would have the student try it again. While they are trying, I would ask them to explain their logic as they are going through, so I could monitor whether they truly are understanding their process rather than mechanically following a set procedure.

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

I would ensure the student understands the material on a deeper level as opposed to on the surface. When one understands the material and can explain themselves to another person, that signifies that the learner has got a hold of the material. When the learner feels confident explaining the subject to me, that usually means their confidence in the subject itself is improving. Explaining to another person so that they understand is fundamental and signifies a deeper level of understanding, and I will be checking this multiple times throughout the tutoring session.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I ask the student what they are confused on first and foremost, and why they are confused. Were they following up until a specific point? Or, were they lost from the beginning? Did the material seem to add up and include concepts that were from another teaching that was also missed? Or, was it simply new material presented that was confusing? If I notice the student is unsure about topics that should have been clear from the past, I would go back before explaining the current material and ensure the student understands the material from the past. Especially in subjects like math, you need a strong foundation in order to add onto the building. If the foundation is weak, the building crumbles and fails to hold upright. I also try to ask the student what they find to be the best way to explain material. Are they visual learners or do they learn by having the material explained more in depth? After some time, a student sometimes may have a grasp of what works best for them, and they can share it with me so I can tackle it from that angle.

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

Everyone is a different learner, and this demands different angles to be taken in regard to getting new material across. I always try to explain the material from a different perspective to ensure something gets across and stays in the learner's memory. When someone understands something as opposed to pure memorization, the material stays with the learner. I will try to adapt my methods of explaining solely to whatever I see works best with the student.

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

I love to use whiteboards; they are fun and interactive and generally make the student (even myself) feel like they are the teacher. They also do not use up as much paper! I also like to use paper, however, when I am trying to write down key notes that need to be saved, or practice problems that the student can refer back to. I have books available to refer to extra practice problems if need be as well.