I am a graduate of Wright State University twice over - I earned my B.A. in Psychology in 2006, and I graduated again from WSU in 2013 with an M.S. in Human Anatomy. My graduate work included rigorous courses in the structure and development of the human body, as well as extensive teacher training to prepare me for a career in science education. I have a solid background in biological sciences as well as superior writing and analytical skills.
I have taught Human Anatomy and Physiology and General Biology courses at community colleges for over three years. My dedication to my students and to keeping up to date with educational technology earned me the award of 2015 Adjunct Faculty of the Year (Science, Math, and Engineering Division) at the college I currently work at. I also gained experience as a graduate teaching assistant in teaching life sciences to students in grades 7-12. One of the highlights of my year is judging a science fair at a local high school - the students always blow me away with their creativity and passion for science!
So now that you know my credentials, you're probably wondering what my tutoring style is like. I aim to make tutoring sessions relaxed yet productive. I take a holistic approach to the learning process: I enjoy getting to know my students' personalities and interests outside of school in addition to their academic strengths and weaknesses. The more I know about my student as a "whole person," the better I can tailor our sessions to his or her unique learning style.
When we work together as a team, you can expect a supportive and judgement-free learning environment, and lots of memory tricks and fun stories to help you understand complex topics. Whether you need help passing your anatomy and physiology class, understanding general biology, overcoming test anxiety, or simply learning good study habits that work for you, I'm ready to help!
When I'm not teaching or tutoring, I love spending time with my family and my goldendoodle, cooking yummy healthy recipes, hiking, and yoga.
Wright State University-Main Campus - Bachelors, Psychology
Wright State University-Main Campus - Masters, Anatomy
What is your teaching philosophy?
My goal as an educator is for my students to truly understand the course material, not simply store facts in short-term memory, while also learning effective study habits. I believe that struggles and setbacks should not be viewed as failure. I myself have struggled as a student in the past, and the eventual achievement of my goals was all the more satisfying for having experienced those frustrations. I also believe that every student has a unique learning style, so I modify my teaching and tutoring methods to meet the student's needs rather than force them to adhere to my style.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would begin with a quick "getting to know you" chat. The more I know about my student as a whole person, the better I can modify our sessions to meet his or her needs. I would then talk with my student to identify their academic strengths and weaknesses, and to determine specific learning goals for our sessions. At the end of the first session, I would give my student a "call to action" - a clearly defined and manageable task to be completed before our next session. This would give the student a boost in self confidence (look, you achieved something already!) and allow them to get into the mindset of making steady progress, while I develop a more detailed learning strategy.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Students who are frustrated usually need a quick boost to their self confidence. When you feel like you're failing at everything you try, the smallest achievement can often brighten your whole outlook. For these students, I assign a short list of easy to manage tasks to get them back into the mindset that they are capable of reaching goals. For students who have been making steady but very slow progress and are about to reach "burn out," I would help them remember the big picture by making a list of overarching goals. I had many days as a student when I didn't think I would survive that day's homework until I stopped to think about why I was in school in the first place. Once I remembered my long-term plan, I was able to make a series of short-term strategies to reach my goals.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would try to find some way to make that subject relevant to the student's interests. When I teach general biology to non-science majors, I frequently meet students who say they don't like science or aren't good at it. I try to get to know the student - what subjects they do enjoy, what hobbies and interests they have - to find a connection between a subject they struggle with, and something that they like or are talented at. I'm lucky in that I teach life sciences because living things are everywhere, and if nothing else, most "non-sciency" students are at least interested to learn more about how their own bodies work. And if all else fails, I have an arsenal of biology-related stories that will make even the most stoic student say "Whoa, cool, I didn't know that!"
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I like to use a variety of assessments when working with a student. For casual, low-stakes, "I know you're just starting to learn this" assessments, I could ask leading questions, help the student draw a simple diagram, or have them ask me questions so I can get a feel for how they're progressing. Later on, when the student has a deeper understanding of the material, I would ask the student to pretend I know nothing about the material and have them try to teach it to me using any method they're comfortable with. I've found this is a great way to assess the student's understanding and identify specific strengths and weaknesses.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I emphasize to all my students that failures and setbacks do not mean they're not a good student or can't learn the material. In fact, a student who struggles with a particular subject often ends up eventually having a deeper and fuller understanding of that subject than someone who picked it up easily right away. More specifically, I like to use lots of positive reinforcement. If a student is feeling very frustrated, it can help for them to remember their achievements, no matter how small. Here's an example from a recent encounter with a student: The student couldn't remember the differences between eukaryotes and prokaryotes and was getting extremely frustrated. We had just gone over plant and animal cells, so I asked him to jot down some characteristics of those cells. Then, I asked him to think of a bacterial cell, and jot down some characteristics of that cell type. He was able to do that with no problem, so the issue was not that he didn't know the difference between the two cell types, and when I told him that, he felt more confident. We were then able to focus on the vocabulary words themselves and find a way to associate the words with the characteristics. Just finding that one thing that he DID know gave him the self confidence to move forward.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Of course this depends on the specific focus of that day's tutoring session, but typically I use as many visual learning materials as possible. This could include drawing pictures, coloring in diagrams with colored pencils or crayons, color-coding notes with highlighters, or making and using flashcards and flowcharts. For in-person tutoring sessions, I've also used hands-on materials such as play doh and other crafting supplies. And yes, this all applies to students of all ages, up to and including college students!
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Oftentimes, when a student is struggling to learn a particular concept, the student just needs to see the topic from a different angle. At this point, I would switch up my tutoring style and try different ways of explaining the topic (some students love analogies, others prefer a more direct approach), or using different modes of learning (e.g., using more hands-on techniques if the visual learning approach wasn't working). Once we found a learning technique that seemed to be working for that student, I would outline a specific goal and task list, and then revisit that topic frequently in our tutoring sessions.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
It's very important to establish a rapport between tutor and student. The student needs to know that I am dedicated to supporting and guiding them, and I need to know that my student is dedicated to trying their best and putting in the necessary work between tutoring sessions. This is often established through a simple "getting to know you" meeting, where I ask the student about their hobbies and interests, what they like and dislike about school, and do some quick assessments to determine their academic strengths and weaknesses. During this time, I also let the student know a bit about me - my educational background, my experience as a teacher, my own hobbies and interests, and a basic description of my goals and expectations for our tutoring sessions.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Every student learns differently, and a teaching technique that worked well for one student yesterday may not work as well for that same student tomorrow. It depends on many factors, such as the student's default preferred learning modality, what subject we're working on, how the material was originally presented to the student, and the student's mental and emotional state at that particular time. When first starting out with a new student, I always do some assessments to determine their overall best learning modality. But I've also learned over the years to read a student's body language to tell when they're following along, when they need to revisit a topic, and when they're getting frustrated and need to totally change the approach to that topic. I've worked with so many students, each with a unique individual learning style, that I can almost always find some way to cover material in a way that works for that individual student.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Being an independent learner is really all about knowing how to use the right study tools. I've worked with students in the past who are highly intelligent, but were struggling in school because they didn't really know how to study. And I can sympathize with that because I myself was in the same predicament many years ago. So a big part of my tutoring sessions is not just understanding the specific class material, but learning good habits and techniques that can be applied to any kind of learning in the future. I find that many of my students don't know how to take good notes, effectively use the notes they did take, ask the right questions, get or stay organized when studying, manage their time and stress levels, take a test the "smart" way, etc. These are all hurdles we will address and overcome in our tutoring sessions so that the student will not only be improving their understanding of the current topic, but also laying the groundwork to succeed in future classes too.