I am a firm believer that even challenging subjects can be learned, but it's an issue of HOW it is taught. I tutor using a varied array of methods--aural, oral, visual, manipulatives, pictures, etc.--in order to make the concepts clear to those I tutor. It's important to be engaged with the material, and the best way to do that is to answer the question, "Why do I need to know this?" It's hard to get into square roots when you see absolutely no use for them! It becomes more clear when you learn how you actually use them in daily life, and how you can use them in other fields. Learning-as well as teaching!- has to be engaging, fun, and free of pressure and judgement. I am a highly qualified teacher, and have taught everything from Hi-Set to Biology, Algebra to Earth Science. I specialize, however, in Biology, AP Biology, and college Biology, Pre-Algebra, Algebra, and other biological sciences.
Arcadia University - Bachelors, Biology
Western Governors University - Current Grad Student, Curriculum Design and Instruction
GRE Analytical Writing: 5
Anatomy & Physiology
CLEP Introduction to Educational Psychology
High School Biology
High School English
Study Skills and Organization
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is that while the old saying is true that "all students can learn," it is not true that all students learn the same. I believe that teachers need to address multiple intelligences when teaching (such as kinesthetic, visual, auditory, tactile, musical) so that students not only truly understand the material, but can apply it to the world around them. By being able to apply classroom knowledge to the outside world via multiple intelligences, the student truly develops a deeper depth of knowledge of the material, as well as of the world around them. Finding out the best way a student learns is not easy, but is the best service that can be provided to a student.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In a typical first session, first I determine where the student stands with the course material: do they just need a little extra help? Do they absolutely hate it? I also determine what their attitude is towards being tutored--do they feel "stupid?" Do they view me as an equal? Understanding a student's attitudes helps me to decide how to approach the material. For a student, for example, fearful of math, I would find ways to show them that they can already do math, but may not have ever looked at it that way (musical abilities, cooking, etc.). I then determine the student's aptitude--why are they struggling? Once I determine a baseline of where help is needed, I work with the student and develop a three week plan that we write down. We develop "SMART" goals for the first three weeks of tutoring, and I show them the path of how we are going to get there. In that first session, it's crucial that the student feels that you are working with them, not talking AT them, so developing a sense of a team is imperative.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Students become independent learners by confidence. As I teach a student and incorporate real world examples, I start to ask them to come up with examples on their own. Students, after a time, will start to volunteer how they used their new skills in the real world that week. Once the student is confident that they CAN learn the material, their self-esteem rises and they start to hunger for more information and explore topics on their own. I also try to give the students fun websites to go to that help with the material at hand (there are some great science and math websites that use games to reinforce skills, and often I challenge students to beat my score at their leisure throughout the week). Confidence in themselves is key to becoming an independent motivated learner.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
This depends purely on the student. Younger students seem to work for a token economy better, such as coupons for a local eatery, while older students feel babied by tangible motivators. I use specific positive praise and instant feedback to motivate both younger and older students, such as "I really like the way that topic sentence is supported by those next two sentences you wrote." Hearing instant praise is important when motivating students. At times, I have worked with teachers of the students as well to write positive notes on their assignments that show improvement, such as "I am so proud of how you have finished all this work!" It takes a team to motivate a student, so the more family and teachers I can get involved, the better!
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
First, ensure that the student knows the basics. A student may not be able to divide fractions because they don't know how to multiply. If a student is having difficulty, I pare the concept back to the very basics and ensure that there is a base to work from. If the student has the basics but not a more advanced concept, I try teaching it in another way or using an example that is NOT in the subject we are doing. If a student can picture the topic in a real world example, it makes it easier for them to grasp it on paper. Reassurance is also key, for students will often give up because something seems "too hard"--I have to show them that we can take it small pieces to make it much more manageable.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
There are many causes for a lack of reading comprehension. A student may be struggling to sound out words and not paying attention to what is being read, or a student may be trying to rush through an oral assignment so they just say the words on the page. The first step is finding out where the comprehension difficulty lies. I give several levels of reading materials and ask the student to read to themselves, then read to me, then tell me what they read. This lets me know if it's an issue of reading below grade level, being unable to read orally (but they can read silently), or a case of speeding through. From here, I can develop a better method of helping the student, from high interest-low level readers (high schoolers needing to read things of interest to high schoolers), to games of "tortoise and hare" reading.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Establishing a sense of team as opposed to teacher/student; establishing expectations of what I have for them, what they have for me, and what we have as a team; and developing 'SMART' goals are the most successful strategies I have found, regardless of topic, to use when starting work with a student.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Find out what their interests are and link the material to their interests. If they like ATV's, bikes, video games, etc., it is easy to incorporate math and science. If they struggle in English, it becomes about finding reading material and ways to connect it to their hobbies (such as critiquing reviews written of their favorite video game). The key is making students understand WHY what they are learning is important and how it relates to the world around them, not just the classroom.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I use constant formative assessment with my students, such as asking them if they understand, but I also ask them to show me what they know, how they would solve it, what they think the next step may be, etc. As a tutor, I am not there to give them formal tests, but I am there to ensure they know the material for it. Therefore, tutoring is a time to ask questions, make mistakes, and show off their understanding--and sometimes lack thereof. The student needs to be, in a tutoring session, unafraid to make mistakes, because in correcting their mistakes they also learn from them and show understanding.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Confidence comes not only from getting the answer right but not being afraid to get it wrong. I employ direct, immediate, specific praise, which helps build confidence. I work with a student when the answer is wrong to uncover their mistake, then build upon it to get the correct answer. Knowing that someone is with you every step of the way, but also every misstep, is a big confidence builder. As comprehension rises, then so does the confidence, but you have to have that baseline of reliable support.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I'm a special education teacher by training so I constantly evaluate. Is the student needy? Distant? Hesitant? Enthusiastic about everything BUT the topic at hand? Struggling with reading directions? I continually formatively assess a student by work samples, behaviors, and responses so I can tell what will best help a student to learn and to be successful.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Tutoring IS adaptive teaching, and I use whatever means necessary. Once I have evaluated how the student learns, I try to teach using those methods. For instance, if the student is visual and I'm teaching them English, I use color coding and highlighters. If the student is movement oriented, I use hand signals to help them remember what comes next. I have the opportunity to teach specifically for my student, so I take advantage of that.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
There really isn't anything I have NOT used. I have used markers, highlighters, colored loose leaf, whiteboards, impromptu "field trips" to point out features outside, chess boards, Jenga pieces--whatever gets the point across. I try to avoid YouTube and the like during a tutoring session--they can watch videos outside of our time, but I utilize any resource that will work.