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Vinny

As a young child, I was fascinated with dressing in elaborate costumes and using comical voices to pretend to be someone completely different and extraordinary. I remember begging my brother to play “Knights” or “Cowboys” and, while he reluctantly agreed to put on a costume and join me in my antics, we managed to create literally hours of fictional adventures that felt so real we would completely lose track of our time, wrapped in our own magical world. At the age of five, I had no idea that such behavior could lead to a rewarding life focus in education.
So my passion for theatre began at an early age—whether it was the elementary school plays where I devoted hundreds of after-school hours to rehearsing and performing classic children’s fairy tale stories or the required classroom educational plays. In high school, I discovered theories and philosophies behind my work, methods with which I could experiment, strategies to try out, and ideas to consider and above all, ideas that I could eventually teach to students.
After high school, I attended UC Irvine’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts, and I continued this education further, both onstage and in the classroom. I played with aspects of theatre to which I had never been previously exposed (such as absurdism and film acting) and recently developed my own methods and theories of acting, “Bruce Lee-ing” my technique by taking bits and pieces of the “masters” and combining them into a system that works for me. This is where I discovered my passion for teaching. Watching my teachers work in this environment I realized that so much of teaching is beginning the process. If you can start students, but let them continue on the path, you have done your job. You don't have to teach the "right method" or one that works every time--rather you should expose students to ideas and thoughts and let them choose what is most helpful to them. As a tutor, I have always striven to do only 20-40 percent of the talking in each session and let the students do the work, discovering their own ideas through minimal prompting from me.
Teaching requires constant curiosity, exploration, and re-thinking, and I cannot wait to work with you. To me, all academics are a type of performance and I hope to help you craft your ideas into a more manageable structure that showcases exactly what you want to say. Your work should be the stage on which your ideas are performed—I’d love to help you create and explore those thoughts and theories. There’s no one way to do it. There is only your way! I look forward to meeting you!


Undergraduate Degree:

 University of California Irvine - Bachelors, Drama

Reading, Writing Poetry, Acting, Improvisation, Cooking (or at least attempting to), Reading, Baseball (Go Cubs!), Walking (especially outdoors), studying other languages, and did I mention reading?

10th Grade Reading

10th Grade Writing

11th Grade Reading

11th Grade Writing

12th Grade Reading

12th Grade Writing

1st Grade Reading

1st Grade Writing

2nd Grade Reading

2nd Grade Writing

3rd Grade Reading

3rd Grade Writing

4th Grade Reading

4th Grade Writing

5th Grade Reading

5th Grade Writing

6th Grade Reading

6th Grade Writing

7th Grade Reading

7th Grade Writing

8th Grade Reading

8th Grade Writing

9th Grade Reading

9th Grade Writing

Adult Literacy

American Literature

British Literature

Business

Business Writing

CAHSEE ELA

Clarinet

Classics

College Business

College English

College Level American Literature

Comparative Literature

Conversational French

Creative Writing

Elementary School Reading

Elementary School Writing

Expository Writing

Fiction

Fiction Writing

Handwriting

High School Business

High School English

High School Level American Literature

High School World History

High School Writing

Homeschool

Honors

Introduction to Fiction

Introduction to Poetry

Medieval Literature

Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Office

Middle School Reading

Middle School Writing

Other

Persuasive Writing

Poetry

Poetry Writing

Shakespeare

Singing

Spelling Bee

Summer

Technical Writing

Technology and Computer Science

Vocabulary

Voice

World Literature

What is your teaching philosophy?

I believe that, as a teacher, we are to strive to get the students working and thinking for themselves. Our job is to open them to new thoughts and creative ways of approaching problems, but ultimately to let go and let the student discover what works for them and what doesn't. We don't need to control the learning environment--we need to be open and accepting to students' ideas, and constantly improvising to help the students with what they need, not what we want them to learn.

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

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

You have to look at what you have done in order to get ideas of where you are headed. Oftentimes, students are so worried about where to go next that they forget about all they have accomplished so far. Reminding them of what they have done, where they have been, etc., is critical to keeping them invested in the work. Remembering those feelings of accomplishment will keep them moving.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

I think you maintain the idea of a hands-off approach without being so distant that the student becomes frustrated or disinterested. Keep them talking throughout the session. Let the ideas come from them, and ask critical questions that keep that flow in ideas going. I would be hesitant to insert my own unless a student is really struggling. Questions, especially open-ended ones where there is no real "right" answer, are a valuable tool to keep the student's gears turning.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Students often become discouraged because they are overwhelmed. Help them break each thing into small pieces, discovering the feeling of accomplishment that they get after each task is completed. This will keep their "eyes on the prize."

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

Reading comprehension struggles often arise from not truly reading the actual passage. Many students skim, looking for keywords, and are unclear about what is really happening on the page. I often get students to slow down and really listen to the words by reading out loud. This helps prevent skimming, but also enables combined audio and visual learning for the best retention.

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

Building a solid rapport with a student so you are both comfortable being honest is key to the process. As a student, I always wanted to know what my tutor was really thinking about my work--not sugar-coated to boost my confidence. I wanted the honest answers. As a tutor, I want to know what my students really feel about the session and if what we are doing is actually helping them, or if it is just passing time for them. I want to know if we need to change up strategy, take a break, work slower, work faster, etc.

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

I would help a student discover what they like about a topic. What makes it interesting to them? How can they bring their interests to this subject? For example, if you are really into history, why can't you make your persuasive essay for English class have a historical aspect? Or if you love math, how is delivering this speech formulaic? How is it like an equation that needs solving? By blending the ideas of likes and dislikes, everything can be an exciting topic.

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

I find that if you have a student repeat material back to you in their own words, that that is a good gauge of their understanding. The key is to get them to use their own words. Repeating words from the material can be the result of great memorization. I prefer to hear how the student explains it--that way, not only can you tell if they understand it, but in the process of putting it into their own words they have had to reiterate the idea in a way that registers with them.

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

I like keeping students pumped about the work they are doing. Get them invested in the particular assignment they are struggling with, and you are on the path to confidence in the subject overall. Often the struggle is more mental than anything--students feel they will never be good at this, so why bother? Instead, I try and help them see the big picture--how can this tie into what they are interested in and what they want to get out of the subject? How can we take what they love and mix it with what they feel discouraged about? This way they can start to invest and double down in the "struggle" subjects.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

Often teachers think they can diagnose a student and tell them what they need. I prefer to ask the student what they feel they are having a hard time with--what is hard for them to understand? This way, I get the student working on what they want to work on, and not necessarily what I think they "need"--that's not to say if I do notice an issue, I am going to ignore it. Absolutely not! I will definitely approach everything I see, but I like to hear what the student wants help with too.