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Michael

I received a master's degree in education in 2013. My undergraduate majors were American history and sociology, with minors in anthropology, American studies, and Spanish. In the past, I have tutored individuals for specific classes and for test preparation (SATs and GREs), although I now specialize in working with high school students.

I recently moved to Los Angeles, and I have begun tutoring part-time while I work to establish my writing career. In addition to writing and films, my other interests include basketball, hiking, and travel. Subjects that I prefer to tutor include English, algebra, writing, SAT preparation, and introductory Spanish.

Undergraduate Degree:

 Ball State University - Bachelors, History and Sociology

Graduate Degree:

 Keiser University - Masters, Education

SAT Composite: 1570

SAT Math: 770

SAT Verbal: 800

Basketball, hiking, watching films, and comedy writing.

What is your teaching philosophy?

You have probably read about the controversies regarding Common Core teaching methods. I don't feel that a teacher should be chained to a single pedagogical idea. My teaching philosophy is, simply, to do whatever it takes to help a student learn. Tutoring specific subjects is an excellent way to accomplish this, as I can modify my teaching practices to the individual student. In addition, in certain subjects I find that my own enthusiasm and confidence help inspire a student.

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

The first session isn't necessarily built around learning new things, but rather establishing where a student currently is in his or her subject. So first I'll talk to a student to try to gauge his or her interests, and then, if possible, incorporate those into the lesson. Depending on the subject, we may also do a short survey on what the student has learned thus far.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

One of my teaching goals, regardless of the subject, is to empower students to take ownership of their own education. I make sure every student knows that he or she is responsible for his or her own learning outcomes. Students retain knowledge through active participation, not through passive listening.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

The answer depends on the student. Some students are highly self-motivated, and simply need a little bit of variation in their lessons to stay on path. Others need to be engaged on a more philosophical level. Sometimes it's worth taking a few moments to explain how these courses directly impact the paths they'll take through college, and how certain skills they learn here will be useful in their daily lives.

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

Ah, this is the core reason why a student would need a tutor. The learning path in a traditional school is forever moving forward. If a student struggles with one concept, he or she will continue to struggle with any idea that builds on that concept. So my role quite often is to look backwards. Occasionally students need a few more iterations on a particular skill to gain comprehension. Other times, we'll need to find a core concept from earlier in the course that needs more clarification and practice.

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

I use two major concepts to improve reading comprehension. The first is simple enough -- I act as what David Raudenbush calls a "reading role model" -- I will read a passage out loud, pausing to annotate what I'm thinking about as I read certain sentences. Often teenage readers will get stuck in what I call the "recitation voice," wherein they will read the words in their head, but not stop to think about them. I teach students how to break long passages down into smaller, digestible chunks. In addition, when teaching specifically for test preparation, I can show readers techniques for how to skim a passage for relevant information.

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

The exact strategies vary by subject, but speaking in very general terms, I try to first ascertain what a student currently knows. Then I work with the student (or sometimes his or her parents) to determine what our exact learning objectives are. We create a realistic timeline, and then we can concentrate on specific lessons.

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

This all comes down to knowing a student. I do like to know what a student's interests are -- that way, I can tailor lesson plans to try to incorporate those interests. It's also good to define specific goals, so that the student knows when he or she is making positive progress.

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

Regardless of subject, the key to ensuring that a student understands material is communication. Even if a student selects the correct answer on a multiple-choice question, it's important to periodically have him or her explain the reasons *behind* that answer.

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

Positive reinforcement through verbal and written communication is a great way to build student confidence. I also like to revisit old lessons so that a student can see how much progress he or she has made, and how those old lessons build into new ones.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I ask for previous examples of a student's work in the subject. If I'm teaching a class on writing, I'll ask for the last essay they performed. If it's math, I'll ask for a couple of recent homework assignments. I also like to have them read a couple of problems to me, as I find reading comprehension is a common problem, and it ties into all other coursework.

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

Much of the individual adaptation takes place before a lesson begins. This is why it is so important to review a student's previous work -- I find out how much he or she comprehends right now, what learning gaps I may encounter, and what objectives we need to set. During the lesson itself, the activities and directions are going to be guided by what was observed before the lesson ever began.

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

I ask the student or his/her parents to bring their course syllabus, textbooks, homework, and recent assignments. These items will help me evaluate needs, and they generally provide more than enough practice material for a typical tutoring session (I do have separate material for test preparation classes, but that's a different animal altogether). I encourage students to bring notecards or a notebook with questions they came up with during the week.