I am excited to be your next varsity tutor! Let me tell you a little bit about my myself. I was born in Poland and I came to the United States when I was 5 years old. I am trilingual. I speak Polish, English and Spanish. I have lived in Poland, New York City, different parts of Texas, Arizona and Costa Rica! I completed my undergraduate degree in Elementary Education at Arizona State University and my graduate degree in Special Education and Intellectual Disabilities at Columbia State University. I absolutely adore working with kids! I have a wide range of work experience in Elementary and Special Education. I have taught abroad in Costa Rica for 2 years where I taught kindergarten and third grade. Costa Rica is also where I learned how to speak Spanish. I have taught kindergarten through 2nd grade in Harlem, New York at a founding school. This means I was one of the first teachers to ever teach at this new school. I was on a team of teachers and leadership administrators where I had to develop school mission statement, curriculum, and school systems; which included school behavior management policy, hiring new teachers, school/ parent/student/staff policy and so much more! When I am not teaching or planning, you can find me exploring our beautiful city of Denver (restaurants, coffee shops, different neighborhoods), You will also find me playing volleyball at Rude Recreational Center or playing soccer with my neighbors. Thank you for reading my personal statement and I hope to see you soon and hear all about who you are!
Arizona State University - Bachelors, Elementary Education
Teachers College at Columbia University - Masters, Special Education
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Typically, I like to interview parents and students to see what their strengths, needs, and goals are. I like to ask them what they expect from me. Depending on what the goals are, I then like to move on to taking informal assessment(s), usually 5-10 minutes to track where the student is (grade level) in reading and math; or whatever subject I am expected to tutor.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I like to make tutoring fun! Depending on what motivates the student, I have a lot of tricks up my sleeve. I like to play motivational games, and there are so many! My experience in what students love most is: the student and I "compete" against each other to get the right answer, or earn points for a reward, or turn what we are learning into a fun game. I also like to take mini body breaks with the student, which preferably links the material we are studying to the movement we are using.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
There are so many strategies that work with increasing reading comprehension. But first thing is first. I like to administer a small reading assessment to test all the major areas of reading (rate, fluency, accuracy, comprehension, and writing) as well as see what reading strategies the student is using (stretching out unknown words, decoding, skipping, moving on) to see how the student interprets the text. Depending on how the student does on the assessment, I then move on to what the student needs next. Does s/he need a specific reading strategy? Does the student struggle with Wh- questions or inferential interpretation? Is the text that the student is reading at her/his reading level? Many times, comprehension is not reached because the student is expected to read text that is beyond their instructional reading level. Specifically, in reading comprehension, I want to make sure the student is able to identify different types of texts (non-fiction versus fiction, poetry, narrative, etc.). This is important because each type of text needs to be comprehended differently. This is also crucial now with Common Core stressing so much with interpretation of variety texts, particularly non-fiction texts. I can go on and on!
What is your teaching philosophy?
Every child is a unique individual who needs a secure, caring, and stimulating atmosphere in which to grow and mature emotionally, intellectually, physically, and socially. I take it upon myself to provide a safe learning environment that supports risk-taking, invites a sharing of ideas, and supports a sense of community. It is important for me to find out how each child in my classroom learns best. I do this by getting to know my students. This way, I can work off their successes and strengths rather than focusing lesson planning off of their weaknesses. It is important for me to adapt my teaching style towards their learning style(s). There are many different types of learners. Some students are auditory learners, while others prefer visual stimulation, and others sensory. Some students work best in whole group instruction, while others prefer small group, and others prefer to work alone. This is why I use differentiated instruction as my main method of teaching. I feel this is the best way to challenge each child to his/her fullest potential. My lesson plans consist of hands-on activities in a variation of whole, group, and individual instruction. Providing students access to hands-on activities and advanced technology tools creates an opportunity for individual discovery and construction of knowledge to occur. Also, it is important to allow students adequate time and space to use materials that reinforce the lesson being studied. Students are also teachers in the classroom. This is accomplished by them showing off their projects, performances, and sharing personal experiences, beliefs, and opinions. When students have ownership in the curriculum, they are motivated to work hard and master the skills necessary to reach their goals. This later translates to being active members in society. Equally important is having the opportunity to study things that are meaningful and relevant to one's life and interests. Developing a curriculum around student interests fosters intrinsic motivation and stimulates the passion to learn. Modeling respect for all things and people is a crucial priority. In doing so, students develop a greater respect for their teachers, their peers, and the lessons presented in the classroom. In turn, they learn to respect themselves, others, and their environment. Not only is it important to be a role model inside the classroom, a good teacher is also noticed by his/her effort outside the classroom. Establishing a positive collaboration with parents and colleagues keeps lines of communication open, which is then reflected back into the classroom. Also, in taking advantage of professional development opportunities, I can always keep myself up to date with the latest research based advances in education. For myself, teaching provides an opportunity for continual learning and growth. My hope as a teacher is to instill a love of learning in my students, as I share my own passion for learning with them. I feel there is a need for compassionate, strong, and dedicated teachers who are excited about working with children. In our competitive society it is important for students to not only receive a solid education, but to work with a teacher who is aware of and sensitive to their individual needs. I am such a person and will always strive to be the best educator that I can be.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Becoming an independent learner takes time to develop, particularly when a student is 1 or more years below grade level. Many times independent learning is not achieved due to low self-esteem and lack of self-monitoring as well as the work not being on the student's academic level. As a tutor, in this case, I cannot achieve this task alone. I need parental help. Being an independent learner takes encouragement and discipline. What I have seen show best results is having a schedule set up at home that the student follows and parents are actively and positively involved. For instance, when a student gets home from school they eat a snack and then does their math homework WITH the parent. After about two weeks or so of 1:1 parental help, the parent SLOWLY decreases time working with student. This process takes time, but before you know it, the student is doing their own work without any assistance. It is also very important that the work is at an instructional level--not too hard, yet not too easy.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
In this case, there is usually a gap between what the student knows and what the student needs to learn. For instance, if the student is struggling with learning multiplication facts, then there is a chance that the student has not had the opportunity to work with repeated addition. If multiplication is then still a struggle, tools need to be added (e.g., multiplication chart/number line) and then slowly taken away until the student can independently multiply. Also, practice makes perfect. Not only is the right angle in educational approach needed, but practicing learned skills is the way to go when trying to learn new skills.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
In my experience, the best strategy is to get to know the student, both personally and academically. I like to talk about what the student's interests are, and I like to administer mini academic progress monitoring assessments. I then like to get to work as quickly as possible.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I like to link what the student's current interests are to the material that the student is struggling in. I also like to break down the steps to the student's learning style and instructional level.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Progress monitoring is key and needs to be consistent. I have my own tools to progress monitor, and I am also happy to use others that the student's teachers like to see implemented.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Positive encouragement is key. Also, the progress monitoring tools I use -- I share with students in order for them to see their own growth.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
My progress monitoring tools, and I always like to be in close contact with parents as well as the student's educational providers, if possible. They know the student the best so the information they give me is very valuable. This information also speeds up the student success rate.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Every student learns differently. Some of us are visual learners, while others are sensory-motor or auditory learners, etc. The more I tutor the student, the more I understand their approach to learning. I then start teaching more towards the way the student learns.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I always bring my progress monitoring tools, my computer, a wide variety of colored writing utensils, paper, and anything that is specific to the lesson.