I am a young teacher licensed in Massachusetts in high school English. Perhaps one interesting fact about me is that I originally come from Slovakia, which did not prevent me from obtaining a BA and an initial Master's degree in English as well as a Master of Arts in Teaching degree with a specialization in high school English.
When I was still in Slovakia and before my travels began, I graduated from a rather demanding bilingual, Franco-Slovak high school, which was one of the ten best and most difficult schools in the country. I was lucky because that choice prompted me to follow a new dream and I was able to get into a college in Paris, France. I lived there for five years, working and studying English (a fact that surprises everyone). That is where my initial masters comes from (initial, because in France an MA is split into two parts and I am in the process of finishing my second master's thesis). During my time in France, I also participated in a couple of Exchange Programs - I spent a semester at University of East Anglia in England while finishing my BA, and during my masters degree I spent a year at University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The following year, I decided to stay in the United States and I was accepted to Smith College in Northampton, MA, from which I obtained my Master of Arts in Teaching in one year.
Tutoring-wise, I taught both English and French formally and informally throughout my college years and that to students at all kinds of levels. I really enjoyed helping others learn and I always tried to make it interesting and not seem like too much of a hard work, even though we were sometimes tackling the mechanics of expression behind some of the most complicated philosophical concepts. At other times, I would teach the very basics of French grammar and pronunciation or coach 6th grade writers struggling with basic essay set up or I would guide students writing analytical essays or personal statements for college admissions.
After my graduation from Smith College, though, I obtained a job as a special education camp counselor, which was an extremely demanding, but very enjoyable one-on-one work. I think my participants and employers valued my personalized care, patience, and constant enthusiasm. Afterwards, I proceeded to teach 12th grade English at a charter school in Massachusetts. Most of my classes there were very small, which helped me perfect my already individualized approach to students. It could be said that the core of my educational philosophy is the belief that with the right scaffolds, every student can improve and maybe even find passion in the initially most discouraging subjects. I think that as a caring teacher who strives to make the learning relevant and the goals achievable through small steps, I will make your time worth the effort.
I hope that together we can help you reach whatever goals you set.
Smith College - Bachelors, English
Smith College - Masters, Education
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that all students can succeed if their teachers find proper ways of engaging them, and helping them proceed with care in small, manageable steps.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I might ask a student about his or her reasons for seeking a tutor, and for his or her goals and expectations. I will also be interested in the student's preferred learning styles, availability, and expected length of tutoring. Content-wise, we would do an informal evaluation of the student's skills and dive right into the desired content.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I prefer to be a "guide on the side" - I tend to provide questions that would lead the student to the kind of thinking that would put him or her on the path towards the solution. I also like to teach my students how to set short-term goals and especially how to monitor their progress, so as to teach them how to re-evaluate the steps necessary to be taken to reach their goal.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I try to make the material relevant and relate it to my students' real life. I also like to vary my approaches, because novelty helps people stay interested. One of my other favorite strategies is to simply ask the student what they would like to do and then adapt the material or the approach to fit their requests as best as possible.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I slow down the process. Sometimes reading shorter texts can reduce the anxiety that ends up blocking the student. Analyzing just one sentence at a time, and showing the student that they can reach a full understanding of it can be very empowering. It always depends on the students, but I also often tell them what they will be reading about ahead of time, and can even provide them with guiding questions that help focus their attention to the crucial points.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I think that connecting with the student, and showing that I sincerely care about her or his success, helps engage students right from the beginning. I also like to help students reach even a small success early in the process, to give them the confidence and positive attitude needed for effective learning.