In my personal academic career, I've had learning and tutroing experiences where I felt like I was just hitting a brick wall. If I was able to retain the information, it wouldn't stick - I'd be carrying a heavy mental load and just doing my best to dump it on my test paper.
My goal as a tutor is to help students not only be able to answer the specific question in front of them, but to understand the deeper concepts and ideas behind the question. That way, you're not tripped up during exam time when wording or variables change. More than this, I try to keep the experience fun, laid back and free of frustration. Every student has their own approach to learning, but I'll work at your pace and your style to get you on track.
Tufts University - Bachelors, Psychology
SAT Composite: 2280
SAT Math: 750
SAT Verbal: 750
SAT Writing: 780
10th Grade Reading
10th Grade Writing
11th Grade Reading
11th Grade Writing
12th Grade Reading
12th Grade Writing
8th Grade Reading
8th Grade Writing
9th Grade Reading
9th Grade Writing
College Level American History
College Political Science
High School English
High School Level American History
High School Political Science
High School Writing
Middle School Reading
Middle School Reading Comprehension
Middle School Writing
What is your teaching philosophy?
I try to help my students fully engage with the material. In my view, rote memorization is basically like carrying a heavy weight and dumping it as soon as you don't need it anymore. That just adds stress to your life, and that mindset leaves you in a bad position to actually retain information. If you're actually understanding the subtext of what you're learning, be it the ebb and flow of an essay or the historical context of Jimmy Carter's one-term presidency, tutoring flies by a lot more quickly.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Frustration and stress don't do anything good - if you run into a problem you don't know how to solve, with the right preparation, odds are that the problem is easier to solve than it appears. I like to backtrack and go over what exactly they're testing. Or, if this is a test like the ACT, solve some questions we know we can nail. Then we can come back with fresh eyes.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
My main goal would be to get a sense of which areas they felt most comfortable in and which they felt weakest in. I'd usually look over some past exams and quizzes with them, and possibly come up with a few sample questions of my own to gauge their baseline.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Especially with more interpretive subjects like English and History, I'd focus on the ability to find through-lines with information in order to tell a story or narrative from it. The first step, of course, is being able to correctly remember and find that information. But once that's in place, I talk with the student to guide them towards finding a way to make sense of it and tell that story.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Oftentimes, the reason a student is detached from a subject is 1) their teacher in school doesn't teach the material in an engaging way or 2) they've been so bogged down by tedious exercises that they miss the forest for the trees, so to speak. I try to find new ways to see the broader subject. Take history - if a student has been conditioned to see it as a rote memorization of dates and facts, I guide my sessions to a more story-like approach. What were certain characters' motives, and what evidence can we find to support the idea that they were publicly saying and thinking two different things? That puts the subject in a whole new light.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I do this by figuring out where their baseline is, how quickly they seem to be able to learn, and then using this info to set goals that are challenging but achievable. By setting very specific focuses and blocking everything else out, the vague nebula of trying to tackle an entire subject gets transformed into digestible pieces. Consequently, a student gradually feels more confident with each piece that they've shown they can take on.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
There are a few different components to this. One is to get a sense of a student's personality. If they're bouncing off the walls hyper, I'm going to need to adapt my style and amp up my energy to meet them where they are. Having a more relaxed pace will make them fall asleep. I also get a sense of their baseline of understanding. Lastly, after seeing some of their previous work and completion of assignments, I can get a sense of how quickly they can absorb new material. I set assignments and goals for them in accordance with those pieces of info.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
For APs in particular, I'll dig through practice exams and find some old material to review with the student. I might use review books as well. For SAT II tutoring, I like to use the study guides for the subject tests.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
First, I like to make sure I'm developing a rapport with the student. If I'm just some random person coming in and trying to help them, I don't have the legitimacy and leverage to push them a little bit later. If possible, I like to just talk with them and go over some past school quizzes and exams. That gives me a ton of information on where they are and which sections we should tackle first.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Students will often say that they understand the material when they don't either to not look like a fool or because they're tired of it. If it's the latter, I try to redirect the lesson's focus temporarily to another topic. But before the end of the lesson, I make sure we come back to that and that they can answer it. Without the fatigue, their mind is clearer and they can approach a similar problem with fresh eyes.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Struggles with reading comprehension can be due to several things. It could be impatience with getting through long passages or even trouble with understanding subtleties like foreshadowing and symbolism. I focus on one section at a time, and ask them to talk me through what they know on first read. I'll go back with them to specific paragraphs that might have conveyed information they didn't totally get. By zooming in on those, and continuing on like this through the passage, we can often get a deeper understanding. I try to use the Socratic Method, however, so that I'm not just feeding them the answers.