Since elementary school, I have been intrigued as to how many of the things I came into contact with worked; however, the explanations I received were always either too vague or beyond my knowledge at the time, I have come to realize that the key word for all my questions was physics, where the most complex phenomena of the universe can be explained by fitting small pieces of the puzzle into a structured theory. My passion for mathematics is another factor in my choice of physics as a degree subject. I find complex problems in both physics and mathematics very challenging, and this enables me to embrace physics as more than simply a major or a degree, but as a personal endeavor.
Due to my upbringing as a youth in a single parent household with limited resources I was inspired and motivated to work harder; hence I approach the difficult most challenging questions with enthusiasm and an open mind. I participated in extra activities where I became an active member at the California State University of Dominguez Hills Nuclear Physics Laboratory, and in 2009. I began research in the Search for Neutron-Antineutron Oscillations at the Super-Kamiokande Observatory and Nucleon Decay Experiment, as well as Gamma Ray Burst 080319B associated with Upward-Going Muons. Additionally, I have tutored students helping them to achieve higher grades.
In summer 2011 I managed to seize the opportunity of shadowing a graduate student at the University of Idaho as he prepared samples and analyzed Nanoporous Thin Films for his dissertation. I was also given the opportunity to observe the planning and modeling stages of a new process when I attended their Research Experience for Undergraduates Program. Watching the application of the laws of physics being carried out before my eyes was fantastic and an extra motivator for me.
I intend to continue studying and preparing for the future, in the fields of either Theoretical or Experimental Condensed Matter Physics, and then continue to get a PhD. Thus I will be able to benefit my community as a productive member of society, in addition to conducting my own research in my field of physics to achieve my ultimate goal of doing something to positively affect the world as a whole.
California State University-Dominguez Hills - Bachelors, Physics
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe in instilling a passion for lifetime learning into my students. One way I instill this passion is by being a model lifetime learner for my students. For instance, in my classroom, you will hear me thinking aloud, interacting with the text during reading, and demonstrating inquiry by asking questions. I believe that every child can reach their learning potential, with high expectations, the necessary support and opportunities, and a caring classroom. I support this effort by greeting each child as he/she enters the classroom, so that each student feels welcome and believes that he/she is part of a learning community. I clearly state the learning and behavioral expectations for my class, and I follow through in upholding these standards. For instance, if a student turns in a substandard project, then I meet with the student, reiterate my expectations, and provide any further assistance or support that the student might need to finish the project. I believe in teaching students with dignity, and in providing a fun, student-centered learning environment. I make sure that every child knows that is they are worthy, by listening to and caring for their needs. I work hard to create a classroom that celebrates achievement and progress. These efforts encourage the students to stay in school and learn. Weekly celebrations in the form of specific task praise, certificates, positive calls home, and group recognition are common in my classroom. By the end of the school year, each child will be celebrated for some contribution to the class or a skill they have developed.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I need to chat with the kid. I will never ask about Math or English or History initially. In the first five minutes or more, I don’t care about those subjects. A lot of tutoring is about rapport, and first-impressions are key. I need to make sure I am someone your child feels comfortable talking to. I will ask about life at school, about interests, about TV shows, anything. I will add wry commentary -- never goofy, clowny distraction, but the kind of humor that lets the student know that I am listening and thinking about the things that interest them. I want to laugh with them and laugh at myself in the first fifteen minutes.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
One of the prerequisites of independent learning is the ability to work on your own, with minimal direction and with confidence. This includes a sense of how to manage one’s own learning as well as how to respond to difficulties or challenges. In such a situation it is necessary that the teacher takes a back seat. After all, how can a student be independent if their teacher is taking the major role in their learning? A question arises. How can we be sure that our pupils are being independent learners if we are not closely involved with what they are doing? Ultimately, we cannot be completely certain. We have to have some faith. This faith is a manifestation of the belief we have that our pedagogical approach has cultivated independent habits of mind in the students we teach. In this sense, the faith is based on evidence, albeit evidence which is not total and which can be contradicted. Stepping back, we now find ourselves in a position where we must ask how we develop independent habits of mind, such that we can allow our pupils the space in which to be independent.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Students can sometimes lose their drive and need to regain their focus in order to kick-start their motivation. They can start by working to determine what is fueling the lack of motivation and reduce/eliminate it or find a new path. Students should set goals and place a determination about the future in his/her mind, and that instructors can help them to see a goal that getting the work done can help them achieve. On a similar note students should be encouraged to think about where they currently are and where they can be after graduation, a positive picture of career aspirations and success can indeed be inspiring. Speak to their instructor or an advisor. If you make yourself available to a student in need of guidance regarding course matters, that can be a great help. A student may want to do some introspection about what he or she really wants to do, what his or her interests are, and realistically evaluate his or her abilities. Then with help from a trusted counselor or instructor, develop a plan. As the student completes step by step with success, he or she will be motivated to continue. The student can reevaluate the plan at any point.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
One of the most difficult aspects of becoming a teacher is learning how to motivate your students. It is also one of the most important. Students who are not motivated will not learn effectively. They won’t retain information, they won’t participate and some of them may even become disruptive. A student may be unmotivated for a variety of reasons: They may feel that they have no interest in the subject, find the teacher’s methods un-engaging or be distracted by external forces. It may even come to light that a student who appeared unmotivated actually has difficulty learning and is need of special attention. While motivating students can be a difficult task, the rewards are more than worth it. Motivated students are more excited to learn and participate. Some students are self-motivated, with a natural love of learning. But even with the students who do not have this natural drive, a great teacher can make learning fun and inspire them to reach their full potential. Encourage Students. Get Them Involved. Offer Incentives. Get Creative. And Draw Connections to Real Life Situations.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Monitoring comprehension: Be aware of what they do understand identify what they do not understand and use appropriate strategies to resolve problems in comprehension. Metacognition: Identify where the difficulty occurs, identify what the difficulty is and restate the difficult sentence or passage in their own words. Look back through the text and look forward in the text for information that might help them to resolve the difficulty. Use graphic and semantic organizers: Help students focus on text structure as they read. Provide students with tools they can use to examine and show relationships in a text and help students write well-organized summaries of a text. Answering questions: Give students a purpose for reading, focus students' attention on what they are to learn, and help students to think actively as they read. Encourage students to monitor their comprehension. Help students to review content and relate what they have learned to what they already know.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Read the syllabus. The syllabus is a critical resource for any course. It is the road map or game plan for the entire course—get to know it well. Print a copy on the first day of class, read through it twice. At the same time highlight, then record the due dates for assignments and threaded discussions in your personal calendar. If you need reminders, add those too. Once the course gets going, review assignment instructions, discussion topics, etc. at the beginning of each week and consult grading guidelines and check dues dates [again]. Step One: Read the syllabus. The syllabus is a critical resource for any course. It is the road map o game plan’ for the entire course—get to know it well. Print a copy on the first day of class, read through it twice. At the same time, highlight, then record the due dates for assignments and threaded discussions in your personal calendar. If you need reminders, add those too. Once the course gets going, review assignment instructions, discussion topics, etc. at the beginning of each week and consult grading guidelines and check dues dates [again]. Ask questions. Instructors want to help, they want students to be successful and expect students to ask questions. When I work with course instructors this is one complaint that is expressed most often about online students, ‘why don’t they ask?’ The virtual space in online learning can be a barrier, if you let it get in the way. If you have a question about course content, need clarification on a difficult concept – ask. Connecting with online classmates and building a learning community is easier than you might think given all of the social tools and applications available today. Reach out to one student, send an email to ask a question, or create a Facebook group for your class, and even create a small study group.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Allowing students to choose the type of assignment they do or which problems to work on can give them a sense of control that may just motivate them to do more. It can be very frustrating for students to complete an assignment or even to behave in class if there aren't clearly defined objectives. Students want and need to know what is expected of them in order to stay motivated to work. At the beginning of the year, lay out clear objectives, rules, and expectations of students so that there is no confusion and students have goals to work towards. A classroom is a great place for learning, but sitting at a desk day in and day out can make school start to seem a bit dull for some students. To renew interest in the subject matter or just in learning in general, give your students a chance to get out of the classroom. Take field trips, bring in speakers, or even just head to the library for some research. The brain loves novelty and a new setting can be just what some students need to stay motivated to learn. Competition in the classroom isn't always a bad thing, and in some cases can motivate students to try harder and work to excel. Work to foster a friendly spirit of competition in your classroom, perhaps through group games related to the material or other opportunities for students to show off their knowledge. One of the best ways to get your students motivated is to share your enthusiasm. When you're excited about teaching, they'll be much more excited about learning. It's that simple. If you're not pushing your students to do more than the bare minimum, most won't seek to push themselves on their own. Students like to be challenged and will work to achieve high expectations so long as they believe those goals to be within their reach, so don't be afraid to push students to get more out of them.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Pose one to two questions in which the student identifies the most significant things they have learned from a given lecture, discussion, or assignment. Give students one to two minutes to write a response on an index card or paper. Collect their responses and look them over quickly. Their answers can help you to determine if they are successfully identifying what you view as most important. Ask your students, “What was their most misunderstood part in today’s lecture -- the reading, the homework, something else?” Give them one to two minutes to write and collect their responses. Identify a set of problems that can be solved most effectively by only one of a few methods that you are teaching in the class. Ask students to identify by name which methods best fit which problems without actually solving the problems. This task works best when only one method can be used for each problem. Choose one to three problems and ask students to write down all of the steps they would take in solving them with an explanation of each step. Consider using this method as an assessment of problem-solving skills at the beginning of the course or as a regular part of the assigned homework. Select an important theory, concept, or argument that students have studied in some depth and identify a real audience to whom your students should be able to explain this material in their own words. Provide guidelines about the length and purpose of the paraphrased explanation. Identify a concept or principle your students are studying and ask students to come up with one to three applications of the principle from everyday experience, current news events, or their knowledge of particular organizations or systems discussed in the course. A week or two prior to an exam, begin to write general guidelines about the kinds of questions you plan to ask on the exam. Share those guidelines with your students and ask them to write and answer one to two questions like those they expect to see on the exam.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
The verbal processing that takes place in conversation with a trusted peer or teacher settles the learner, provides an opportunity to try out the language associated with the new topic, and arms him or her with confidence. Through trial, error and immediate feedback, the student now feels more confident setting out on his or her own to tackle the topic. After learning new material for a set period of time, I'd have the student do a brain dump on a blank piece of paper. This serves the purpose of helping the student realize that learning and knowledge acquisition have been happening. It helps to raise student confidence and is also a useful approach for the teacher to receive feedback and see where gaps exist. I use this valuable approach with students as soon as they receive an assessment, before attempting to answer any questions. Sometimes, a student will look at the first question on an assessment and panic, thinking he or she knows nothing. That can derail the rest of the assessment. Instead, students should spend some time scanning the entire assessment, and look for a positive entry point where they feel most confident. The artist and the musician live inside each student, and tapping into that creative side can unleash the student to learn and acquire knowledge. Sometimes putting the vocabulary in the form of a song will help him master the material and find confidence in the subject matter.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I evaluate a student's needs through activities that help those who get stuck and guide those who are headed in the wrong direction. Quizzes that gauge students’ prior knowledge, assess progress midway through a unit, create friendly competition, review before the test -- quizzes can be great tools that don't have to count heavily toward students' grades. Using quizzes to begin units is also a fun way to assess what your students already know, clear up misconceptions, and drive home the point of how much they will learn. Online Learning Modules. Learning Management Systems allow students to solve problems or answer questions along the way. This can provide you with analytics on student responses and class performance so you can tailor your instruction to their particular learning needs.