I am a Latin American Studies Master's degree candidate at the University of New Mexico. My courses are concentrated in Economic Development and Gender here at UNM, with one of my main focuses being women's empowerment. I completed a Bachelor's in Business Administration and Spanish Literature at Roanoke College in May 2014. I have spent the large majority of my life as a student and I love learning. I graduated with a 3.95 from Roanoke and have maintained a 4.0 at UNM since the first semester. That being said, I believe my GPA is just a number and there is a lot more to learning than the grade received at the end of the semester.
I am whole-heartedly committed to educating myself and others through empowerment, confidence-building, and patience. Everyone learns in different ways but that shouldn't keep knowledge out of reach. If you have trouble learning in the classroom and are looking for an innovative teacher who incorporates the real world into the materials you need to learn, I may be the tutor for you!
Roanoke College - Bachelors, Business Administration and Spanish Literature
University of New Mexico-Main Campus - Masters, Latin American Studies
What is your teaching philosophy?
Education has been my passion since before I can remember. But my personal education was never my only focus. From my youth, when I would read to my dogs and stuffed animals, to my high school experience as a peer tutor for multiple subjects along with tutoring peers in our senior capstone project, to today, tutoring friends and classmates in writing in English and Spanish; I have always been preoccupied with educating those around me. It does not seem fair to limit knowledge to the few who understand it the first time it is taught. Feeling grateful to be one of those few in some circumstances, I have a personal responsibility to help others attain the same knowledge. My philosophy on learning and teaching is that a little patience, one-on-one communication, and kindness can go a long way in helping a student meet his or her academic goals. I believe I provide those three things in such a way that the environment is not only suitable to learning, but also that it is a fun and friendly environment where no judgement is passed. Learning happens at a different pace for each individual. In everyday classrooms, which are frequently overfilled, not every individual finds his or her learning needs met. I am here to fill that particular void and offer students the one-on-one attention they may need to ask questions and further their understanding of the material.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In a typical first session with a student, I create academic goals for the subject that are SMART. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Timed. This session serves as a guide for how the remainder of the sessions will be managed and how the student should be progressing along in the days between sessions. These SMART goals also give students very specific and realistic expectations as to how their hard work will pay off in the end of the term or year.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Students can become independent learners by learning to ask the right questions. In my tutoring sessions, especially in sessions on exam preparation, I like to ask students to practice anticipating the questions their professors may ask. If I can help the student create an exam question from class materials and notes, and then allow the student to seek out the answer to the best of his or her ability, he or she will be able to repeat this process independently. This process is popular in graduate school but it is also an important one for learning outside the classroom because there are no pre-formed study guides for life's unanswered questions.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
My approach to keeping students motivated is two-fold: Be happy and stay SMART. First, I am always available by phone or email for quick questions or inspiration. I am a firm believer in the power of positive thinking and in the idea that sometimes all it takes is a little extra encouragement. Second, I believe SMART goals are super helpful in keeping a student self-motivated because the goals are so specific and action-oriented that it takes away the sense of being overwhelmed or not knowing where to start. Motivation comes easy with a warm smile and action steps!
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
The best thing to do when a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept is to go back to the basics and walk through up to the point of confusion. Once the point of confusion is isolated, it can be explained in detail and hopefully dismantled. For example, in tutoring for Spanish composition, if I constantly notice difficulty with transitioning between tenses, I would first speak to the student about tenses outside of a full body written composition, do some smaller practice exercises until the concept seemed to take hold a bit more, and then see how the composition writing came out.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Practice exercises are the best way to help students struggling with reading comprehension. There are a few good techniques that should be practiced, such as; reading short excerpts and answering straightforward questions (true and false for example); reading short excerpts and answering critical thinking questions; and reading short excerpts and answering questions related to plot, climax, characters, etc. However, I am familiar with some fun techniques that make reading comprehension more attainable such as changing the characters' names in the story to the names of friends or family or talking through the story so it is almost acted out for the student. Regardless of which method is preferred by the student, all it takes is practice with the student for him or her to learn to use the technique independently to better comprehend reading materials.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
The strategy that I have found to be the most successful in working with a new student is creating SMART goals so that my own expectations and the expectations of my new student are written on paper and communicated openly between the two parties. I find this to be the best method because when a student starts to lose motivation, it is easy to refocus him or her on the specified outcomes set on the very first day of tutoring. We are a team and if we stick to the game plan (the SMART goals), we can achieve them together! Setting SMART goals and working with the student to maintain them has proven to be my most successful strategy.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I LOVE motivating students to learn. I find it invigorating to look for ways to show the student how the material will be useful in the real world. If I can adapt the subject matter to a real life situation to make it more meaningful to the student, I absolutely will. Furthermore, as I previously mentioned my emphasis on positive thinking, I would encourage the student by constantly reminding him or her that this struggle is temporary and I have all the faith in the world that he or she will master this subject with just a little practice and positivity.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I love having my students explain material to me or to other students (if applicable). If a student can walk me through a problem similar to ones with which he or she used to struggle, I can be confident that he or she will walk themselves through the steps when faced with the material again in the future. I believe in this technique also because I believe in confidence building in my students. When they teach the material to me, I can reassure them in every step of the way that they have mastered the material and can do this without any help. This confidence-building process helps when the student has to show his or her understanding of the material in class and also helps illustrate areas of weakness where I can focus my continued efforts and teaching.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Confidence comes from encouragement, risk, and reward. When a student is encouraged to try something, takes the risk in doing so, and then is rewarded for taking the risk, the student's confidence in his or her abilities starts to build. Practicing the subject matter will help ensure the understanding but encouragement and reward really build the confidence level.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
The way I determine a student's needs differs on a case-by-case basis. If I am working with a student who is having trouble with a particular class and has multiple tests or exams to show it, I will review the tests or exams to try to create patterns. If there have been no exams, I will typically ask for the student's notes to see if I can recommend any tips for note taking that may create better results. I am also a big fan of open communication. I will usually ask my students how confident they feel in a variety of areas related to the subject in which we are working. For example, when working in a Spanish tutoring session, I would ask the student openly if he or she felt more confident in writing, reading, or speaking. The areas where the student feels less confident should be the immediate focus of the tutoring.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I understand that everyone learns in different ways. Some people need drawings and scenarios acted out in front of them to learn. Some need a written explanation. While others need someone to talk through new ideas with them. I adapt my own tutoring methods to suit these differences by constantly looking for outside-the-box ways to teach. In my opinion, if the lecture-style teaching was working, the student wouldn't have contacted us for help. That's why I like to incorporate YouTube videos, hands-on activities, and options to talk through problems as we tackle them. My methods will largely be based on how the students seem to learn best so that they can learn the material in the easiest way for their individual learning preference.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
The answer to this question will vary based on what type of learner my student claims to be. Regardless, I love to incorporate music, YouTube videos, readings, contemporary issues, talk shows, and other multimedia pieces into the session to make the material stand out as fun and exciting in the student’s minds.