My name is Brendon, and I love to see students flourish in their learning! I have been tutoring and teaching for a few years years now, and what I love the most is building relationships with students and seeing them grow in their abilities and in their confidence in themselves.
I studied Comparative Literature and Spanish at UC Santa Barbara, and I just recently finished an M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages at San Francisco State. I have experience tutoring students in writing, reading, study skills, grammar, and ESL. I studied Spanish in Mexico for 2 months, in addition to studying the language formally for over 6 years in high school and university making me proficient in the language.
I am currently teaching English as a Second Language at San Francisco State, but I look forward to working with new tutees! Thank you for considering me!
University of California-Santa Barbara - Bachelors, Comparative Literature
San Francisco State University - Masters, English: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
What is your teaching philosophy?
As I sit in my seat, the five students in my class exchange well-formulated and impassioned comments on the topic of what true education should do. As the debate continues to heat up, one student stands up and draws a diagram of what traditional education looks like: she draws a circle with a “T” inside, and an arrow, representing learning/knowledge, going to another circle with an “S” inside. She then proceeds to draw another diagram that looks exactly the same, but the arrow is going both directions, explaining that students also have a role in their learning and that it does not only come from the teacher, but rather that students are active participants. At that moment in class, I was amazed and proud of what was taking place. This is a vital part of my teaching philosophy, teachers facilitating students’ active and engaged process in their own learning, but it also includes empowering student autonomy, creating a safe yet challenging learning environment, and encouraging the development of student learning strategies. I started out my vocational journey knowing I wanted to teach, but unsure of what exactly. I started the MA TESOL program at SF State with three weeks teaching experience, some tutoring experience, and not much confidence in my abilities. However, I actively pursued any opportunity to develop my skills: tutoring jobs- such as at the Learning Assistance Center, volunteer teaching opportunities- I volunteered teaching refugees in Oakland at the International Rescue Committee, as well professional development- I pursued an internship and began teaching at the American Language Institute and attended the international TESOL conference in Toronto where I learned so much about the field. All of this has led me to the following beliefs about teaching and learning. Teachers should be facilitators, as opposed to sole holders of authority and knowledge in the classroom. Part of this includes empowering students in their own learning autonomy. In the anecdote above, the students engage in a debate. I, as the teacher, was completely hands off in the process of the debate; the students came to the conclusions about how in traditional teaching knowledge goes from teacher to student, but how in a newer approach, it can go both ways. Students are fully capable of coming to new conclusions and learning on their own, and teachers need to remind students that they are indeed capable of such learning. This does not happen magically, however. The teacher must work to create a space where students can work together and feel empowered, yet supported, to learn. Additionally, the classroom environment should be a place where students feel comfortable to share their ideas and take risks. This semester, I am teaching an intermediate reading/writing course at an academic language institute. One activity we do is a short advertising presentation where the students describe and analyze an advertisement of their choice. All the students did a great job, but one student particularly stood out. During class, this student does not normally volunteer answers, but during the presentation she was confident, articulate, and gave a very informative presentation. Later, she wrote in her journal that presenting was extremely memorable even though she feels the class is very difficult. This combination of difficulty and achievability can only be present when a classroom has an environment that feels safe, yet challenging. The teacher should encourage all students to volunteer information, should reiterate the fact that everyone has something to contribute, and yet challenge the students to take risks. Teachers also have the opportunity to help students develop language strategies that they will be able to use in their future English endeavors. Vocabulary learning strategies, writing and reading strategies, oral communication strategies, as well as cultural, educational (related to the US academic institution), and even social advice (in regards to fun or interesting things to do for international students who have never been in the US or San Francisco for that matter). For example, in my reading/writing class I have students keep a weekly reflective journal in class where they reflect on the class, learning English, and other memorable/important events that occurred in the week. This journal practice is new for some students, but many find it to be meaningful in their own learning and choose to continue outside of the class. It is important to remember, however, that students already come into the classroom with a multitude of strategies that they have been using, so the teacher has a great opportunity to discover what students have been doing, and have a dialog with other students on this and whether they do it as well. As I stated in the second paragraph, I have actively pursued experiences and opportunities in order to further my growth as an English language educator. The skills and beliefs that I have now will serve as my guide as I continue to travel further into the profession. However, these skills and beliefs will continue to evolve as I encounter new experiences, students, information, and research. Thus, the journey of teaching is similar to the journey of learning; it is a lifelong process of discovery, and I intend to embrace that wholeheartedly.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In a typical first session with a student, we would get to know a little about each other, assess the needs of the tutee, and begin to create a plan on how to meet those needs.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
In order to become an independent learner, as a tutor I can encourage the student to do more and more and his/her own with my help. Additionally, we can assess what exactly the students' goals are and find out what both of us can to do to meet those goals, not just me.