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Patrick

Test Prep Philosophy:

Doing well on standardized tests often comes down to a matter of preparation. But standardized tests generally seek to test students’ problem solving abilities rather than their aptitude for memorization or a particular subject. So how can you prepare for a test made up of unknown content? The answer is to study the way the that test is written, administered, and scored.

Put succinctly, the Graduate Records Examinations (GRE) is challenging because the test tries to make you uncomfortable. The testing environments are tense. Computer testing is not familiar to everyone. The scoring is intentionally complicated, and, if you do well, it gets even harder as you go. Beyond this, tests often try to cloud their questions with unfamiliar words and poorly phrased presuppositions. In particular, the GRE verbal exam relies on questions that are meant to draw test takers into doubting themselves, when the majority of questions are simply asking for a pair of synonyms or antonyms.

Students have an advantage when preparing for the test, in that the questions will come in the same format as the study materials and the concepts being tested can only come from a limited range of options. This means that targeted practice and light studying can prepare a student to test well even in a subject in which they typically perform poorly.

The scoring methodology of the GRE also makes preparation a focus. That is because, students will be offered more difficult (thus worth more points) questions to students who perform well in the initial sections. In this way, getting just 10% more questions correct in a typical 20 question sub-section can increase your score by much more than 10%.


Latin Teaching Philosophy:

Too often, teachers and tutors will delve into their subject matter with cookie-cutter lesson plans, easy-to-grade assessments, and rote memorization techniques. These methods are rooted in antiquated learning models and will only cater to a meagre portion of any classroom. Learning is a reflexive process; this is especially true of my area of expertise, Latin. The improvement of a student’s current understanding should be the central thrust of any lesson plan rather than a schedule of lessons handed down from someone who hasn’t shared a room with a student in decades. I maintain this focus by questioning not just my students for answers but the thought processes that led them to those answers.

When I say that learning Latin is a reflexive process, I mean that the instructors understanding of how well a student in understanding the concepts is as important as the student’s efforts. Imagine, if you will, learning Latin as a ladder. If you are at the bottom of the ladder, the first step must be the first rung of the ladder and advance one by one not skipping or glossing over any of the ‘rungs.’ It is the instructor’s job to track a student’s progression and and to move on or linger accordingly.

The Benefits of Learning Latin:

The Latin language with its lax syntactical restrictions, highly nuanced vocabulary qwerks, and deeply referential style is one of the most expressive and flexible languages in world history. Its writers can weave words together to create a rich and meaningful statement with seemingly endless layers of subtext. What is more, as a millennia-dead language, only the most cherished and acclaimed works have survived, having been marked for saving generation after generation as defining achievements in literature and oratory.

Learning Latin as an English speaker offers many benefits even aside from reading and writing the language itself. Many high school students have a difficult time breaking down very complex sentences, such as reading selections you would find on college essay exams and in higher level college or high school AP classes. Studying Latin helps with English comprehension, especially in complex texts, because to translate Latin into English with any amount of success, a near-complete understanding of English grammar is needed. Latin does not have a native punctuation and includes very loose rules considering word order. Thus, in order to translate Latin into English, you must be able to figure out the punctuation and word order on your own. To my experience, I have never spoken about the nuances of English grammar in more depth than in a Latin classroom in the midst of a translation.

Apart from grammar, learning Latin has a particular benefit that other languages do not possess. Latin is a root language of English, which means that as you expand your Latin vocabulary, your English vocabulary expands as well. This is a two-way street, of course, because many Latin words are similar to common English words.

While improved grammar and vocabulary may be very tangible benefits, the most prolific benefit is also the most difficult to quantify: a drastic paradigm shift in critical thinking. There is currently much evidence of the benefits of learning a language at a young age with many claims as to the impact on a student’s future success. To speak from my experience, learning a new language challenges you to understand an entirely foreign tongue in the same way that a native speaker understands it, which trains you to think differently and exposes you to a much wider view of language and problem solving.


Background:

My favorite subject to tutor is Latin. I have studied the Latin language since high school and I never tire of it. I love to see the wave of understanding wash across a student’s face when they have mastered one of Latin’s more difficult nuances. Latin classrooms often contain multiple levels of students. In fact, for 4 of my 6 years as a student, there were no less than three classes of Latin being conducted at once in the same classroom. This is an unideal way to teach Latin, but it meant that I spent much of my time as a junior and senior in college helping younger classmates.

As a staffer for an international Model United Nations conference, I have had many opportunities to teach students about topics from parliamentary procedure and formal discourse to global politics, concepts in macroeconomics, and governance. One of the main reasons I have chosen teaching as a profession is the remarkable and impressive knowledge that I have seen students display when given the opportunity to show initiative.

My true passion for teaching stems from the fond memories I have of teachers who shaped my life. I have found that the right teacher can have a profound impact on the students in their class. As a scholar of any language can atest to, learning a foreign language changes the way one thinks not just in terms of grappling with speaking or writing in the subject but even in perception of language in general.

I obtained a bachelor's degree in History and Latin in 2013 from Loyola University Chicago, and I am currently working toward a teaching certification in Latin. I was the recipient of the 2013 Classical Association of the Middle West and Southern States Award for Outstanding Achievement in Classical Studies. I tutor Latin 1-4, ACT Reading, ACT Writing, Summer Tutoring, GRE Verbal, Homework Support, and Test Prep.

Undergraduate Degree:

 Loyola University-Chicago - Bachelors, Latin and History

ACT Composite: 32

ACT Math: 34

ACT Reading: 33

ACT Science: 31

GRE Verbal: 165

Running, hiking, fantasy football, video games

Homework Support

Latin 1

Latin 3

Latin 4

Other

Summer

What is your teaching philosophy?

Test Prep Philosophy: Doing well on standardized tests often comes down to a matter of preparation. But standardized tests generally seek to test students' problem solving abilities rather than their aptitude for memorization or a particular subject. So how can you prepare for a test made up of unknown content? The answer is to study the way the that test is written, administered, and scored. Put succinctly, the Graduate Records Examinations (GRE) is challenging because the test tries to make you uncomfortable. The testing environments are tense. Computer testing is not familiar to everyone. The scoring is intentionally complicated, and, if you do well, it gets even harder as you go. Beyond this, tests often try to cloud their questions with unfamiliar words and poorly phrased presuppositions. In particular, the GRE verbal exam relies on questions that are meant to draw test takers into doubting themselves, when the majority of questions are simply asking for a pair of synonyms or antonyms. Students have an advantage when preparing for the test, in that the questions will come in the same format as the study materials and the concepts being tested can only come from a limited range of options. This means that targeted practice and light studying can prepare a student to test well even in a subject in which they typically perform poorly. The scoring methodology of the GRE also makes preparation a focus. That is because, students will be offered more difficult (thus worth more points) questions to students who perform well in the initial sections. In this way, getting just 10% more questions correct in a typical 20 question sub-section can increase your score by much more than 10%. Latin Teaching Philosophy: Too often, teachers and tutors will delve into their subject matter with cookie-cutter lesson plans, easy-to-grade assessments, and rote memorization techniques. These methods are rooted in antiquated learning models and will only cater to a meagre portion of any classroom. Learning is a reflexive process; this is especially true of my area of expertise, Latin. The improvement of a student's current understanding should be the central thrust of any lesson plan rather than a schedule of lessons handed down from someone who hasn't shared a room with a student in decades. I maintain this focus by questioning not just my students for answers but the thought processes that led them to those answers. When I say that learning Latin is a reflexive process, I mean that the instructors understanding of how well a student in understanding the concepts is as important as the student's efforts. Imagine, if you will, learning Latin as a ladder. If you are at the bottom of the ladder, the first step must be the first rung of the ladder and advance one by one not skipping or glossing over any of the 'rungs.' It is the instructor's job to track a student's progression and and to move on or linger accordingly.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

Prior to a first session, I prefer to meet with new students to gauge their current progress and establish their goals. In a first session, I would typically begin with a diagnostic test and then move on to covering some of the all-encompassing themes we will be keying in on.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

An independent learner, first and foremost, needs to be curious. That curiosity usually stems from confidence in the subject and a mastery of the skills it takes to teach yourself. Developing problem solving skills and self-sufficiency is a primary focus area.