I have never been the type to gloat, but before I can remember, I've been instructing. When watching home movies, it became a running joke in our family how often I was found, barely 3 or 4 years old, yelling random facts at people and demanding in a tiny squeaky voice that they answer my trivia questions. I began to tutor younger children during my high school years, quickly learning that my gifts in science and mathematics were not common, and many of my peers could benefit from a little extra tutelage.
In my time as a student, both in high school and in college, I participated in many extra curricular activities, such as soccer, softball, golf, boxing, mathletes, WAB Lab (Wicked Advanced Bio Lab), marching band, orchestra, the Student Senate and as a club Embassador for three of the student-run clubs on my campus. Today, I volunteer for a group called Outbound Dorchester, which encourages young students and previous students who dropped out of school in the Dorchester area to continue their education, and to offer support and assistance when needed. I also volunteer for 'builds' with a group called 'Working for Worcester', which goes to impoverished and underfunded areas in the Worcester area to build playground equipment, desks, and other necessities for elementary and middle school students.
Currently, I am a premedical student at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, with a previous degree in forensic science. I am interested in continuing my education for many years to become a forensic pathologist, also known as a forensic examiner. Their main duties are to determine the cause of death in the event of a possible crime, testify in court, examine the evidence collected at a crime scene, and most importantly- aid the authorities in solving crimes.
Many students, especially young girls, are not aware of how many opportunities are available to them in the STEM fields of study (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). As a first generation female Latina college student, I have made it a personal goal to encourage as many young students, including minorities and young women, to aim high in their goals and to NEVER give up, no matter how impossible their dreams may seem at times. Through countless obstacles and achievements, it became clear that the biggest obstacle each student has to face- is the student.
University of Massachusetts-Boston - Bachelors, Biology
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is simple; if a student wants to learn, they will learn. The biggest obstacle with learning new material is realizing what study patterns work for each student. Not every student learns the same way, and not every subject can be taught the same way. As a student, I know that in science classes I am a visual learner. I need to draw pictures of what I am learning in order for the information to stick. Some other students can read concepts and watch instructional videos. In mathematics, I require practice. Understanding the basics of formulas and functions assists in problem solving at every level, from pre-Algebra to Calculus II. Some students will require multiple practice problems to grasp a concept, and others need the reasoning behind each formula explained to them. I have had experience tutoring in all methods, and can identify a student's strengths and weaknesses within the first tutoring session. Any sessions thereafter will be specifically structured with that student's needs in mind.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
For a first session, I will require that the student upload their syllabus or lesson plan to allow me to get a grasp of what their institution is expecting of them. I will ask them some preliminary questions about their abilities, working from the most basic up to the more complex. Afterward, we will discuss what classes they have taken that they felt they have excelled in, and what about that class made them feel that way (i.e. the professor's approachability, the method of instruction, the homework load, etc.) We will move on to some practice problems, in order to see what areas of the curriculum that the student has issues performing under a small amount of pressure. Once we identify the weaknesses of prompted questions, we can then discuss what options I can provide them as a tutor, and they choose what method will work best for them. Over the following few sessions, the tutoring method will be tweaked each time based off the student's performance and needs.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
A student becomes an independent learner when they can identify the method of study that works best for them. I will be assisting each student to identify their strengths and weaknesses on the first session. The subsequent sessions will specifically work on these weaknesses, utilizing the tutoring method that is mutually agreed upon between the student and myself as the most effective teaching method for their needs. By the end of the second session, the student will ideally know how best to study in order for them to retain the information, and what steps they must take when taking a test; this is usually when students are under the most pressure, and my job is to prepare them for such circumstances.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Students need constant motivation, and often feel defeated when a subject is not easily retained. The best method for motivating students is setting smaller, more attainable goals that they can reach by the end of each tutoring session. For example, if a student is having problems with Algebra, the first session's goal will be to identify WHY Algebra is difficult for them, and where the misunderstandings are happening. Once a student can identify their weaknesses, overcoming them always seems much more attainable. By the end of the second session, the goal will be to develop a tutoring curriculum that is ONLY for them that they feel comfortable with, and to build specific studying patterns that will help the students for years to come. By the end of the third session, the student will be able to solve problems without assistance that they previously had issues with. These smaller goals need to be verbally stated, as well as constantly encouraged and acknowledged throughout each session, until the student no longer feels like they need assistance in that subject.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Using the method of learning is preferred for the student, we will practice each concept in a number of formats until the student feels so comfortable with the topic, they can teach it to me. That is the moment where we can move on to another topic.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading comprehension difficulties are sometimes attention-based, but they can also be retention-based. If comprehension is directly related to the vocabulary in the readings, we will read these articles together, and as we get to a word or phrase that the student does not feel comfortable with, I will rephrase the word or sentence in as many different formats as I can until the student can a) use the word in a sentence on their own, or b) we have developed a way to help the student retain the information in a fun and memorable way.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
The method that has worked best for me is to make the student feel very comfortable with me, and to develop a rapport on our very first session. After that, I will ensure that every subsequent session will cover at least one problematic topic in great detail.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
It depends on the student. Some students are creative, and get excited about using their creativity to help them study. Other students are oral learners, and might engage better if they hear the information, and get to repeat it back in their own words using a preferred method (i.e. in Anatomy and Physiology, some of my peers made fun rap songs to remember all of the bones in the body). The best method, again, is to identify their strengths.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
The student needs to able to describe or duplicate the information/process/problem, or to be able to teach it to someone else. I will make sure that these students can explain each topic in detail.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Attainable goals, rewarding behavior, and using their strengths and interests in their method of study.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I evaluate a student's needs heavily during the first session, but will always be tweaking the lesson structure based off their changing strengths and weaknesses.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
The student and I will determine their needs together during the first few sessions, but mostly during the first session. The adaptability comes from combining their needs with creativity and useful studying tactics.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Videos, pictures, drawing tools, equations, mock tests, practice problems, and any paperwork that the student has from the subject to verify that they are learning the required information for that particular class.