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Olivia

I am a graduate of Walt Whitman High School and a current undergraduate at Harvard University. I am working toward receiving a Bachelors degree in Comparative Religions with a Minor in Biology, and I am studying on the pre-medical track. I have tutored private clients in elementary, middle, and high school math for years; worked with disabled students on improving communication and academic skills through the “Best Buddies” program; and taught English language to Russian speakers during a U.S. State Department study abroad scholarship in Moldova. Though I tutor a wide range of subjects, I am most passionate about English, Math, and Public Speaking. In my experience, preparing students for Standardized Testing is immensely satisfying (especially in the Writing and Reading sections) as so much of a student’s success is based on their mastery of testing techniques and strategies. I also firmly believe that Public Speaking, as well as organizational skills, are critical to a student’s level of confidence and advancement in any subject. I understand that each individual student has a unique approach to learning, and I try to pinpoint the most effective study and comprehension strategies for each of my students, so that he or she feels that his or her time is being used effectively, and so he or she can utilize new tools for success in future classes. In my spare time, I enjoy theater (whether that be participating as a performer or singing along to songs in the car), soccer, dance, and reading.

Undergraduate Degree:

 Harvard - Current Undergrad, Undecided

SAT Composite: 2350

SAT Math: 780

SAT Verbal: 760

SAT Writing: 800

What is your teaching philosophy?

I believe that a single method of learning does not work effectively for every student. A student's success lies in the ability to pinpoint the most efficient strategy for learning, whether that be pneumonic devices, graphic organizers, practice problems, or any of the thousands of different educational tools out there. As a teacher, I want to work with a student to provide the individualized attention that they may not receive in a school environment, and cater my tutoring style to his or her personal preference.

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

Right off the bat, it is important that a student be comfortable enough to share with me what he or she believes to be areas of concern. To achieve this, I will spend a minute introducing myself and getting to know the student personally. I often ask questions regarding how the student prefers to study, and then we spend a few moments setting a goal for the session. This goal could be to perform well on a test, improve a grade, or simply to better understand the material. Then if the student has materials they wish to complete (such as homework), we would begin to work through that. Otherwise, I would break out some of the tutor practice materials to have a starting point from which to progress with the lesson.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

As a tutor, my job is to explain material, but it is also to provide tools that the student could use individually in the future to succeed. For example, I explain many math concepts and problems to my students. However, then I also help them navigate the sometimes-tricky process of using a math textbook for help. Once the student has a better grasp of the concept from my explanation, and also has increased textbook literacy, then that may be enough footing on which he or she could stand for the rest of the class. I also love to help students create graphic organizers, flashcards, and introduce them to useful tools and websites. Once the student has a better grasp of the material, these tools can allow the student to learn on his or her own in the future.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

I like to set a combination of short and long-term goals with my students, so that they understand the purpose of the tutoring sessions. A short-term goal could be to do well on an upcoming quiz, or to understand a homework assignment. A long-term goal could be to do well in a class, or to work towards a certain GPA. Setting these goals reminds the student that there is a purpose to the tutoring sessions. Also, I like to use examples from my own life and the lives of my peers, to show how a student can achieve success despite having some trouble. Keeping a mix of goals, as well as some motivational stories in mind can help a student avoid getting discouraged.

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

I like to explain the concept by creating a reference sheet. A reference sheet is a colorful organizer that the student can keep as a paradigm for how to solve a certain type of problem. In English, these sheets can include example sentences and grammar rules. In math, these sheets will involve an example problem with each step explained. Once I have walked the student through the material on the reference sheet that we created together, I will work with the student on multiple practice problems, until the student no longer needs my guidance to remember the skill or concept. In this manner, I slowly wean the student off of the support of the tutor so that, before they know it, he or she is solving the problem autonomously.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

For students who are struggling with reading comprehension, I first help the student create a checklist for approaching a reading passage. This checklist allows the student to focus on one tiny aspect of a passage at a time, to avoid getting overwhelmed. I help the student develop a system of annotations that allows them to mark up a passage and divide it into more meaningful sections. I also help them approach multiple-choice questions effectively, by addressing strategies of elimination.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

When I work with a new student, I have found that the tutoring session runs most smoothly when the student is comfortable with me. As such, introductions are always in order, and I try to identify with some of the student's interests. It is also imperative that I am on the same page with the student and that we have the same goals for each session. That way, the student does not feel that his or her time is being wasted, and our progress is more efficient. I also try to understand how the student learns, and I work with the student to devise a plan for how to approach the material together.