I graduated from Grand Valley State University with a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies, an interdisciplinary major that allows students to design their own program of study. My emphasis area was in Neuroscience and Creative Expression; I have an academic background in music, dance, and the life sciences, and I had the opportunity to tutor peers in music theory and piano performance as an undergraduate student. More recently, I completed a 10-month term of full-time service with the AmeriCorps program City Year Detroit, a national non-profit organization that aims to stem the dropout crisis in the United States. It does this by placing diverse teams of AmeriCorps Members in bottom 5% schools. During my time with City Year, I provided support to a class of 37 fourth graders; I co-organized and co-facilitated after school programs and school-wide initiatives; and I provided data-driven interventions in behavior, Math, and English Language Arts to fourth graders at risk of falling off track in those areas.
My passion for education relates to my desire to empower others with knowledge, allowing them to achieve their dreams regardless of their circumstances. This philosophy manifests itself in my instruction style, which I do my best to make extremely personalized, pragmatic, and fun. While my background has given me flexibility in the areas I am able to tutor, my favorite subjects include English, Writing, and standardized test prep. In my spare time, I can be found reading books about neuroscience and physiology, swing dancing, and trying new, complicated recipes. I am excited to be contracting with Varsity Tutors because doing so will allow me to help others reach their educational goals.
Grand Valley State University - Bachelors, Interdisciplinary, Neuroscience/Performing Arts
ACT Reading: 31
GRE Verbal: 165
Elementary School Math
High School English
Study Skills and Organization
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy involves inspiring students to become highly self-aware learners; to see the importance and practical value of learning in their everyday lives, and to actively seek learning opportunities in all avenues of life.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
During a typical first session, since a quality instruction is based on a quality relationship and good communication, I usually introduce myself and get to know the student a little. I typically share my teaching philosophy and instructional style and gather qualitative information about the student's learning style, personal interests, academic and life goals, and self-identified strength and growth areas. Depending on a student's needs, I may also administer diagnostic tests or drills in order to get a quantitative sense of where a student is at academically. Time permitting, I then address any pressing questions or concerns about the student's academic materials. Finally, I wrap up by briefly summarizing the session, establishing the general objective of the next session (when applicable), and set up the next time to meet.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I help students become independent learners through three different methods: achieve buy-in by addressing people's personal interests, offer students subject-agnostic strategies to use as they work without me, and establish good study or learning habits through intentional coaching. As an educator, one of my most pivotal roles involves fostering a love of learning, and I do this by tying academic material to people's personal interests or ambitions. If students have a genuine, invested interest in their own learning, they eventually tend to seek the answers they need independently. Additionally, having a toolkit - or a helpful set of strategies not specific to a particular subject area - can foster a student’s independence. Once I teach these strategies, students can use them to support their own learning or troubleshoot areas of misunderstanding themselves, rather than having me do those things. Finally, sometimes students may take personal interest in the material, and they may already use some helpful strategies, but they may not have good study habits. After showing them which habits may be undermining versus supporting their academic success, and after establishing better habits, I feel confident students will not only maintain those habits, but they will also have fostered the awareness and the ability to critically examine how their behavior may impact their success. Offering a combination of these three things can ultimately help students take the reins on their own education.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
When students have a challenging time learning a skill or concept, I tend to try a variety of methods to troubleshoot. Generally, I’ll first revert to the “I do, we do, you do” approach of teaching and learning. This means that I, as the instructor, will first demonstrate the skill or provide an example of what the skill or concept is at its most basic level (I do). Perhaps this means setting up and solving similar math problems, for example. After that, I'll do another problem or example with the student (we do), putting a little bit more of the cognitive load on the student and doing parts of the example, but also having the student do parts of the example. Finally, I will let the student do the problem in question, or do another, similar problem with as little input from myself as possible (you do). During this whole process, I may ask leading questions to ascertain where the student's gaps in understanding are, and I may set up information so that students can close those gaps on their own. Also, I'll usually break the concepts down into their most fundamental parts, and then, once student's confidence levels are increased, I will reward them with more challenging examples or material. Sometimes, if students still don’t reach a point of understanding after breaking things down and going through the “I do, we do, you do” approach, I may set the troublesome material aside for the time being or encourage a “brain break” to let the concepts marinate while we work on something else. This allows students a break from frustration they might be experiencing. It also allows their brains to make connections while they work on different material - they may come to the answer while working on something else entirely.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
When students are struggling with reading comprehension, I initially assess for a few common, contributing factors. Depending on the age and the reading level of the student, some students may struggle with reading comprehension because they struggle with accurately decoding words, leading them to guess words incorrectly or read slowly. In these cases, I review basic phonetic principles with students, and I encourage them to use context clues to figure out unfamiliar words. Another common reason students struggle with reading comprehension is that they aren't personally invested in what they read, reading to get through the words and the reading, rather than to interpret the meaning of the words together. In these cases, I usually have discussions with students about why general reading and the specific material matters to them. I also encourage students to ask "why does this matter to me?"? and "how does this relate to what I already know?"? of whatever they read. This can increase buy-in and make students' studies more meaningful. Related to this strategy, I also have students preview their reading before they dive in, having them ask those same questions and having them connect their reading to what they already know. Finally, a third reason students may struggle with reading comprehension is that they may read slowly or may have a challenging time making sense of the meaning of words as they are structured grammatically, syntactically, etc. In these cases, I have students use context clues-- such as diagrams, pictures, previous paragraphs, their personal knowledge, etc.-- to help them figure out what the text is saying. Furthermore, I encourage students to re-read the material as many times as they need to in order to figure out the overall meaning of the text. Simply addressing one or more of these common comprehension issues can dramatically improve students' reading comprehension.