I spent twenty seven years as a teacher covering all grades Kindergarten through eight either as a classroom teacher or a reading teacher. My bachelor's degree is from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
I have a master's degree with a reading focus from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I have a master's degree in education administration from Marian University.
My main areas of interest in this tutoring position are in reading and general mathematics for elementary and middle grade students.
My approach is to begin by assessing needs of the student. Sometimes this is done informally and other times it is more of a formal, written process. Once we understand needs, then we can make a plan for moving forward.
Outside of education, I play guitar and steel guitar and restore old pinball and arcade games.
University of Wisconsin-Madison - Bachelors, Education
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee - Masters, Curriculum and Instruction
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is primarily constructivist. I think the student needs to be at the center of the learning process. Children learn best when they construct personal understanding based on experience and reflection.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would begin to get to know a bit about the student. I'd seek to find out what the goals of the student are and what sorts of things are areas of interest. I would then do some initial informal assessment to set a baseline.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
To become an independent learner, one needs to have a sense of responsibility for one's own learning. This occurs when the learner makes decisions about the process of learning. I can help by offering opportunities to make those decisions and help build the sense of responsibility.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I think student motivation comes in two basic areas. One area relies on the student having options in the lesson. The other area requires opportunities to do different things and take different approaches.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
The idea is to provide what is called "a gradual release of responsibility." I start with most of the responsibility of walking the student through the steps of the task little by little. Then I let the student do the parts they can and help when needed. This process continues until the student is self-sufficient.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I would attempt to find out what is behind the comprehension issue. Sometimes it is a fluency issue, meaning so much time and energy is taken trying to read the words that comprehension suffers. Sometimes it is an attention issue. We can do things to help develop focus. Sometimes it is a content issue. We can build background knowledge and let text structures help. It really depends on what is the root of the issue.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I think one just needs to be fair and honest from the start. We should get to know each other a little bit and share our hopes for the process. We should set some realistic goals and make a plan to go forward.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I find some way to build interest. It could be taking an inquiry approach. It could be a bit of background knowledge development. It could be making a game of some rote tasks. It could involve art or music.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
In the constructivist approach the student needs an opportunity to demonstrate understanding. The student and I would create an authentic way for the student to show progress. This leads to an opportunity for me to do both formative and summative assessments along the way.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Success builds confidence. I need to break down the task to ensure the student has some level of success and go from there.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
There is a range of evaluation techniques that go from informal observation all the way to a formal, written exam. Ongoing, formative assessments that are more authentic in nature are my main approach to understanding strengths and weaknesses.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
In a constructivist approach, the student drives much of the direction of the activities. I provide options and structure based on the ongoing assessment.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
It varies depending on student need and interest. I generally stick to things that have proven helpful in the past and have good quality in both content and presentation.