After graduating in 2004 from Washington University in St. Louis with a BA in English Literature, I spent some years developing my craft as a writer of fiction and poetry, working for my family in Somerville, MA. In 2012, I decided to switch careers and focus more professionally on my writing, which I accomplished by returning to school to earn my MFA in Creative Writing. I began this second lap through academia at the New School in Manhattan before transferring to St. Joseph's College in Brooklyn, where I was part of an inaugural first class based around a new style of teaching writing. I graduated from SJC in 2015.
While at St. Joseph's, I gathered experience in the classroom, both as a teacher of the required freshman composition class, as well as a tutor in the school's ACES program. The ACES program caters to international students or students who speak English as a non-primary language. Over the course of my tenure at SJC, I realized that the personal and direct education of the tutor and tutee relationship agrees more with my teaching style than the more generalized teaching in the classroom. I decided to focus on tutoring.
I have recently relocated to Providence with my wife and young son, and I am eager to begin a new era in my career in this city.
Washington University in St Louis - Bachelors, English Literature
St Josephs College - Masters, Creative Writing
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
A typical session begins with the student giving a brief rundown of his or her general interests and preferred modes of working. From there, we move to the student's understanding of the assignment at hand; I require the student to have a firm grasp on both the assignment and the specific areas in that assignment in which he or she needs assistance. In all areas of tutoring, but especially in the area of writing and self-expression, I believe the purpose of tutoring is to not only guide the student through the current assignment, but also to prepare him or her for the next one. This is best accomplished by allowing the student to set the tone of the tutoring session.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
By allowing the student to provide the itinerary for the tutoring session, primarily. The more ownership the student takes for his or her session, the more skills become transferrable to other areas.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
By connecting the practice of writing and reading back to the student's life, and by reminding the student that assignments in these regards are not ends in and of themselves. We live in a world that, more and more, bases itself around written communication. The student might have trouble understanding the relevance of, say, an argument about the moral center of Huckleberry Finn, but less trouble understanding the value of being able to debate intelligently about his or her own interests online, or the value of writing a solid cover letter for a job application.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
The answer to this question, of course, would depend on the student. While one student might benefit from consistent drilling in the area of difficulty, another might benefit from backing off the topic and trying again once other areas have been solidified. One of the main advantages of tutoring sessions is this type of personalized education, so it seems backwards to me to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
First, by varying the types of reading that the student is asked to comprehend. Much can be gained by accessing higher educational concepts through the student's personal interests and by allowing enthusiasm to guide the student through trouble.