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Sarah

I began tutoring my senior year of my undergraduate degree. I earned a B.S. in Marine Biology from the California State University of Long Beach. I have always been passionate about science, especially subjects relating to biology. It is highly rewarding to share my excitement for science with others and to hopefully make them excited about learning as well. After I graduated, I came right back to CSULB for my M.S. in Biology, which will be completed by the coming spring. I am studying the stress response in English sole near a wastewater outfall site and at other sites away from the outfall. I am analyzing the cortisol hormone and the contaminants found in the fish liver to test for relationships between the two. During graduate school I have tutored for various colleges and organizations, and I became a teaching associate for human biology at CSULB. Combined, I have over 4 years of tutoring and teaching experience.
Throughout these experiences, I have discovered that I would like to make teaching others my career. This semester I have started taking the prerequisite classes for a single subject teaching credential. My goal is to become a high school science teacher and start more advanced biology, marine biology, and human biology programs at a school that currently does not offer these. I would also like to teach one or two classes in the evenings at a community college. If I become that whacky science teacher that students have fond memories of, and look back and say, ‘I learned something in that class’ then I have accomplished my goal.
Aside from my academic interests, I have other hobbies. I am an avid swimmer, I swam competitively throughout high school and still get up early at least four days a week hop in a pool and get a workout in. When I have more time, I also enjoy surfing and bodyboarding. I volunteer as a deckhand from time to time on a dive boat, and am currently working on my master diver certification. I try and travel as much as my schedule and funds allow, and have visited many of the national and state parks located in California. I have also been to several other states, and look forward to exploring more in the coming future.

Undergraduate Degree:

 California State University-Long Beach - Bachelors, Marine Biology

Graduate Degree:

 California State University-Long Beach - Current Grad Student, Biology

Academic Interests: Marine Biology, Endocrinology, and Toxicology. Hobbies: Swimming, surfing, and scuba diving.

College Biology

Ecology

Elementary School Math

Elementary School Reading

Elementary School Science

Elementary School Writing

High School Biology

High School Chemistry

High School Writing

Life Sciences

Marine Biology

Middle School Reading

Middle School Science

What is your teaching philosophy?

To focus on each individual and provide custom strategies and support that will best suit his or her learning needs and abilities.

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

Provide time to get to know one another, as the student must be comfortable with the tutor for a rapport to develop. Then I would assess what knowledge of the subject the student already possess. Next I would assess how the student best absorbs information provided to them so I could customize the session to incorporate certain strategies.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Never give the students answers right away, but instead ask them leading questions that help direct them on the pathway to figuring out the answer on their own. As they learn this skill, they will incorporate it more independently. I also have a wide array of study tips and techniques that they can try out when studying on their own, to see what works best.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Focus on the progress that they have made, and make sure to constantly provide encouragement during the tutoring session. Even small steps of progress are still progress, and the student should be made aware of that. I am very enthusiastic and energetic about the subjects that I tutor, which helps motivate my students even more.

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

If I have explained a concept one way and the student did not understand it, then I try other approaches. For example, if we just talked through a problem and the student is still lost, then I may try drawing out an example or having the student draw it with my guidance. For other concepts, there are sometimes very helpful animations that can be found on YouTube, and I will have the student watch one to see if a visual representation is helpful. I may also go back to previous concepts and show how these relate to the new concept and how they may be of use.

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

There are a variety of techniques that can be used to help boost reading comprehension. Instead of giving a student an entire chapter to read, and then summarize, I break things apart. It may be by the page, paragraph, or even just a few sentences. Once the student has read a section, I then ask questions about the section and start a discussion. For more visual students, I ask them to draw a representation of what they just read. I also ask them to make outside connections to other material or experiences from their own lives. This helps them assign meaning to what they have just read and make more of a lasting impression.

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

It is important to first get to know the student and let the student get to know you. As you will be working together closely, a good rapport is necessary for the tutoring relationship to be successful. Next, I ask the student what he or she may already know about the class and what areas they feel they are having the most difficulty with. Then I try to find out what ways the student best absorbs information (e.g. visually, verbally, etc.). I will then incorporate this into the rest of the session. I then quiz the student informally on past concepts to see what information they already possess and what concepts should be covered. I build on the past concepts step by step, with comprehension assessments after each step. I also have the student explain the new concepts to me at the end of the session to assess how much information they retained.

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

The excitement starts with the tutor. I bring enthusiasm about the topic to the session; if the student sees that it could potentially be fun or at least not excruciating, they may mirror my attitude. I also make sure the student receives adequate encouragement, and I highlight their strengths. This helps to build confidence, and critiques are given in a positive manner rather than focusing on negativity. I also try to apply the knowledge that they are gaining to a real world situation, to show that they are not just learning some abstract concept.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

There are a multitude of ways to assess for comprehension. During the session I ask one or more questions after each new step or concept. If the student can answer them, we move on. If he or she cannot, we go back over the section again. At the end of the session a mini-quiz can be given, or I may ask the student to explain the new concepts to me as if they were the tutor. Having the student teach me is one of the top ways to check for understanding, as well as helping them assimilate the new information into coherent thoughts. If a new concept can be demonstrated in a visual way such as a concept map, a diagram, a sketch, etc., then I may ask the student to draw it out. For certain subjects, students can demonstrate their understanding by writing out a paragraph of what they just covered in a time span of several minutes.

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

First, start off by highlighting what the student already knows about the subject. Ask them questions that may be easier to answer. Slowly go over the new concept step by step. Ask them leading questions instead of just giving them the answer; this helps them feel more confident because they are thinking through the problem. After each step, question them about what they just learned, and give them compliments on what they are doing well. Build up a positive experience instead of focusing on the negatives like what they just missed. Critiques still may need to be given but can be given in a positive manner, such as highlighting something they did well, and then saying they could maybe look over another section again just to be sure they got all the information. Keep increasing the difficulty of the questions throughout the session but make sure they are not all extremely difficult; the student should walk away feeling that they have accomplished something each session but still know that they need to study on their own between sessions.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

I first identify what areas they are struggling with, whether it is the content of the course, staying focused, creating efficient study habits, or managing their academic schedule with their other schedules. I then orient the tutoring session to focus on the areas that they are struggling in. I also make sure they are engaged throughout the entire session, and will change tactics if the student is not comprehending what we are reviewing or if they appear to have lost interest. I make sure the pace is appropriate for each individual; not all students progress at the same rate. Some students may also require more encouragement than others, so I pay close attention to how each student reacts throughout the tutoring session and provide positive motivation as needed.