My academic background:
In 2009 I graduated from high school. I completed my first year of nursing studies at KPC of University of Alaska Anchorage (2009-2010). I then transferred to Bob Jones University in South Carolina, where I was a nursing student for the next three years (2010-2013). Following this, I worked as a nurse's assistant for a year and a half at Providence Alaska Medical Center, the main hospital of Alaska (January 2014 - June 2015). During this time, I came to the conclusion that nursing was not the best fit for my life. I signed a contract to teach for one academic school year (August 2015 - June 2016) in Majuro, Marshall Islands of Micronesia. During that year, I was a high school teacher of Biology, Physical Science, Health, Chemistry, and Algebra. I taught a total of about 60 students. I loved teaching and decided to come back to the states to finish my college degree with a direction toward teaching. Although I have decided not to become a nurse, I have always enjoyed science and especially have loved my study of Human Anatomy. The class I most loved teaching was Biology. However, I do understand the basics of Algebra and certain science classes such as Chemistry. I also have a desire to teach ESL students in the basics of English, though I haven't yet had training or experience in teaching English.
My current academic goals:
Right now, I am working towards completing my undergraduate degree as a teacher. I will be taking online classes through Master's University in California. After completing this, I am interested in getting my CELTA, the gold standard of TESOL programs. I am considering using this to teach overseas, or to teach ESL students here in the US.
My background in teaching/tutoring:
Technically, I have never been a tutor (though I have been a high school teacher for one year). I have never had official college training to be a teacher or tutor. However, all my life I have interacted with children, teens, and adults in many personal ways which often included informal teaching. I was a Junior Leader in 4H for several years as a teenager. As a Junior Leader, I taught an after school program called "Brain-Busters" every friday to a group of 15-20 middle school students. I went to several schools and health fairs in Alaska to teach about healthy lifestyle and food choices. I helped teach cooking, sewing, and gardening classes in 4H. Outside of 4H, I taught many bible lessons through VBS programs, camp counseling, personal one-on-one studies with adults or teens, an out-of-country camp program, and years of teaching in jail and prison ministries with women. In August of 2015, I began my first year of official teaching. I taught high school students Biology, Physical Science, Chemistry, Health, and Algebra. Each of these classes of 9th, 10th, and 11th graders held about 20 students (60 students in all). I frequently told the students that I would love to work with them one-on-one after school to help them grasp the subjects of science or Algebra that they were especially struggling with. Whenever any of these students came to me after school I did my best to give them whatever time and effort I could to help them succeed. Many days after school I would be sitting for one to three hours with a student trying to help them understand. In this way, I guess I could say I have "tutored" students.
My goals as a tutor:
As I said, I have not officially been a tutor, so I have a learning process to go through myself as a first-time tutor. However, I have great vision for being a good tutor. I am sure that I will struggle and fail at many points, especially at the beginning. However, I want to try my best and always be progressing toward being a better tutor. I believe a good tutor should have these three qualities:
1) Passion for the subject -The tutor must understand the material they are teaching well. Even beyond understanding or being able to master the subject, it would be especially wonderful, if the tutor had an excitement about that subject. While a tutor can't force a student to have the same excitement, I believe the tutor's level of enthusiasm for the subject will greatly affect the student's.
2) Passion for the student -knowing and caring about the subject alone is not enough. A tutor needs to see and care about the needs of their student as a real human being with many real needs in all aspects of their lives. There is so much more to each student than just his academic life. Extracurricular, social, and home stressors on a student's life can have a huge impact on their academic progress or lack thereof. It is important for a tutor to see the student and care about the student in a way that will help them understand how to help the student in their life situation the best they can. I believe seeing, caring, and working with these students can go a long way. The student will know whether or not a tutor really cares about him as a person, and will respond accordingly.
3) Passion for the teaching process -I believe a good tutor should have a zeal for the process and success of their teaching. They should be eager to find ways to help their student master whatever they are studying. They shouldn't just "cover the material" and say they've done their job. No! They should be ready to try many different forms of teaching such as story-telling, drawing, or game activities. A good tutor should constantly be stretching and challenging themselves to find better ways to teach and change up the activities to totally engage the students and get them to understand the concepts being taught.
My reason for tutoring:
I have struggled with learning myself especially in the last couple years of my pursuit of Nursing (2011-2013). I had a dream (to become a nurse) which was extremely important to me and was in many ways my identity. I experienced the pain of having that dream taken away because of my struggles with academic success. This is probably the most painful experience I have ever gone through, which really is a measure of the level of desire I had to complete that dream. In the last 3 years since I left nursing school, I have had time to analyze, process, and think about the reasons I did not succeed. As I look back in my life, I have come to see MANY reasons! If I could go back in time, there are many things I would like to teach myself about about studying and succeeding in educational pursuits. I can't go back in time, but I can talk to other students who are where I used to be. I believe my past experience is one of the main reasons I would so much love to be a tutor. I understand a struggling student's experience, and my heart is SO ready to reach out to them and help them learn the things about education, that I didn't know when I was in nursing.
Bob Jones University - Current Undergrad, Nursing
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would cover some basic get-to-know-you material so the student and I can get to know each other. Maybe I would have some kind of ice-breaker game or activity. I would spend the second half of the session giving a broad overview of the subject, why the subject matters and what we hope to cover in our future sessions together.
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that a teacher should be passionate about the subject being studied, the student, and the teaching process itself.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I would first try to understand what type of learner that student is. Then I would suggest web pages, resources, or ideas of how that student could practice or learn the material on their own.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I would try to show the student the value of the subject being studied, and even more importantly, the value of education in general and the importance of them learning to do their best at whatever subject they have to accomplish.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
There are many resources that give suggestions to help a student with reading comprehension. I would look up one of these resources and go over it with a student. These resources might suggest that the student take a notebook with them as they read. It might suggest that the student overview the bold terms and headings of each of the sections the student will read. It might suggest the student write down their questions and try to answer them as they read. It might suggest highlighting and underlining the main points of each paragraph. All of these things help engage the student's mind in their reading.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Getting to know the student as a person, and allowing that student to get to know me, is important in the beginning so that the student will feel comfortable with my tutoring and so that I will know how to tutor more effectively. I would like to listen and understand what the student's academic goals are (if they are a teen or adult) or what their parents' goals are (if they are a child). I would also think it is very important to communicate to the student the importance of their learning the subject they are learning. I would like to get them excited about this learning process that we will share together.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would try to find ways that that subject relates to their own life. I would try to find story ideas or games that might engage the student better.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Probably my best gauge of a student's mastery of a topic, would be to have the student teach it back to me. I would ask the student to pretend I was totally ignorant about the topic. I would then ask him to teach it all to me in simple, easy to understand words.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I would always look for the successes the student has already had in that subject. I would point to the things we have already learned and accomplished together that the student had previously thought he would not be able to learn. I would enthusiastically (but not fakely) praise the student when they answer questions correctly or are able to explain things correctly.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Results from tests and quizzes would definitely help me evaluate a student's gaps in understanding of a subject. But to understand the student's needs would take more thought and energy than looking at results. I would have to ask, "Why is this student not getting this specific point?" I would need to talk to the student about possible obstacles in their learning. Do they struggle with reading? Do they struggle with note-taking? Are they overwhelmed with extracurricular activities, family/friend emotional stresses, or too heavy of a workload? I would need to really sit down and talk with this student and assess all the areas of his life and learning/study habits.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Once I find the student's specific needs, I would try to find material to help both the student and myself learn how to overcome that obstacle. Once I've pinpointed the problem, I should research online or talk to seasoned teachers about how to help my student.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
If I was tutoring, I would like to see the book, syllabus, and whatever other material the student has been given from their school teacher. I would try my best to help this student work toward the goals that their primary teacher has for their education. I would be open to using other resources such as the internet, if they would be helpful to reach these goals.