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Courtney

I graduated from Oklahoma State University with a BA in English and a supplemental teaching certificate before I started teaching at Perry High School in Perry, Oklahoma. After a year teaching there, I traveled/volunteered abroad, tutoring a theatre actor from The Czech Republic. I quickly realized how much I enjoyed one on one tutoring, working with the individual and unique needs of each student. During my classroom teaching, I tried to integrate 1:1 help, conferences, and workshops as much as I could as I believe each student learns in their own way and each student deserves the opportunity to have personal, guided help. I am able to tutor just about anything having to do with English as my degree and much of my time spent in college was focused heavily on that. Once I got my teaching certificate, I realized just how much I could potentially help students who really need it. I have always been incredibly passionate about the benefits of reading, writing, and education in our world and I hope to pass that onto my students. I currently live in Houston, TX and in my spare time I read, do yoga, scrapbook, journal, hike, travel, spend time with family, and take long walks in the park.

Undergraduate Degree:

 Oklahoma State University-Main Campus - Bachelors, English

Reading, Writing, Journaling/Scrapbooking, Yoga, Exercise, Watching Movies, Spending Time with Family, Traveling, and Hiking

American Literature

College English

College Level American Literature

Elementary School Reading

Elementary School Writing

High School English

High School Level American Literature

High School Writing

Middle School Reading

Middle School Reading Comprehension

Middle School Writing

Spelling Bee

What is your teaching philosophy?

I am very invested in my student's learning growth over time and think it's important for them to see how much they have grown themselves. No student is going to be perfect at first, but as long as they put in their full effort, they will see improvement and they will not fail. I want to help them through that process as much as possible because it's also rewarding for me to see that I have successfully educated a student. I know from my own personal and teaching experience that reading and writing on one's own time and in their schooling helps tremendously in all areas of academia, and thus is something I will always strongly encourage. Specifically, I strongly adhere to the multiple intelligence theory which posits that each student learns in a variety of different ways. When I'm teaching, I aim to reach as many of those intelligences as possible. Along with that, I believe in the hierarchy of the learning pyramid, where lecturing leads to the least amount of retention, while practicing and teaching others leads to the greatest retention rates. A hands-on, immersive, guiding approach is one that I tend to take. I also believe the Socratic method, wherein I guide students to the correct answers by asking them questions and observing where they take it. I like this method because it is very important for students to know that they are succeeding at and responsible for their own learning. I will be as invested in my students as they are with themselves and their own academics. I honestly believe students can go as far as they want to go with their education as long as they put in the effort and have the right people to help them.

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

My first session with a student will be an introductory session wherein I try to pinpoint what a student is struggling with and how they learn best. I would also like to get to know them a little bit so I am able to relate my materials to them in order to create a stronger connection. I think lessons that they view as topical and useful will motivate and encourage them to put in the time necessary to improve.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Students can become independent learners if they knew a few strong, useful tools that they can utilize on their own time. Specifically, there are many online tools to help students in their free time with reading comprehension, writing, literary analysis, etc. Especially when it comes to literature and writing, it's important to read and write on their own time. I have a few specific tools that I myself have used with students in order to help them with reading comprehension and essay revision, for example. As long as they know and use these tools until they feel comfortable, it can be very helpful to use on their own time so they will be confident in their reading, writing, and test taking abilities. For example, if a student is struggling with reading comprehension in order to write an essay or just for the sake of comprehension, I would use an exercise with them that has worked well for me in the past, specifically with ESL students. I will read a short passage from a text and then pause so the student can draw the scene they pictured in their head as I read. They will have a piece of paper with a series of boxes wherein they will draw these scenes in sequential order. This helps them understand how important it is to visualize what they're reading so more connections are made in order to retain more of what they read.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

I believe if a student feels that what they are learning is useful for them in the real world, it becomes infinitely more important to them, and thus encourages more intrinsic motivation. It's very important for a student to be intrinsically motivated as opposed to motivated solely by grades. I think this can be accomplished by being able to show them how much they improve. Many people thrive when they are able to tangibly see how much they have grown in their schoolwork. I believe, especially with younger students, positive incentives can work as well with a variation of a rewards program.

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

If a student struggles with a skill or concept, it's important to try different approaches, specifically using the multiple intelligences theory. For example, if a student doesn't learn by listening and taking notes, then perhaps they will learn by doing a hands-on activity. If changing the method of instruction doesn't work, then maybe going backwards and laying a stronger foundation for the skill or topic will be useful, taking a step back and building up stronger than before. It's necessary to break things down and set attainable goals so the student won't get overwhelmed and start to shut off from the concept as a whole.

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

I find it very helpful to assist students with visualizing what they're reading as they're reading. The more connections they make in their brain with the material, the better chance they have of retaining and comprehending what they've read. Taking notes while reading, highlighting, and writing a summary of what they've read as often as they need is also helpful so they can start connecting the pieces of what they're reading into one coherent whole. I struggled with reading comprehension when I was younger, and I found that I was reading too fast. Simply slowing down and savoring what you read can be helpful, and sometimes a student needs guidance with this.

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

Students get more excited and engaged with a subject or a certain concept when they feel that it's important to their life outside of school, or if they believe it will truly help them in their future. If they're struggling with a subject, it can be helpful to find a way to relate the subject to their life, even using pop culture references to get them excited. If you can relate it to them using a different perspective, then they might find it more enjoyable.

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

In order to ensure a student understands the material, I would use a variety of different assessment techniques. They can be as simple as pre-tests/post-tests and quizzes. The assessment could be more complex and interesting such as having a student creatively show what they have learned about the material. For example, instead of asking a student to write a summary over a book they've recently read, I might ask them to instead re-write the ending using all the same characters and fitting in with the rest of the story. Or, if a student was to prove they understood a certain grammatical or syntactical concept, there are many creative online games and tools that we could use together to be sure they understood. Also, if a student could teach the material back to me using a short lesson or giving an in-depth explanation as if they were explaining to someone who has no previous knowledge of the material, this would help with their retention and would also let me know if they truly understood the material.

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

I believe a student builds confidence in a subject when they can see their own improvement and successes. I would help them keep track of their work and do similar assessments throughout my time with them so they could look back and observe their own growth. When they can see how much work they've put in and that it has actually helped them, they will feel better about the subject. I know that encouragement from me can be helpful, and I always make sure to tell my students about the improvements and positives that I see in them. I also want to make sure I don't start off on a level that they haven't reached yet. I want to start with material that they're comfortable with and build them up from there, slowly and confidently. If a student has trouble comprehending what they're reading, then they're not going to be able to deeply analyze it. I would need to guide them in comprehension, first starting with concrete details in the story, and working my way up from there through plot, sequential events, character relationships, etc. After a student is comfortable with those elements, then they can move forward with thematic and metaphorical elements. Repeating these steps will ensure they remember how to build themselves up on their own so they can continue their growth in education.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I would like to start off with a student either asking a series of questions, which will help me understand the way they learn the best, or creating a questionnaire that will help me evaluate their needs. I need to know if they're on-level with their class. I could evaluate this by giving them a few different writing and multiple choice tests, which wouldn't count against them but would allow me to see where they are with the material of their age group.

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

If I feel that a certain method of instruction isn't working with a student, I will change my method until I find an avenue that works with a student. If I need to slow down or break the material up into smaller pieces, then I can easily do that.

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

I typically would use online interactive tools with a computer, print-outs of various assessments and lessons, and writing material for writing practice and assignments. I would need whatever classroom materials they have that are necessary for the subject. I would like to have a variety of different materials with me so I can be sure to tutor them in the way that works best for them.

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

I have found that ensuring a student feels encouraged and motivated is definitely always helpful. It's also very important that they know I am the teacher/professional and they are the student. I am putting in valuable time with them as they are putting in valuable time with me, and thus it is necessary to respect each other and give forth effort. Usually I begin with more lecturing, talking, and assessing so I can correctly evaluate what level the student is on with their current grade. Once I see where they fall, I will then try to incorporate more kinesthetic, hands-on activities to see if this helps motivate them or retain information better. It's important to see what means of learning are available to them so I can make sure they continue building on what we work on in tutoring in their own time.