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Colleen

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I received my undergraduate education at California State University, Sacramento, with a customized degree program in political science and economics and a minor in child development. Following graduation, I was accepted as the top candidate from a field of 500 applicants for an accelerated teaching program for 30 lucky aspiring educators. In that program, my mentor teacher was the district director of staff development for one of the largest school districts in California, from whom I learned highly effective teaching and behavior management strategies for under-performing students. Over the next six years, I taught everything from 7th grade art to senior A/P physics, but primarily focused on mathematics up through algebra II. Typically I was placed in schools and classrooms that had a myriad of problems, including attendance, behavior, motivation, learning difficulties, and language differences; in other words, the classes nobody else wanted to teach. During that time, I also became well-versed in educational and psychological testing and the IEP process for students with learning disabilities. These experiences allowed me to understand in depth how and under what circumstances children and teenagers achieve success, which benefits all students, regardless of age, background, or past performance. I taught adult vocational education, including college-level English (grammar and punctuation), typing, business writing, and mathematics.

In the second phase of my professional life, I entered the corporate world, first as a training specialist, then moving on to instructional design, training program development, organizational development and change management, and finally, as a consultant for global technology implementations. I became a formally trained editor and wrote and edited thousands of pages of documentation, created computer based training, videos, and web-based delivery mediums, designed and implemented change management strategies, and hosted web and video presentations. In the adult world, success is the only option, as the individual's career and the company's success is dependent upon it. I like to bring that state of mind to all of my interactions with students.

I have guided my own children through the education system and am currently guiding my grandchildren, age 12 and 10, through theirs. I enjoy working with people of all ages, one-on-one, to help them understand what they need to learn and do to achieve success in their educational endeavors. There's a lot of work to do. Lets get started!

Colleen’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: CSUS - Bachelor in Arts, Goverment and economics

Graduate Degree: CSUS - Unknown, Education

Hobbies

Vegetable gardening, Roses, Hiking, Biking, Sewing, Political Studies, Film History

Tutoring Subjects

Algebra

History

Anatomy

Anatomy & Physiology

AP Comparative Government and Politics

AP Human Geography

AP U.S. Government & Politics

AP United States History

AP US History

AP World History

Arithmetic

Biology

College Biology

College English

College Geography

College Level American History

Elementary Math

Elementary School Math

English

English Grammar and Syntax

Essay Editing

European History

Geography

Geometry

High School Biology

High School Chemistry

High School English

High School Geography

High School Level American History

Life Sciences

Math

Middle School Math

Middle School Science

Other

Physical Science

Public Speaking

Reading

Science

Social studies

Study Skills

Study Skills and Organization

Summer

Writing


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

My teaching philosophy is that the teacher's role is to help each child become an independent learner. So rather than create a dependency upon me for learning, I show the students how they can help themselves become successful.

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

In a typical first session, I'll spend as much time as necessary developing a good rapport through a "getting to know you" conversation. I observe how the child converses, interacts, and responds. This helps me learn the child's unique communication and learning style. Following that, I'll ask the student to show me everything he/she has about the subject, including past work and grades. I'll ask a whole lot of questions to get a good sense of where the student stands, both academically and emotionally. There will still be time to address immediate concerns (homework, papers due), so the session ends with a tangible productive outcome.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Many students are unaware of, or do not use, the tools available to them. I help students become independent learners by guiding them through the use of those tools, and most importantly, by NOT positioning myself as the primary provider of answers or knowledge they seek.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

The ways to keep a student motivated are as varied and unique as the students are themselves. So to keep a student motivated, I listen and learn about who that student really is. This allows me to offer short, non-lecture-type "just in time" real-life reasons tailored to that student's interests and outlook on life.

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

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, there are two approaches: compensatory or remediation. Compensatory is appropriate when a student has a relative weakness that simply reflects how their brain functions, meaning that's just how they're built, and it's not going to change. For example, a 17 year-old with a relative weakness in decoding text might just need a paragraph read to her/him to learn and succeed. Remediation is important when there are skill or conceptual gaps not related to brain function that need to be addressed. In this case, I'll address the skill or concept based on that student's primary learning modalities, such as visual, spatial, or verbal, to outline the necessary steps he or she needs to take to fill those skill or conceptual gaps.

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

Struggles with reading comprehension can occur for many reasons. Figuring out the particular reason helps to provide a customized approach to solving the issue. Is the content too complex? Is the reading level of the passage too far above that of the student? Is it motivation? Does the student always have a reading comprehension problem, or is it just this one passage? A student-centered approach requires the tutor to make sure the student can independently and correctly express the main ideas of the passage before moving on. How we get to that point varies greatly depending on which barriers to comprehension we need to knock down.

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

I think the most successful strategy is one in which the student genuinely feels a partnership with the tutor. When he/she knows the tutor is really on their side, success is pretty much guaranteed.

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

I crack jokes about the subject as if it were a typical topic of conversation in a social situation. It gets really funny sometimes, like when we're talking cell respiration or the Pythagorean Theorem. There's an actual "official learning theory" behind this. Turning "boring" school subjects into a fun social experience is likely to help the student become more engaged in that subject.

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

A student doesn't just need to understand the material; he/she also needs to remember it. One of the best ways to ensure that is for them to teach me the subject. If they can't teach me, they don't know it well enough. When they've successfully taught me, they've successfully mastered the material.

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

Students love being told, "You're a star!" "You're really good at this part." "You're very creative." "I like how you approached this." "This is the part where you got it right on the money." "Wow, you're better at this than I am!" "Your teacher is going to be impressed with you." "Look how far you've come!" "I am proud of you for working so hard."