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Sam

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I graduated from Colby College in 2013 where I received a Bachelor of Arts in Biology. While at Colby I also minored in Classics and played Rugby four all four years. After graduation I came home to Manhattan to do an AmeriCorps term of service at a community health center in Harlem and to study for my MCATs. I'm currently done with my medical school applications and am waiting to hear back from schools. It's very important for me to form a connection with whoever I'm tutoring. I see myself as much more of a motivator than a teacher. My primary goal is to get students interested in their subjects, realize what they're capable of achieving and understanding, and to become truly passionate about pursuing deeper knowledge. I do this because I have seen that troubles or stumbling blocks arise more often in students that find themselves disinterested in the subject matter. This idea also applies to standardized test prep. These tests are written to be tricky and frustrating, but by working closely with a student and showing them not only how to answer the question, but how to take the test, I believe that I can effectively light a fire of motivation and help that student tackle studying. The sciences are especially important to me, an understanding of them equates to an understanding of the world around us and therefore an interest in them reflects an interest in our world. Science isn't just facts and lab reports, it's being able to take knowledge from one scenario and apply it on different scales in order to increase ones appreciation of what's around them. In my free time I enjoy reading, fishing, hiking, playing with my pet dog and rabbit, and cooking.

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Sam’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Colby College - Bachelor of Science, Biology, General

Hobbies

reading, fishing, hiking, playing with my pet dog and rabbit, and cooking.


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

No one can learn a subject well that bores them, otherwise it goes from learning to just a task. I believe that getting students motivated is the first step to success when it comes to subjects they may be having difficulty with.

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

I think it's important to get to know whoever I'm working with. I don't like being just a face that comes around once or twice a week to assign homework and drone on and on about a subject. Really, we're partners tackling a project, and while I'd try to get a grasp on base level of knowledge and what exactly seems to be blocking my student, getting to know them as an individual is vitally important to me.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

To be a self-motivated learner a student has to find their drive to learn. Sometimes it's about helping that student discover that they're actually interested in the subject in question, other times it's about having them see the long-term consequences of not grasping the material now.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Constant feedback is important, as well as keeping track of improvement in our own sessions. One method of tutoring can't work for everyone so being flexible with teaching plans is also important for keeping motivation high.

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

A lot of times in this situation I've found that to go forward we need to go back. It often has to do with a misunderstanding about an earlier more basic concept that's muddling up the works. If that's not the case however, it's important to know your student so you can construct an explanation that works for them. The square block isn't going to fit into the round hole no matter how many times you try, so being able to change your approach is vital.

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

Reading comprehension is difficult, but I think the fix is actually very straightforward. There are two things that one needs to do. The first is to make sure to do practice questions every day. It doesn't have be a lot, but it needs to be every day. The second is to just read more. Whether its books, magazines, newspapers, or online articles students need to get used to reading for reading's sake and gleaning what's important.

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

When you first start working with someone, building trust is important. I usually like to take the first session or two and tackle something that's been a chronic problem. If we start off our work together by showing that we can get rid of a long-standing issue then motivation is up, trust is up, and hopefully the subject is a little more bearable.

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

At a time like this I think it might help to think of the subject outside of the realm of the classroom. The sciences are a good example. A student struggling with physics might only think of physics as a chore and a series of lectures that are causing them trouble. But showing the student that an understanding of physics equates to an understanding of the world around us, and therefore an interest in it reflects an interest in our world and might get them engaged again.

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

The best way to make sure someone understands the material is have them teach it back to you. A favorite method of mine is having them 1.) Give me a quick lesson and then 2.) Write me a short quiz. This way I can make sure they've fully understood a concept, and are already thinking about what questions they may be asked.

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

Practice, practice, practice. The best way to build confidence is to do practice questions. Seeing your percentage go up and up shows you not just that you're improving your score but that you're learning.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

Talking to the student here is vital. You can review their old tests and that will help, but you're not going to get to the root of the issue unless you put in the time, actually sitting down and talking about the student's views of the subject and seeing exactly where they're having problems, and if there's any common denominators between those issues.

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

I try not to go into a new tutoring session with anything too set in stone. Keeping a student motivated in my number one priority, and there's no single method that works for all students. Some can stay motivated by just doing practice questions, some need more breaks than others, and some will need you to assign more work between sessions. Being able to adapt successfully comes from knowing your student, their personality, and what you can reasonably expect from them.

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

I tend to believe that for the most part textbooks overcomplicate things. Test prep books on the other hand do a great job of distilling information while also providing questions with explanations.


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