A photo of Barbara, a tutor from Boston College


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One of the most wonderful aspects of teaching is that no matter how often I teach or read something, students will still find something new in it to teach me. Teaching is finding out what really matters to the student and approaching the subject matter through that window. My teaching degree is from Harvard and it was there I learned the significance of those connections. My actual English degree stems from Boston College. I have taught English in every grade from sixth to twelfth, finding the best parts of each of those grades. My twelfth grade classes were grounded in SAT Preparation and College Application Essay writing. My tenth grade classes had to be grounded in state testing preparation, where I never once have had a student fail and always had at least two students achieve perfect scores.

Barbara’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Boston College - Bachelor in Arts, English

Graduate Degree: Harvard University - Masters in Education, Curriculum/English


Gardening, old house restoration, lots of crafts

Tutoring Subjects

American Literature

British Literature

College Application Essays

College English

College Essays

Comparative Literature

Elementary School Writing


English Grammar and Syntax

Essay Editing

Expository Writing

GED Prep

High School English

High School Level American Literature

High School Writing



PSAT Critical Reading

PSAT Writing Skills

Public Speaking

SAT Reading

SAT Subject Test in Literature

SAT Writing and Language

Test Prep


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I have found that when working one-on-one, there is virtually nothing a student cannot learn.

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

A good deal of the first session is spent learning about the student's background, interests, abilities, and is then followed with some type of practice or evaluation.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Once a student appears to be growing comfortable with the work, I step back and first let him or her attempt portions of the work without help.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

I frequently advise the student on what is proceeding well, as well as keeping the parents updated on the progress.

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

I would step down to the previous step, and then gradually provide small instruction into the desired step, with lots of teaching examples and discussion.

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

One of the biggest ways seems to be the SAT type question method of finding the main idea of a paragraph. Once students can do that, they are more comfortable with what they are reading.

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

I learn the student's interests and find reading or develop writing topics on some of those points.

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

I would try to find a way into the subject from material I have learned about the interests of the student.

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

I frequently step back and allow the student to independently complete work, and then check it for understanding.

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

I do that by providing frequent responses to correct methods and answers.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I almost always begin with some basic evaluation materials of the subject(s) we will be pursuing.

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

I cannot even imagine any type of tutoring that is not built around that particular student.

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

The materials are completely based on the particular student and the material to be learned.