I'm a graduate of Saint Louis University where I received my B.A. in English and Communications. After graduation, I joined Teach for America and taught high school English for seven years in south Texas. I've taught students who struggled with English subject, who were below level in their reading comprehension and writing ability, and I've also taught Pre-AP and AP Literature. I'm passionate about English Literature -- specifically, British Literature and also creative fiction. I also, however, understand and advocate the importance of writing skills. In working with students, I strive to make the content accessible and work with the student's interests to help them relate to the literature: I incorporate pop culture, modern day films, and television references to help build a solid foundation to tackle the harder literature they might find difficult. These strategies make the material more interesting and relatable to students.. I'm also a graduate student, earning my MFA in Film Production. I write my own stories, film them, and produce them!
Jose Fernando’s Qualifications
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Saint Louis University-Main Campus - Bachelor in Arts, English
Writing, reading, television, film, comic books, music
10th Grade Reading
10th Grade Writing
11th Grade Reading
11th Grade Writing
12th Grade Reading
12th Grade Writing
High School English
High School Writing
Introduction to Fiction
STAAR EOC Prep
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Create a safe environment for students to learn, and to create work that both challenges and helps students improve. Support is different from giving students answers. My goal is to help students answer the questions themselves by guiding them -- not doing the work for them.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Get to know them a little. Dive deep into some test prep questions to see where their areas of weakness are. If there's a diagnostic test for them to take, then I'll have them take that as well.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
By asking probing questions, and teaching them to ask those questions themselves. Becoming an independent learner means learning how to think critically.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Encouragement and praise. These are crucial to the struggling student. Reminders that struggle is normal and that everyone faces obstacles. The struggle is not what defines us, but what we do with that struggle does.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Break it down as much as I can for them. Develop practice questions that target that specific skill. Try and find real-world examples to make it easier for them to digest.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Scaffolding. Start with large concepts with lower level reading and then slowly build up. In addition, teach them about making notes and asking questions in the margins of their text. For the struggling reader, this is key. Also, encourage them to keep a dictionary handy because that can help, too.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Finding out their interests. Getting to know what they like helps me determine the kind of articles or assignments to develop that will make the sessions more interesting. Students are often more motivated to try harder for something they enjoy rather than what they don't.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Reading and writing is not everyone's cup of tea, but stories are things everyone loves. So, as said before, finding the stories that are relevant to their interest as a starting point is half the battle. From there, choose one or two skills and target THOSE areas in depth so they're not feeling overwhelmed. Plus, it helps if you can make the student laugh.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
The site has online assessments for various standardized tests. Using those are especially useful to gauge mastery.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Encouragement, praise, and keeping them challenged.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Utilizing assessments, both traditional exams through the online tools, or through questioning and discussion.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Each learner is different. Some learn better by doing, some by listening, others by watching. So, depending on each student, I try to cater to what best works with them and what problems they have.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
A mix of the online tools and other teaching material I create or find on the Internet that is relevant to what we're learning (essay prompts, articles, practice problems).