I'm an English tutor, coach and writer currently working towards earning my teaching license in Secondary English Education. I love working with students, helping them through complicated texts, and teaching helping them discover the joy I feel when reading and writing.
My favorite feeling as a teacher is seeing a student's eyes light up and that amazed look when the subject they're studying finally makes sense. It's as if a light bulb goes off behind their eyes, and the excitement that follows is thrilling. To help my students attain that wide eyed wonder, I work with them slowly, going over each part of the text, making sure they understand the decisions they are making. Reading and writing may not be as regimented and subject to laws as math and science, but there are rules and skills students can use in order to determine author intent, theme and context.
I am a firm believer that the Socratic method is the best way to teach anything. By engaging students in a constant back and forth of questions and answers, I help them determine definitions of complicated words, the most likely answer to a multiple choice question, and the best way to structure arguments and essays.
Ultimately, I love reading, writing, literature and teaching enough to make it my career, and I seek to infuse all my interactions with students with that love and excitement, in the hope that some small amount of it will transfer to my students.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: SUNY at Binghamton - Bachelor in Arts, English, General Literature and Rhetoric
Graduate Degree: Georgetown University - Master of Arts, Communication, Culture and Technology
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that asking questions is the best way to learn anything. Knowledge that you work for is far more durable and meaningful than knowledge that is handed to you. I work with my students to teach them how to ask the questions that will elicit the answers they're looking for, whether it’s the appropriate grammar for a sentence, or the hidden meaning within a work of literature.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
My number one priority with my students is to make sure that they feel comfortable with me. The relationship between a tutor and a student needs to be honest - a student can't hide what they're having trouble with. I'd spend a portion of our first session together just getting to know one another. Getting students talking about their likes or interests, in my experience, creates a friendlier, collegial atmosphere. Only after we are comfortable with each other would be begin working on the task at hand.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
As I mentioned in my previous answer, I believe asking questions is the best way to learn anything. As a result, I'm convinced that teaching students how to ask questions - and how to ask the right questions - is the key to creating independent learners. While working with students, I continually prompt them to questions their assumptions. We follow their questions to the appropriate answers. If those answers aren't what we're looking for, we go back to the question and tweak it, always keeping in mind what we're looking for. By teaching students how to ask questions, and how to strategize their way to the answer, the student is honing the skills essential for any independent learner.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
In my classrooms, I've noticed that it's difficult to keep my students' attention for long stretches of time. Research has shown that you can hold a person's attention for 10 minutes. After that, even an adult's mind will start to wander. As a result, I've made a habit of creating short, engaging lessons that don't exceed that ten-minute mark. If my student is engrossed in the task, we continue with it beyond the allotted time. If my student looks bored, we switch to something else. There are dozens of ways to teach the same concepts. The key is finding the ways that work for each individual student.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
If one of my students was having difficulty with a skill or concept, I'd first make sure the confusion wasn't a result of the way I was explaining it. Just as different teaching techniques work on different students, different explanations are also sometimes necessarily. If the difficulty didn't come from my explanation, I would create a lesson that builds up to that concept, providing my student with the steps they need to get to the concept in question. By breaking a concept down to its component parts, the task of grasping it becomes less intimidating for the student. An additional benefit of scaffolding lessons is that it provides me with the opportunity to see exactly where - what facet of a concept - a student struggles with.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Summary Notes - a guided note sheet that asks students to identify what they're reading, ask various types of questions about the text, and to predict what they believe will happen next - are an incredible resource for students struggling with reading comprehension. Additionally, reading aloud to students struggling with reading comprehension often helps them gauge the meaning in the text. There are dozens of strategies, from acting out scenes to drawing a picture of a chapter, which helps students comprehend what they're reading. The particular technique I'd use would depend on the student's needs.