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My mission is to help my students succeed in math, science & life by developing personalized learning skills in a fun and comfortable environment.

I earned my degree from John Hopkins in Neuroscience and have been tutoring for 6+ years. I am a certified teacher in English as a foreign language, certified to teach high school science abroad, and have developed my own independent program to teach elementary school children. I have tutored in all levels of algebra as well as geometry. I have 4 years of experience teaching biology, from AP/Honors level biology to 3rd grade level "Making Neuroscience Fun" programs.

When students are struggling, the issue is more than simply getting better grades. Many students feel angry, hopeless, and uninterested in school when they are having trouble. With the right help and time, problem areas can feel less overwhelming and even fun.

My method is to first understand my student's specific issue, and work to address him or her as an individual. I help them develop strategies so when they are alone and facing a difficult problem, they have the foundation and confidence to work through it by themselves. Most importantly though, I make sure my students laugh at least once during a session - when they are having fun, seeing the bigger picture and exploring the subject in their own way, the learning naturally follows.

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Melissa’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Johns Hopkins - Bachelor in Arts, Neuroscience

Test Scores

ACT Reading: 33

SAT Composite (1600 scale): 1430

SAT Math: 700

SAT Writing: 720


Swimming, hiking, skiing, drawing, yoga & volunteering with wildlife

Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

My teaching philosophy is to look at the bigger picture, find a way that works for you, and find the fun in it.

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

I would first have them list their short-term and long-term goals. Next, I would have them complete a "Base Level" evaluation to compare future progress. Then I would get straight to practicing problems, so I can assess their mentality and they can get to know my style of guidance.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

I can give them choices for activities and practice problems to complete. For example, they can choose to first do homework, practice book problems, or take a practice test. They are making the decision and exerting their power to learn in the way that fits them best.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

I would have them read the list of goals they set in the beginning of our sessions, and have them write out why they want to accomplish these goals.

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

I would get creative in my demonstrations. For example, a high school student was struggling to understand the concept of shapes being reflected over an axis. She loved to paint, so I had her draw an axis, paint on shapes, then fold the paper to see where the paint left the reflected image.

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

First, I have them break down a section, for example, into one paragraph at a time. Then they read one sentence in that paragraph and answer one question about a detail in the sentence. They continue through the end of the paragraph, at which point I ask them guiding questions. This helps them think in the proper manner without being given the answers.

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

One strategy I have found to be most successful is to give students a choice of what they want to do first (i.e. homework or extra practice). This helps them feel empowered and in control of their learning. Another strategy I have found to be successful is practice tests or assessments. This gives them tangible progress that they can be proud of.

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

I step back from working, and tell them fun facts about the history of the subject or historical figures who worked in it. For example, ancient Egyptians used pi to calculate architectural measurements. Another example: cooking and baking is simply chemistry we can eat.

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

Most importantly, I use graded practice tests. I also have them verbally explain the topic to me; if you can teach it, you know it! Finally, I observe their ability to complete challenge problems without me saying a word.

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

One word: practice. First they will start off with easier problems, so they can see that they are capable and understand the foundation. The key then is to advance slowly into more difficult problems, using what they learned in the basics. When a student solves, for example, a difficult algebraic equation they never thought they could do, they are amazed with themselves!

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

First, I ask them! I have been surprised by children as young as 8, when working in writing, who say "I just need someone to listen to my ideas." Her writing soared when her stories were taken seriously. I also listen to what they don't say, and have a natural sensitivity to what they are feeling. For example, a 4th grader who struggled with anxiety in math just needed someone to be there with her while she experienced strong emotions. She eventually learned that the feelings would pass if she was patient with herself, the way I was patient with her.

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

My materials range based on age. For elementary students, colored pencils, markers, and paints are everything. For high school students, we typically stick to their homework or SAT practice books, but I also like for them to have the proper calculator (usually graphing). Having a high tech calculator helps eliminate some technical mistakes, as well as allows them to see graphs.

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

First, I ask them what they need! For younger students who aren't sure what they need, I simply watch, listen and observe them. I don't have one set method, so I feel out what works with different people.

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