I am a professional educator, writer and editor with a graduate degree in Writing from the University of Minnesota and an undergraduate degree in Literary Studies/Writing from Beloit College in Wisconsin. I have taught classes at multiple levels, from high school to graduate school, in both traditional and online environments. In addition, I have spent many years helping individual students of all ages, including those at the elementary and middle school levels. My areas of expertise include Writing (all genres and levels), Critical Reading and Analysis, Productive Study Habits, and Academic Confidence.
One of the things I find most rewarding about tutoring and teaching is that it affords me the privilege of getting to know the unique personalities and needs of the students with whom I work. My favorite thing about any kind of teaching, however, is that it allows me to witness a transformation, whether subtle or monumental, within each student. Tutoring makes it possible for me to accompany the student on a journey from frustrated to relieved, discouraged to confident, poorly prepared to well equipped, and/or disinterested to engaged by the task or subject at hand.
In addition to tutoring, I enjoy spending time in the wilderness, embarking on adventures with my family, chatting and texting with good friends, swimming, listening to music, and writing fiction.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Beloit College - Bachelor in Arts, Double: Literature/Creative Writing
Graduate Degree: University of Minnesota - Master of Fine Arts, English/Writing
Fiction Writing, Hiking, Music, Watching Movies, Gardening
10th Grade Reading
10th Grade Writing
11th Grade Reading
11th Grade Writing
12th Grade Writing
2nd Grade Reading
2nd Grade Writing
3rd Grade Reading
3rd Grade Writing
4th Grade Reading
4th Grade Writing
5th Grade Reading
5th Grade Writing
6th Grade Reading
6th Grade Writing
7th Grade Reading
7th Grade Writing
8th Grade Reading
8th Grade Writing
9th Grade Reading
9th Grade Writing
Elementary School Reading
Elementary School Writing
High School English
High School Writing
Middle School Reading
Middle School Writing
Study Skills and Organization
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe the key to helping any student learn is to support him/her in feeling capable and confident. Learning happens best when a student feels positive about the learning process itself. The tutor is there to offer support, direction, and facilitation that enables the student to do the actual problem-solving him/herself.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Exactly what happens during the first session will depend on the nature of the tutoring relationship. In the case of short-term tutoring that consists of only 1 or 2 sessions, I spend the first few minutes listening and asking questions to get a general sense of the student and the task at hand. This allows me to put the student at ease and identify the best approach to the tutoring session. We then dive into the subject matter/task at hand. My goal in this case is for the student to leave with: 1) The critical work complete; 2) A clear plan and the necessary skills to finish any remaining work; 3) Skills he/she can apply to similar tasks in the future; and 4) A sense of accomplishment. In the case of longer-term tutoring (weekly meetings, for example), I spend more time during the first session establishing a solid foundation for working together. This involves asking questions, listening, and sharing a bit about my teaching approach. I ask the student to explain the assignment/problem to me so we can arrive at a shared understanding of what the purpose of our work will be. My goal in this case is for the student to leave: 1) Encouraged; 2) Understanding the goals of our work and the basic plan for meeting those goals; 3) Confident I can help in a meaningful way in terms of my expertise and ability to help him/her learn and succeed; and 4) Knowing I am just as committed to supporting him/her as a learner as I am to the outcome of our sessions.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Independent learning happens when a student is confident and able to enjoy the learning process. Even when the subject matter is dull or difficult, a student who feels capable and takes pride in the process of learning can accomplish wonders. The best way I can help a student is by helping him/her build confidence and enjoy the process of learning. Ultimately, any skills I teach will be worthless in the hands of a student who feels incapable of using them successfully. Once a student begins to feel capable, I can support him/her with suggestions, encouragement, and questions that lead him or her to identify solutions independently. Building confidence and actually applying skills to solve problems (as opposed to watching someone else do so) are the keys to independent learning.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
While there are a few main reasons students tend to lose motivation, no two students are the same. Therefore, my approach to keeping a student motivated depends, to some extent, on the individual. Having said that, the strategies I find most successful in motivating students include building confidence, finding a connection with the subject matter, and making the work fun. Overcoming a lack of confidence or interest in the subject, however, can be extremely difficult. This is where the use of humor/fun comes into play. The more a student enjoys the time spent on learning, the greater their confidence and interest will be.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
First and foremost, I remain patient and offer encouragement. I present the task/concept in a different way (or several, if necessary) to see if that helps. I might also demonstrate the skill or make a comparison to something with which the student is more familiar. These techniques usually work well. In any case, I make sure the parents are aware of the struggle so they can support the student as well.