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Erica

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As a graduate of Oberlin College, where I studied English and Ancient Latin, my passion for education is strongly tied to my commitment to social service. Despite my formal studies in the humanities, tutoring math is my greatest pleasure. I have worked with students of all ages and in a variety of subjects, with a strong focus on k-10 mathematics and early childhood literacy. As the Tutoring Coordinator at Oberlin Community Services, I trained, supervised, and placed K-12 math tutors in local schools. Most recently, I worked as a full-time Algebra and Geometry tutor in Chicago Public Schools. Because I myself discovered the joys of math a little later in life, I am familiar with the frustration and anxiety many students face in their math classesI've been there myself! It is a pleasure to help students discover their own appreciation of the subject and I have found that the confidence they gain impacts the rest of their studies, as well.

I believe deeply in the power of education to create positive change in our communities and in the world. To this end, I work daily to improve my craft and am always learning new strategies to support students. In addition to my seven years of tutoring experience, I have worked with young people of all ages as a mentor, classroom assistant, museum educator, and crisis worker. My approach to tutoring reflects these diverse perspectives: my lessons are student-centered rather than tutor-centered. I aim to speak as little as possible and allow students to build upon their own prior knowledge while making connections to new information. Because I have worked with students as young as five years old and as old as forty years old, I have a dynamic persona and am fairly adaptable to different personalities and learning needs. I am particularly adept at working with students who are anxious or ambivalent towards school, and I enjoy the process of drawing them out of their shells. Previous coworkers and supervisors have praised me for my strong energy, focus, and patience. I will never waste your time.

Outside of my tutoring work, I enjoy reading, writing, creating art, gardening, traveling, and volunteering. I am currently a liner at the National Runaway Safeline, an organization committed to keeping runaway and homeless youth safe and off the streets. Please feel free to reach out with any questions. I look forward to meeting you or your child!

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Erica’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Oberlin College - Bachelor in Arts, English; Latin Language and Literature

Test Scores

SAT Verbal: 760

SAT Writing: 750

SAT Subject Test in Literature: 740

Hobbies

Reading, traveling, hiking, crafting and making art, knitting, interior decorating, plants and gardening, social justice education


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I believe that all tutoring must be student-centered. As much as possible, a tutor must help a student develop their own ideas about the world around them rather than lecturing. The student must be actively speaking and engaged.

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

Trust is the most important foundational block in a tutor-tutee relationship. Without trust, very little can be accomplished. Before we start, we must spend time getting to know each other and developing Community Standards about our relationship (ex: "I (the student) feel respected when my tutor is prepared with a lesson plan" and "I (the tutor) feel respected when my student asks questions."). Following this, we will discuss the areas my student feels they are struggling in and what sorts of teaching styles they feel have been effective in the past. I may give a short assessment. From here, we'll develop short-term and long-term goals and plans.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

I favor a very student-centered approach. That is, I encourage my students to answer their own questions through research questions, debates, and reading. While I may discuss possible "answers" and guide students, I will never give my students the answer.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

The most motivated students are students who enjoy what they are doing. It is important to frame any lesson or idea in a way that is interesting and relevant to students' lives--and to insist that most of the things we are talking about are things that occur in the real world. I work to develop relationships with students in order to find out what interests them most (be it Pokémon or Greek mythology) and cater my lessons towards their interests.

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

When a student is struggling with a skill or concept, it is important to pinpoint the origin of the issue and to treat the issue, not the symptoms. For example, if a student struggles with multiplication, they may not have a strong grasp of addition, a foundational block of multiplication. If this is not the case, the student may have been taught a concept in a confusing way. In this case, we should go over the concept once more in a way that suits their learning style best (ex: if they were taught a math concept only by hearing it, perhaps they need more of a visual representation).

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

Assuming we have ruled out the possibility of learning disabilities, the single best way to encourage reading comprehension is simply to practice. It is important that the student go slowly and take their time, as much of the difficulty likely comes from a lack of self-confidence. We may start by reading only a few sentences at a time and then talking about what is happening. When the student has developed small-scale comprehension, we can move on to paragraphs, pages, etc.

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

The most important factor in a successful tutor-tutee relationship is trust. I work hard to ensure that my students understand what is expected of them AND that I understand what they expect of me. During the first session, we create "Community Standards" or a "Learning Contract" to establish what environment will be most conducive to the student's success. As far as learning, it is important to determine what the student's learning style is (all students will be different) and to cater all lessons towards this style.

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

It is important that students see the lesson as relevant to their own lives. As much as possible, lessons should revolve around a student's interests (ex: if a student is interested in Ancient Rome, we might use the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Pompeii to explore anything from graphing parabolas to earth science to climate change).

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

Because tutoring sessions tend to be short (1-1.5 hours), assessment should be varied and continuous. Asking "do you understand?" is not enough. When working with students, I may ask students to "teach" a lesson to me or to write about what they have learned for the day or week in a journal. I often also ask "extension questions" to gauge my student's understanding of how and why a problem works. These questions are often phrased as "what happens if....?"

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

I follow the "ISME" philosophy--that is, Instant Success with Minimum Effort. In the beginning, when a student lacks confidence in an area, I want to make learning "effortless." I may accomplish this by asking simple questions or breaking problems into smaller segments. That way, a student cannot possibly fail. As they become more comfortable, I increase the difficulty of the problem. It is also important that students do not feel like they are inherently "bad" or "good" at a subject. I praise a student's hard work regardless of whether the answer was "right." In this way, the student comes to enjoy the process of finding the answer.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

The students know more about what they need than you do. The first step is to simply ask, "What sorts of things do you think you are good at?" Other evaluations will depend on the age of the student. I may present young students (k-8) with a series of "games" that can help me figure out what sorts of concepts they struggle to grasp. I may give older students a quick 10-question assessment and move forward from there.

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

The materials will depend on a student's needs, age, and the subject we are studying. In the past, I have used everything from workbooks and prep. books to laptops to arts and crafts materials. I will always have my laptop with me, and I encourage students to have one, as well, if they are able.

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

I am quite flexible to my students' needs and have some experience working with students on the autism spectrum.


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