Education has defined much of my career for over a decade. I began this path in high school, assisting teachers in an elementary classroom and helping out other high school students with math or Spanish courses. Since then, I have expanded my acumen to a variety of ages and needs. I recently taught middle-school students in public speaking and current events seminars during the school year and algebra and pre-algebra during the summer, and I currently am an adjunct professor of philosophy and an online course facilitator at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College. In my free time, I enjoy reading, particularly history or science books; following various sports, especially college basketball; and playing computer games and board games with my wife and friends. I also enjoy a good coffee shop, whether to get work done or to socialize.
I am currently preparing to begin a Master's of Teaching program at VCU this fall and have continued to excel in the math and history courses I need to round out my teaching endorsements. Because my future career path focuses on teaching at the high school level, I have a preference for tutoring math (especially algebra through calculus) and history, along with writing and my current subject of philosophy. Besides my career motivations, I find that I stand out the most as a tutor in these areas because of my capability in clearly presenting complex material and my ability to grasp the diverse perspectives of my students.
This ability to clarify complex ideas is important to tutoring, but what often gets overlooked is the other side of the equation: properly understanding the questions being asked. I have frequently encountered decent teachers who can effectively outline a subject in a lecture but who have trouble comprehending where their students might be confused, often because they are too removed from the way the students' brains work. The best teachers and tutors are those who not only can teach material clearly but who realize the points of confusion, which vary from student to student (and class to class). When I teach a subject, I prepare lessons, but I also understand the need to be adaptable, to adjust the lesson on the fly, as everyone learns differently and encounters difficulties at different stages. I developed this adaptability and this understanding of a multitude of perspectives from my diverse teaching experiences and also from my multidisciplinary educational background.
I attained my Bachelor's degree from Xavier University, a Jesuit university in Cincinnati, Ohio, where I was enrolled in an interdisciplinary program in history, philosophy, and political science, which also involved a minor concentration in psychology. I then went on to Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, where I received a Master's degree in philosophy, a subject hospitable to my wide-ranging aptitude and curiosity. The diverse capabilities have reinforced both my competence and enthusiasm in a number of areas, which I bring to bear readily as a tutor. I can appreciate the perspective of a student strong in math who needs help with the verbal section of a standardized test or the viewpoint of a good writer who might be struggling in math courses, as I have immersed myself with a wide variety of subjects and consequently a wide variety of ways of thinking (not to mention diverse classmates). Though my comprehension of various subjects is important, my knack for relating to the way others think is likely my strongest feature as an educator.
Undergraduate Degree: Xavier University - Bachelor in Arts, Interdisciplinary: History, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology
Graduate Degree: Duquesne University - Master of Arts, Philosophy
ACT Composite: 32
ACT English: 34
ACT Math: 36
ACT Reading: 35
SAT Composite (1600 scale): 1460
SAT Verbal: 730
GRE Verbal: 166
I read a variety of literature but especially books on history and on science. I follow college basketball and blog on the sport from time to time, especially during the season. I also play computer games, particularly MMOs.
College Level American History
College World History
High School English
High School Geography
High School Level American History
High School World History
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe in providing guidance to students to get them on the right track, while trying to let them discover the correct answers themselves, so they best process and retain what they learned. I think just giving the answers to students is a disservice to them, as they don't really benefit in the long run.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would want to get to know the student to understand where they are coming from in general, before working to figure out where exactly their weaknesses lie.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
By asking the right questions, I can help students work out problems themselves so that they arrive at the conclusion, without being explicitly told ahead of time what is true.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I like talking to students about their end-goals; what they hope to accomplish in the specific subject and overall.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I ask the student questions pertaining to the topic in order to dig down to where the confusion lies. Often, I approach an explanation of the problem from a different angle than the original method, frequently using examples to make my point.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I coach them on how to draw out the key words and to recognize transitions in tone and style. Rather than asking what the overall meaning of a passage is, I start with more specific questions that, together, will eventually lead to the overall meaning.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I am relaxed, and I feel that it relaxes the students too. We don't usually dive right in, but we slowly transition into the work with a more general conversation.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Having usually learned what interests them in general, I try to connect the material to real-world examples that they would find meaningful.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
This frequently involves open-ended questions to see what the student understands without more guided questions. Then I turn to more critical questions, providing counterpoints to their initial position in order to get them to justify that position. If they can do so, then I can feel confident about their grasp of the material.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Together, we start small, working with introductory ideas and connecting them to real-world experiences, and then we incrementally build up to the more challenging material. All of this occurs with me expressing confidence in them, but also clarifying that sometimes learning occurs through confusion and failure before success is achieved.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I ask open-ended questions, not trying to lead the student to a certain answer but learning myself where they feel they stand. I match this against how they respond to the material, sometimes discovering needs that they didn't even express.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Outside of a few core ideals, including student accountability and active learning, I am flexible as to how I approach a subject, learning what best fits their personality.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I usually use my computer or a tablet to look up stuff, along with a notebook to take my own notes. Sometimes I use other materials, but only when relevant to the specific topic.