I received a B.S. in Biology from the University of Iowa in three years with my fourth year being covered by high school AP credits. Since then I have taught the Biology 1 lab at UCF which has given me the opportunity to work with students with many different backgrounds and skill sets. As a teacher I believe strongly in the Socratic Method and encourage my students to break down difficult problems into more manageable chunks. With regards to lesson planning I prefer to focus on fundamentals. In most disciplines advanced techniques are just more complex ways to apply simple concepts, so I feel students are best served by mastering and understanding the basics first and foremost. As a tutor I offer assistance in preparation for the SAT, ACT and GRE. I also provide tutoring for algebra and biology.
Outside of teaching, I am a researcher and student at UCF working toward my PhD in Conservation Biology. My dissertation focuses on the study of plant and animal diversity and the concept of biogeography. When not working on science I enjoy playing the guitar, video games, and reading novels. I am also an avid fan of football and basketball.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Iowa - Bachelor of Science, Biology, General
ACT Math: 30
ACT Reading: 35
ACT Science: 30
SAT Verbal: 720
GRE Quantitative: 770
GRE Verbal: 710
Plays the guitar, video games, reading, doing science, working on dissertation
High School Biology
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe in the Socratic method and that by engaging and challenging your students you encourage them to internalize the methods you teach.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
During the first session, we will typically focus on establishing expectations and determining which skills the students already possesses. Once a lesson plan is established, any remaining time will be spent working through simple problems to acclimate the student to my teaching style.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Independent learning requires independent interest. To help establish that interest, I try to relate the subjects I'm teaching to subjects in which the student is already interested in the hopes of piquing their curiosity.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
To keep students motivated you need to provide them with variety and a sense of progress. To that end, I would employ a mix of different assignments and practices to keep the student feeling trapped within a routine. I would also provide periodic assessments so the students can track their growth.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Every student runs into concepts that they do not find intuitive. The important thing is to remain patient and continue providing new ways to look at the same problem. Eventually, you will arrive at a solution that is both effective and logical for the student.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
One of the biggest challenges for students learning reading comprehension is learning to key in on the important aspects of a passage. Teaching students not to get lost in the details and focus on central concepts and characters is important. It allows them to simplify the reading and break it into more manageable chunks that are easier to understand.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Before teachers teach, they should learn. Specifically, they must learn their students strengths and weaknesses as well as their personality. Each lesson plan should be adapted to each student, so the beginning of each curriculum should be focused on developing a relationship between student and teacher.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Oftentimes, when students struggle to get excited for a subject it's because they don't see a way to use the skills involved. Showing them the subject as it's practiced can awaken an appreciation in them that will help keep them engaged going forward. This method is especially effective if the subject can be applied towards something they already have an interest in.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
The most time-tested method for student evaluation is the written assignment. However, for a written assignment to be effective, it must go beyond simple practice problems and require the student to think critically for an answer. If student can complete such problems, it means they have internalized the logic behind the task and will be able to solve problems they have never seen before.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I believe that all students should be taught on a learning curve, meaning that they start with simple problems and work their way to more complex ones. This allows the teacher to continue challenging his students without shattering their confidence.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
There are preliminary exams that I will give students to assess their current skill levels. However, evaluating the personality of a student is just as important as evaluating skill. To this end, I will interview both the students and (where applicable) their parents before beginning a lesson plan.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
From an academic standpoint, I adapt each lesson plan to focus on the skills the student must develop. From a personality standpoint, I will seek to incorporate the student's hobbies and interests into my lesson plan to help keep them engaged.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I will use some practice assignments and basic materials. If the students are able to provide any workbooks, I will use those as well. I will also have some lecture materials such as diagrams and relevant pictures. Most of the session, however, will be spent in conversation with the student rather than in a one directional lecture.