I am a PhD student at the University of St. Louis, Missouri, studying the evolution of pollination systems. While I am passionate about my major, my love of learning and teaching also extends to many other subjects. I come from a project-based learning high school where all assignments were done in groups and presented in front of a panel of teachers and members of the community versed in the subject being presented or otherwise. Consequently, I learned the importance of collaboration, both being a good listener and being able to communicate effectively to others. Helping fellow group-mates on our project spurred my love of teaching and tutoring. Throughout my high school, I tutored classmates in math subjects ranging from Algebra to Pre-Calculus. Then, in college, I continued my enthusiasm for tutoring by accepting a position as a Writing Mentor at the UCSD Writing Center. I was nominated by a professor of one of my Humanities classes and as a mentor, I worked with UCSD students on subjects ranging from grammar and basic writing (for English Language Learners), to essay structure and composition, theme analysis, organization, graduate school applications, personal statements, and scholarship internships. In both tutoring positions, what was most personally rewarding was the ability to give back what I had learned from amazing and dedicated teachers. Moreover, in accordance with the spirit of my project-based learning high school, I understand the importance and necessity of collaboration. During my recent quarter abroad in Costa Rica studying Tropical Biology and Ecology, I had the distinct opportunity to learn from and collaborate with some of the top biologists and ecologists in their respective fields. It is this unique ability to collaborate with others, be it receiving or sharing knowledge, that offers us the capability to grow as individuals.
When not tutoring, I enjoy everything about playing and watching soccer, hiking and backpacking, playing with my dog, cycling, curling up with a good book, or simply learning about all that nature has to offer.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of California-San Diego - Bachelor of Science, Evolutionary, Behavioral and Ecological Biology
SAT Verbal: 710
SAT Writing: 700
SAT Mathematics Level 2: 800
Exploring nature and learning about any animal and plant, soccer, hiking and backpacking, cycling, basketball, T.V., hanging with friends, video games
High School Biology
High School English
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that without listening, you cannot teach properly. Listening to the student allows you to best understand their needs and concerns, their learning style, and how you can most effectively help them. Listening allows you to learn and that knowledge can be utilized to improve your teaching strategies.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I might spend a few minutes chatting to establish a connection. Then, I would talk to the student about what exactly his or her concerns are and what he or she wants to improve the most. Then, I would start in by reviewing past homework, quizzes, essays, etc. During this time, I would pay attention to how best I believe the student learns and, once I get a baseline, ask him/her how he or she wants to proceed.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I believe that by reviewing practice problems and breaking each one down into the smallest component (for example, to understand how exactly we arrived at the solution to a math problem), the student can translate this approach into future problems and subjects. Teaching the core ideas and the methodology for how to look at a problem and understand its components is essential for independent learning. Just giving answers or drilling on memorizing doesn't promote the type of learning that would lead to future success.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I like to have them go paragraph by paragraph and, in a sentence or two, summarize each paragraph. Then, afterwards, I would have the students write a summarizing essay using those previously constructed sentences. Then, I would come up with questions that force the student to apply the essay/paper/book and not just skim for an answer. Here, I believe that breaking down the paper into the smallest components then building it back up allows the student to develop a system for reading comprehension.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
If a student is struggling in a subject, I try to come up with questions or practice problems that relate to an interest of his/hers. This way, the student might feel more comfortable and confident in continuing to work on the subject.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Personally, as a hands-on learner, I love practice problems, quizzes, and games. Therefore, I would try to create questions and tests for the students that convey that they know the answer and understand how to get to the material. I would also make sure to constantly ask them if they have any questions.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Like I answered in a previous question, I believe you can build a student's confidence by gearing the practice questions/problems towards an interest of his or hers. Furthermore, I would always try to pair any negative feedback with positive feedback.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I would evaluate a student's needs by spending the first few minutes, or even a session, engaging in a dialogue with the student that gets at his or her level, how he or she best learns, and what he or she hopes to accomplish. I would follow this with some pre-tutoring questions to judge his/her level, and I'd look at previous assignments the student has.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I think that by taking the time before you start to understand his/her needs and how he/she likes to learn, you can get a feel for the strategies that would be most effective with this type of student. Then, if you know, for example, that he/she is a visual learner, you can design a lesson plan around drawings or videos, etc. If you feel your strategy isn't as effective, you can constantly ask the student whether he/she understands the material and adjust accordingly to be more effective at meeting his/her needs.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I like to use a whiteboard for drawing (albeit I'm a pretty bad artist), graphing, writing out problems, or outlining papers. I also like to use videos or other media platforms if I feel that someone else does a better job at explaining a certain subject than I do.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I think the strategy that is most important is listening. Both being able to understand exactly what the student wants and being able to convey that you care about the student's needs are essential for effective tutoring. I feel that making a connection with the student allows him/her to open up more easily.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I would help a student stay motivated by tailoring the practice problems or subject to his or her interests. That way, the lesson might be more fun as well as less intimidating. Also, practice problems and homework help keep the student practicing even in-between sessions.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Like in a previous answer, I believe that a good way to make a subject feel less intimidating is by relating it to the student's interests. Furthermore, I think that breaking down a skill or concept into its most basic components and then building from there, allows you to best determine exactly which part the student is struggling on and then focus on that part.