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James

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I am a graduate of SUNY University at Albany. I received my Bachelor of Science in Economics and Japanese with a minor in History in 2010. Since then (and even before as a sub) I have predominantly been teaching in the New York City public education system. I had worked as a substitute teaching assistant since 2008, moving between dozens of NYC public schools before finally settling in late 2011 at M.S. 216 George J. Ryan--an incredibly diverse middle school in Queens. During my tenure in the school system I have spent time teaching students from Pre-K to 12th grade, from all cultural background and socioeconomic statuses. Regardless of whom I have taught, I have always enjoyed it, partly because I often learn as much from my students as they learn from me. Regardless of the subject, I love teaching, and I find it to be one of the most rewarding and meaningful activities, which cliched as it may sound, really can make a difference in people's lives. Besides teaching, I am also keenly interested in the human body, specifically biomechanics, kinesiology, and rehabilitation through movement. I am currently enrolled in a Doctorate of Physical Therapy program at Washington University in St. Louis, which I should finish in 2018.

I started tutoring in 2012, when I went back to school (Queens College) in order to take all the necessary pre-med courses for my DPT program. My first tutoring experience was with struggling peers in Biology, Chemistry, and Anatomy and Physiology. I dove into test-prep tutoring following my own experience preparing for the GRE, hoping to pass on some of the hard-won skills and knowledge. Currently I tutor a wide-array of subjects, though in particular I love teaching standardized tests like the SAT and ACT, as well as the sciences and math. Besides my interest in these areas, there is a particular joy watching a student hit their score mark in a test and seeing their hard work pay off. And when I hear back several months later about my students getting into their top choice for college, it always makes my day. When I'm not teaching or studying, I compulsively read, learn languages (currently working on Mandarin), practice gymnastics, and obsess over food.

James’ Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: SUNY University at Albany - Bachelor of Science, Economics and Japanese

Graduate Degree: Washington University in St Louis - Current Grad, Physical Therapy

Test Scores

ACT Composite: 33

ACT English: 36

ACT Math: 33

ACT Reading: 32

ACT Science: 30

SAT Math: 740

GRE Quantitative: 163

GRE Verbal: 170

GRE Analytical Writing: 5

Hobbies

Reading, languages, gymnastics, sports, food

Tutoring Subjects


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I believe education to be the key to a happy and successful life.

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

Typically, for the first session, I try to let my students do most of the talking in order to get to know them and to learn how to best adapt my teaching.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

The best way to help a student become an independent learner is to not be there to guide them through every problem or bump in the road. If a student always looks to others for help, then they will never learn the skills to solve problems on their own.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

True motivation comes from within, but there are ways to help instill it. The first step is verbal encouragement, and explaining how achieving a goal will help the student. If that doesn't work, then sometimes it is necessary to go deeper and find what truly motivates the student, and then incorporate that into the lesson plan.

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

If a student has difficulty with a particular concept, then it is best to try to vary the teaching style or method. For example, if a student is not able to understand the distance formula in coordinate geometry, one could try drawing a triangle and showing how it can be derived using the Pythagorean Theorem.

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

Reading comprehension obviously differs greatly from student to student, but there are particular skills that can be taught. For starters, one can go over basics, such as looking for context clues in order to decode an unfamiliar word. Or, for more advanced comprehension, we can break down a passage into more digestible parts before putting it back together again and finding the main idea or author's purpose.

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

The easiest way to build confidence in a subject is to master it. It is important to teach the necessary skills and then practice until the student feels prepared. Other ways to instill confidence are tackling anxiety with relaxation techniques, as well as self-empowerment techniques.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I would typically evaluate a student's needs with a chat in order to get his or her perspective. I would then consult with a teacher or parent to get a separate perspective, and also evaluate the student's work by myself. Should the subject be test prep, I would also conduct a diagnostic test.

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

Typically, I will change my teaching style such that the student remains engaged, and sessions are not only productive but also fun (or at least not considered drudgery). Some students are more visual and respond better to diagrams or graphs, whereas others are auditory and learn best from a lecture style. The trick is to never fall into habits and use a "one-size fits all" approach.

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

Typically it is very challenging to get a student excited with a topic they are struggling with, as oftentimes interest and ability are directly correlated. Students are typically interested in topics they are good at, and good at topics they enjoy. While it can be difficult to break through, sometimes the difference can be made through being an enthusiastic teacher. If a student can sense you are genuinely interested in a topic, then often that excitement can carry over. Other times it is important to make real-life connections and show how this topic is actually useful. For example, maybe a student has little to no interest in proportions, but is interested in shopping. Showing how you can use proportions to determine the best deal between two items could be one possible solution.

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

Typically it is not enough to simply ask "Do you understand?" in order to know student comprehension. Depending on the subject, understanding the material could be demonstrated through a recap of key principles and ideas, or a series of practice problems.