I recently graduated summa cum laude from Northwestern University with a B.A. in Theatre and completion of the premed track. I've been tutoring for six years in subjects ranging from Algebra to Spanish to Writing and many others. I find teaching so rewarding because not only can I help others with their studies, but often I learn something new, too!
Effective learning stems from a true interest in the material and a desire to do well, and I have always been good at instilling my academic curiosity in others. Finding even one facet of a subject that really piques a student's interest can make them think of learning as an engaging, exciting endeavor instead of an onerous chore. Call me an idealist, but I think learning should be fun!
Though I keep the tone of my sessions light, I do expect my students to put in the effort necessary to achieve their goals. With my guidance, my support, and their hard work, I am confident that I can help my students find success.
When I'm not tutoring I keep myself busy with many other things. I love theatre, and I have performed in dozens of community, school, and professional productions in the past. I also adore animals. I volunteer at shelters, shadow veterinarians, and I even have eight cats and two dogs at home! In the time that's remaining, I like to read, hang out with friends, and swim.
Northwestern University - BA, Theatre with Premed
SAT Composite: 2350
SAT Math: 770
SAT Verbal: 800
SAT Writing: 780
AP Biology: 5
AP Chemistry: 5
AP English Literature: 5
AP US History: 5
AP Spanish Literature: 5
What is your teaching philosophy?
While it is, of course, important to teach the specific skills necessary to succeed in individual subject areas, I think it's even more important to teach students to think critically and independently. Cultivating this ability to actively engage with the material does not only boost students' abilities to wrestle with the subject matter in question. These skills also prepare them to tackle and better understand all other areas of study.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
If I'm going to tutor a student over a period of time, I first need to find out what they are hoping to achieve through tutoring. I'd start by getting to know my student a little bit. What do they enjoy about the subject area? What is hard for them? What are their goals? I'd then assess their level in the subject with some practice problems and make a plan as to how to proceed from there!
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Being able to learn independently stems from a thorough understanding of the fundamentals. It also comes from understanding why a certain technique is utilized to solve a problem or write an essay, not just memorizing what step comes next. To this end, I make sure my students have a deep understanding of the basics and the reasoning behind each move so that they can employ these critical thinking skills to future independent studies.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
It's extremely important to set goals and understand how achieving those goals would help them in the future. However, sometimes the long term payoff seems unattainable, so I would help them set short term goals as well. This could be something as simple as, "If you finish this problem set you can have a piece of candy or watch an episode of television!"
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would take another approach. I'd employ a visual aid, have them talk through the problem aloud, or give analogies. However, I also understand that sometimes students really do hit road blocks. At those times the best thing to do is take a break, work on something else, and then come back to it. Oftentimes the information just needs a little time to percolate.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
At first it's all about figuring out how a particular student learns best. I use different tactics to explain concepts to see which one is most effective. I employ analogies, step-by-step explanations, mnemonic devices, visual aids, and more. Seeing which strategy elicits the most positive response in a student influences and shapes how I teach them for the rest of our time together. Determining how a student learns is key in individualizing my teaching style to each unique person.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Sometimes it's simply the way they have been taught the subject that confuses and discourages students. In that case, I tackle the problem from a different angle or with a different explanation. I think one of the primary reasons people dislike subjects is because they don't quite understand them. In beginning to understand these areas of study, students often find themselves more encouraged and excited about the subject. Also, I try to find 'that one thing' within a subject that piques a student's interest. I can then shape my teaching around that exciting aspect and expand to areas my student may find less interesting. Basing a subject in something with which they immediately engage really helps with student's overall perception of the material.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
My favorite way to make sure my students understand the material is the 'see one, do one, teach one' method. I would explain and/or demonstrate something to a student. Then I would have them perform the task by themselves. Then I would pretend to be the student and have them teach me how to understand the material or solve the problem.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
To instill confidence, it's important not to teach the material too slowly or too quickly. Finding the right pace helps students stay engaged and challenged, but not become discouraged. If they were really losing confidence, I would give them problems or prompts that I know they are able to handle that they wouldn't have been able to do before they started working with the material. In that way I remind them that no matter how slow it may seem, they are making progress, and they will get to the level they desire if they keep working.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
First, it's important for me to understand what a student wishes to achieve through tutoring. I ask them about their goals to figure out whether our sessions should focus on practice tests and test-taking strategies, achieving a better understanding of a subject area, or something else. Then I work on individualizing my teaching style. Individualizing teaching is all about figuring out what techniques are most effective in helping a student learn. In the first session or two I use several different teaching techniques. I employ visual aids, mnemonic devices, the 'see one, do one, teach one' method, and others to see which elicit the most positive response. This helps me shape sessions to fit each student's unique needs.