I am a DC native and graduate of the College of William and Mary and Georgetown University, where I received an MBA. I have been lucky enough to have a career that has given me practical experience in the quantitative social sciences--including a grade of "Honors" in qualifying field exams--and a deep understanding of international relations and international business, along with fluency in more than one foreign language. I have teaching experience at the university level and have helped many students make their way through difficult topics. I have a good understanding of the needs of students in the region's public and private schools, and strive to help my students not just pass their subjects, but to excel.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: The College of William and Mary - Bachelor in Arts, Economics/Russian Language
Graduate Degree: Georgetown University - Masters in Business Administration, Business Strategy
SAT Math: 710
biking, exercise, literature, modern languages
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My first priority in teaching is to make sure my students don't panic and that they understand that there is a way out of their problems. My second priority is to reduce confusing subjects to a few core concepts and build out from there so that students have the confidence to handle material they haven't yet encountered.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
The first session with a student would involve taking a close look at the teaching materials, tests, and notebooks to try to identify where the student is getting lost. If necessary, I might encourage the student to rewrite some pages of his notebook on which he's made some fundamental errors. I would give the student some confidence-building exercises (like very simple problems) and work through problems that the student had missed in problem sets and exams. Finally, I would go online with the student to identify learning resources that can be used before the next lesson.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
A student becomes an independent learner by applying familiar concepts to new situations. For example, a language student might memorize a declension paradigm and then look ahead in the book for unfamiliar words and use them in simple sentences that confirm his knowledge of the paradigm.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
A student stays motivated by anticipating new material without fear of failure. This can involve anything from looking ahead in the book to discussing likely upcoming developments with an instructor.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
The easiest thing to do in this situation is to walk the student back through the development of the subject so that he can see the logical connection between a "new" idea and ones previously introduced. Also, a simple diagram can clarify concepts in topics ranging from political science to mathematics.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I'm not an instructor in reading, but my first approach would to be to encourage the student to tackle complex sentences in small doses. I would also help them write short sentences of their own that clarify the meaning of complex materials.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
What do you call the person who graduated last in his class at medical school? Doctor. The first thing I would do is remind them that I myself did badly when I started in many topics. (I did so badly on my first statistics midterm that the professor advised me to drop the course.) I would also remind them that although an A is desirable, few students are so deep in the hole that they can't get at least a passing grade. This helps the students focus on the material, rather than on what they perceive to be a hopeless situation. By applying this principle, I was able to help many undergraduate students to complete the requirements for their majors and graduate successfully.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Students become excited about a subject when they start thinking about it as interesting independent of the grade or teaching situation in which they find themselves. It can be hard to transmit the sense of excitement that professionals feel about various subjects, but it's very easy to help students identify examples that are immediately relevant to them. This can involve anything from a high school athlete learning about how baseball statistics work to a candidate for class president learning how campaigns work.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
The simplest techniques is are to work through the material with a student, to hold a short conversation in a foreign language, or to ask the student to come up with a problem for the instructor to solve, and then to explain how to solve it when the teacher makes an "accidental" mistake.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Confidence comes from repetition, particularly of material that has already been learned. There is no substitute for getting problems a, b, and c right, and then seeing how these examples relate to problem d.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Students can be very bad at identifying their own needs. Talking to a student is important-- but more for reassuring him that the material is within his grasp. Looking at papers, tests, and problem sets is the best way to identify problems, particularly if the instructor can get the student to explain what he thinks he's doing rather than what he's actually done.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
This is primarily about identifying weaknesses in a student's core skills. A student who is just bad at algebra will have a bad time with statistics. It's important to identify outside learning resources quickly to make sure that the student has enough basic skills to cope with the course material.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I don't let students use computers unless they are working specifically on composition. There is no substitute for writing down a formula, plugging in the numbers, and following the logic through in getting an answer; there is no substitute for writing out a word paradigm and memorizing it. Recent research in learning backs this up.