After completing my undergraduate degrees in Biological Sciences and Psychology, I transitioned to the Teach for America program in Chicago. This sparked a six year teaching career. During my tenure in Chicago Public Schools, I taught high school science to grades 9 through 12. Subjects that I have taught include biology, chemistry, physics, environmental science, neuroscience, and AP Physics 1 (the recently redesigned course). While I greatly enjoyed my time in the classroom, I recently transitioned to graduate studies in public policy (more information on that later!).
I have been assisting students through tutoring services since my own high school career, in which I tutored elementary students in core subjects such as reading, writing, and mathematics. In my undergraduate years, I helped coordinate a tutoring group for students at a high school on the south side of Chicago. This group was eventually expanded into a club dedicated to helping girls achieve success in math, science, engineering, and technology careers. I continued to tutor individual students and groups of students throughout my career as an educator as well.
Presently, I tutor high school level sciences (biology, physics, anatomy, etc.), mathematics (pre-algebra, algebra, trigonometry, and geometry), and GRE test preparation. My absolute favorite subjects to tutor are physics and mathematics because I love solving puzzles and have cultivated a wealth of cool teaching methods during my career as an educator.
As far as my approach to teaching, I like to teach by analogy, allowing students to see how the concepts and skills in a given subject apply to their own lives. I am a huge fan of guided problem solving as well I generally model the mental processes out loud and then give students ample opportunity to master and demonstrate their own skills. My main goal as a tutor is to help students learn how to think about applying the content and skills to the world they see.
I hold a Masters degree in Secondary Science Education from National Louis University and a Masters of Science in Leadership and Policy Studies from DePaul University. I am currently pursuing my doctorate in Public Policy and Administration at the University of Washington. Outside of academics, my hobbies include running, taking care of my dog, cooking, reading and writing. I also enjoy exploring the beautiful trails and neighborhoods here in Seattle.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Illinois - Bachelors, Biological Sciences, Psychology
Graduate Degree: National Louis University - Master of Arts Teaching, Secondary Science Education
GRE Verbal: 170
GRE Analytical Writing: 5
running, writing, reading, cooking
Anatomy & Physiology
Basic Computer Literacy
Elementary School Math
High School Biology
High School English
High School Physics
Study Skills and Organization
Technology and Computer Science
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Learning itself is an incredibly individualized journey. Knowing this, I approach teaching as a guide and as a counselor. I like to give students the space to generate their own knowledge, while, at the same time, providing them the support that they need to grow.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
First and foremost, I like to get an idea of the type of learner the student is. Do they prefer more hands-on methods, or do they succeed best while listening or writing? This allows me to tailor my approach to the individual student's needs.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
It all starts with demonstration. I like to model how to think about a problem or concept and then provide similar scenarios or problems so the student can practice working through the method.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I find that analogies help students maintain motivation in the face of difficult or seemingly irrelevant material. Figuring out a way of relating concepts to our own lives helps us become invested in what we are learning.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
The first thing that I would do is tell the student to take a step back from the problem or skill. We would discuss the approach they are currently taking and look at why the approach might not be succeeding. Reframing a concept or skill can be extremely helpful in building our understanding.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Depending on whether I am working with students who are preparing for tests or students who are reading for a course (say, from a textbook or an academic paper), my approach is going to be different. In terms of test preparation, it is helpful to know what you are looking for in the passage, so I will generally help the student to take the question and use the passage to frame it. For content-related readings, I either take a cooperative reading approach (in which we read together and discuss what we have read at regular intervals) or a guided note-taking approach in which the student extracts information in small "digestible" portions.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Getting to know the student is the most important first step. If I know what interests a student, I can better tailor my methods to keep them invested in their studies.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would help the student to see how the content that we are covering relates to other aspects of life - aspects that may be more interesting to the student. If the student is getting frustrated, we would take a step back, break down the content, and identify exactly where the student's understanding is breaking down. This strategy helps to take daunting concepts and ideas and make them more accessible to the student.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
We would start with a diagnostic tool to get a feel for the student's initial understanding. Over the course of our work together, we would check the student's understanding constantly and consistently. Checks for understanding are very simple intermittent assessments; I'll usually give the student a little quiz or have the student explain what they have learned in their own words. When we have finished covering a concept or skill, we will practice it. The student will move on to more and more independent work. Finally, we would end by completing some sort of summative assessment, such as a final quiz or guided explanation. The key is to ensure that the student is on-track every step of the way.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
By allowing students to demonstrate their success often (in the form of practice problems, projects, explanations, etc.), they become more engaged in the subject and confident of their skills. On the other hand, if a student is really disinvested from the outset - as in, "I really hate this subject!" or "I'm just not good at this!" - I start with a conversation about why they feel that way. More often than not, I have found that this hatred or fear comes from misconceptions about a subject. If I level with a student and identify some of these misconceptions they have about a subject, it will be easier for both of us going forward in our work together.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Diagnostics (or, pre-tests, as they are sometimes called) are my major source of information in evaluating student needs and formulating goals for the student. But I also go further to discuss with the student and the parents what reasonable, yet ambitious, academic goals should look like for the student. All of this information forms a complete picture in my mind of what the student needs and how we are going to achieve success. Based on this introductory picture, I like to make a portfolio for the student, including a spreadsheet with the goals that we had discussed. Every time a student masters a topic/concept/skill, they get to mark this success on the spreadsheet. This spreadsheet allows the student to monitor their own progress on each of our goals and, also, to build confidence in their own progress.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
One way we can look at this is through the lens of learning style. Based on learning styles, my approach is going to look different for each student. If a student is an auditory learner, we will focus on that as their major method of assessment. If a student learns best by writing or drawing, I will incorporate that more heavily into my methods. And, if I'm working with a kinesthetic learner (someone who needs to move), we will adapt the lessons based on this style. More generally and independent of learning style, I like to check the student's understanding often to ensure that our work together is on-track for success from start to finish. If we hit a snag somewhere in the middle, I can re-evaluate our course and redirect the student.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
A couple of materials that I always have on hand are whiteboards, whiteboard markers, and a wealth of practice problems. Especially with younger students, practicing on a whiteboard can be very empowering because they can easily erase mistakes on their way to success. Oftentimes, I find that students are so afraid of writing a wrong answer, they do not venture an answer in the first place. Whiteboarding helps to relieve some of that anxiety and also helps to activate visual learners. For my older learners in test preparation, we work constantly through the style of the test, so I carry with me a variety of test passages and practice problems. Developing a comfort with the style and structure of the test is as important as understanding the content itself.