I was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, where a moose in the driveway is a legitimate reason for being late to work. I spent 3 years of high school as a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. During this time period, I worked with the same Little as she progressed through elementary school. In addition to being a consistent and positive role model, I worked with her on her math, reading and study skills. I also volunteered several hours per week in her classroom as a Teacher's Assistant. I provided her teacher with additional in-classroom support, graded papers and helped with in-class worksheets.
Upon graduation, I moved 3,884 miles away from home to attend Oberlin College, where I majored in Biology and Neuroscience.
In addition to completing the liberal arts curriculum and pre-med requirements, I worked for a number of different tutoring services in and around Oberlin. As a tutor, I believe that learning can be fun and enjoyable. I love taking abstract or dry material and making it accessible for my students. I like to get to know my students on a personal level so that I can tailor my tutoring to their individual wants and needs.
For the first two years, I worked as a GED tutor at Lorain County JVS where I tutored disadvantaged adults and teenagers in math and reading skills required for proficiency on the GED test. I ran independent workshops for advanced students. I also worked one-on-one with the students who required the most individualized attention.
During my last two years of college I worked as a Teachers Assistant for several academic classes. As an Introductory Biology TA, I ran interactive workshops used to present course content in a fun, active, and collaborative fashion designed to help first-year biology students succeed. I was responsible for creating worksheets based on course material and guiding the students through the worksheets. The workshops focused on active learning and student participation. As a Abnormal Psychology TA, I held office hours for students who wanted out-of-class assistance with the abnormal psychology coursework. I was responsible for being up-to-date on the material, answering questions and helping students prep for exams.
When I was not studying or tutoring, I split my free time between running a neuroscience research lab and doing acrobatics. As the senior research assistant, I was responsible for training incoming research students in standard laboratory practices including proper animal handling and lab safety practices. Over the 1.5 years I worked as a research assistant I organized, oversaw and completed three research projects resulting in several published abstracts, poster presentations and publications.
Now that I have graduated, I am taking care of my elderly grandmother while studying for the MCAT and continuing my acrobatic training.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Oberlin College - Bachelor in Arts, Biology and Neuroscience
Weight lifting, Lyra, Contortion, Rock Climbing, Hiking, Cooking, Reading, Silly Art Projects
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is to present course material in a fun and accessible manner that turns rote memorization into fun and active learning.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In a typical first session, I would want to get to know the student to get to know them as a person and to understand their academic interests, needs, and goals. Developing a rapport with the student is fundamental to making tutoring more enjoyable and fun. If they look forward to the tutoring, it becomes easier and less frustrating to digest difficult material.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I can help a student become an independent learner by teaching them how to problem solve. It is not particularly helpful to just tell the student the answer to a question. I will teach students how to find the answers on their own using academic resources and different ways of retaining that information.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I help students stay motivated by making the material as fun as possible. Math can be fun when you take the things you're learning in school and challenge yourself to apply them in real life or when they are removed from the abstract and applied to real life scenarios. Memorization can be a rewarding game instead of sitting down and staring at a huge stack of flashcards. I would learn what method of learning worked best and was most enjoyable for the student and would present the material to them in that manner.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, I would try to approach that skill or concept from a different direction to make it more approachable. Fractions can be difficult to conceptualize, but fractions using real life objects like money can make an abstract concept more accessible. We would continually review the difficult material but not to the point of frustration.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I would help students who are struggling with reading comprehension by providing them with reading material that was personalized to their interests. For example, as a young student, I hated reading until my teacher gave me Roald Dahl's The Witches. This book was so creative and approachable that it turned reading into one of my favorite hobbies. I would do my best to find a similar book for my student.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
The strategy I have found to be more successful when I start to work with a student is to make them comfortable. Students can feel self-conscious or insecure about the fact that they are having difficultly with the material, and it is fundamental to make them feel safe and comfortable in expressing worries or concerns.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in by making it fun for the student. You can memorize organelles by writing them out over and over again or you can turn it into an art project, poem, or song lyrics. I would try to combine the material and their personal interests.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
It depends on the subject, but usually I ensure recall by having the student try to teach me the material. Teaching the material will point out any holes in their understanding and is a great way of further solidifying the information.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I would build a student's confidence in a subject by making the material approachable and fun.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I evaluate a student's needs by listening to them. The student knows best where they are having trouble, how they learn best, and what they need.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I typically use a notebook, pencil, pen, and a calculator. I also love using colored markers, construction paper, and whiteboards.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I adapt my tutoring to the student's needs by listening to them. No two people learn the exact same way. My job as a tutor is to listen to my student, to learn how they learn best, and to present the material in that fashion. Working as a GED tutor really taught me how to present abstract material in an accessible way, and I will use those skills to help my students.