I got my first taste of teaching when I was in high school and I worked for Bringing Up Girls in Science (BUGS) at the University of North Texas. We mentored and tutored girls from the 4th and 5th grades in science. Additionally, we taught them how to develop testable hypotheses, plan experiments, preform controlled experiments, and analyze the data they generated. I really liked making a difference in the lives of these girls, and imparting to them my love of science and math. Since then I have tutored friends, classmates, and coworkers. During college I was the scholarship chair for my sorority. I often held calculus session for members that were having difficulties. As a graduate student, I would regularly assist others with designing their experiments and often taught them about concepts they had trouble grasping. During my postdoc at USC I also taught undergraduates, graduate students, and other postdocs new methods and techniques, as well as, the best methods for analyzing their data (and the reasons behind these methods). I have a passion for both math and science, and I enjoy sharing this love with others and helping them find their own love of these subjects.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Florida Institute of Technolofy - Bachelors, Applied Mathematics and Biology (Marine influence)
Graduate Degree: George Washington University - PHD, Molecular Medicine
Hiking, Camping, Reading, Friends and Family,
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Growing up "gifted" with learning disabilities has taught me that there are many different ways to teach, and the best method for a particular student may even depend on the subject. I prefer to work with a student to find a way to make learning fun and interesting for them, so that they can enjoy gaining a new understanding.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
We devise a study plan together based upon their goals, time, and the learning techniques that seem to work best for that student. A guideline is then in place that can be tweaked as the student needs, ensuring that throughout life they will have an independent learning plan.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I have a love of learning and a strong passion for both math and science that I thoroughly enjoy sharing with others. I find students are most motivated when they are engaged and interested in a subject. Based on their interests, I present the material in a way that they would find fun and interesting. This also helps students remember the information long-term. Another method is to show how the material is relevant to them beyond getting the grade or scores they desire.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I try to find different ways to teach each concept. For trickier concepts, I will ask the student to teach me what they think they know. Often it turns out that they know more than they realize, and we figure out where they are getting stuck.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Being dyslexic myself, I have learned that some times you need more than just the words on the page. Both for myself and my students, I have found these methods helpful: reading upside down or through a colored filter (letters move around less), taking pauses to make sure you understood the sentence/paragraph/page you just read, making notes of what you are learning as you go (your own words or pictures), making a list of what you did not understand and why, making a list of vocabulary words you had difficulty with to look up, and summarizing what you learned.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Getting to know what makes the subject interesting to that student works best. When a student finds a topic fun and exciting, they are more engaged in their lessons, and comprehend and retain more information.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Sometimes it is as easy as presenting the material in a different manner. I also like to explain how understanding that particular topic will help them better understand things in their own lives. I also find that my love of math and science can be infectious!
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Verbal quizzing, activities, and having the student teach me the topic are great ways to make sure a student truly understands a topic.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
When a student can teach someone else (me or even a classmate, friend, or parent) about the topic we covered, they realize they really do know what they are talking about. This gives them confidence in their knowledge and pride in themselves.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
A discussion or mini-debate, an informal quiz, and activities all help develop a picture of what a student's needs are.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Growing up gifted with learning disabilities, I have found that it is important to tailor a study plan to the subject and the student. I work with the student to determine what methods work best for them.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Figures and graphs, oral explanations or videos online, verbal or written quizzes, discussions, examples from life, activities, and sometimes experiments.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I learn about a student's interests and goals (both long-term and for the day), what methods of learning work best for them, and what they want help on and why. I then determine where the student's current understanding on the topic is by having them explain what they understand. I will then expand upon what they know to help them to reach their goal for the day. Towards the end I use a quick discussion or quiz to assess how much the student gained. We finish up by devising a plan for how the student will study until next time. Additionally, I greatly appreciate receiving a copy of the syllabus and a few key areas the student wants to focus on before our first session in order to make sure I tailor our learning strategies and activities to best suit the student's needs.