Grant writing and fundraising for non-profit organizations has been my career, but tutoring has been my passion. My experience includes teaching English grammar to French children and grammar and composition to college students, as well as tutoring adults from Japan, Italy, Sweden, Mexico and France. I have the ability to establish an excellent rapport with students, and I believe that my enthusiasm in terms of their progress encourages them to excel. I also inject humor into my teaching style so that learning becomes fun rather than arduous. I am a graduate of Arizona State University, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, with a B.A. in French and post-baccalaureate in secondary education.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
First and foremost, find out your student's learning style. Is your student a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner? Once this is established, help your student reflect on the knowledge they bring to the table. Build on that knowledge. Instill confidence in your students so they understand they have the ability to overcome any academic challenge. Learning will become a meaningful and rewarding process.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
The first thing I would do would be to put the student at ease by asking them questions about themselves. Let them know that I am there to help them and ask what particular challenges they are facing. It is important to determine their goals in that first session. I would also determine their interests. Let's take English grammar as an example. Students have a difficult time trying to memorize endless lists of grammar rules. But when you teach grammar by discussing a favorite topic of your student (does he like science, cars, sports etc.?), you are modeling correct grammar. Your student will learn without even being aware of it. I would also look at their textbooks to discuss any specific problem areas. By excellent eye contact and paying attention to body language, I am able to determine quickly if a certain approach works. I am very flexible and tailor my teaching style to each individual.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Part of the tutoring process is to instill confidence. That confidence results from the one-on-one learning environment. As the teacher, you celebrate each success, small or large, with your student. You empower them with the knowledge that, yes, they can do it! And as they begin to reach their goals (e.g. improved test scores, improvement in writing assignments, confidence in speaking another language they are studying), it naturally flows that they will become independent learners.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
As students begin to achieve their goals, they will begin to see themselves in a different light. I have found positive reinforcement to be most effective in keeping a student motivated. My true joy in their learning becomes their joy as well.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would talk to the student to find out why they thought they were having a problem. I would then try a different approach. For example, if a student was having a problem with a specific concept in grammar, I would ask them to try to teach that concept to me. Perhaps, I would ask them to look on various websites to help them explain the concept to me.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
We would both read the assigned material. I would then ask the student his overall impression of the essay/article. Did he like it; what did he like or not like about it; what was he having trouble understanding; what did he think the author was trying to say? Getting the student's ideas and thoughts, and encouraging a deeper understanding through "brainstorming" discussions will result in a heightened awareness and understanding.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Putting the student at ease, finding out their goals, lots of encouragement and praise, and making learning fun.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would encourage a student by talking about the importance of the subject matter. Having already ascertained what type of job the student thinks he or she will ultimately pursue, we would engage in a conversation about how becoming proficient in that subject will enhance the likelihood of getting into that field. I don't think a teacher can "make" a student like something they do not like. But a good teacher can help overcome obstacles through the teaching methods described earlier.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
We've probably all had the experience of a student nodding in agreement that they understand something. But their eyes tell you differently. I would then ask them to explain the concept back to me. If, for example, a student had trouble writing essays, I would ask them to write a short essay on a subject of interest to them, using the writing techniques we had discussed (e.g. start with a basic premise, write a couple of supporting paragraphs, use transitions, and end with why your premise holds true).
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Through positive feedback. If I am teaching French, for example, I would encourage the student not simply to read and write in French, but to speak it. One method I have employed is to buy children's books on a subject of interest to the student and then discuss the book. The language is simple, which encourages the student to feel that he can conquer the subject matter and he will not feel overwhelmed.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Simply through discussion.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I tailor each session according to the student's needs and goals. Does she have problems with grammar tests? I would do some practice tests. I would ask her to write a paragraph and then talk about any errors in grammar and ask if she understands the concept. If a student had to give an oral report in her French class and was absolutely terrified, I would ask her to practice with me as the audience. Creativity and flexibility are the keys.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I use the student's textbook as a starting point. During the following sessions, I would bring with me any books that would be helpful. I actually have several excellent books on both English and French grammar that may help clarify certain grammar points. I have found some wonderful short videos on YouTube that a student would find helpful, so I would bring my computer.