I have been tutoring for 5 years and in education for nearly 10. I received my BA in History from UC Santa Cruz, and am currently pursuing my BA in Physics and my M.Ed. in Education from Western Governor's University and the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Most of my tutoring experience is in test prep and ESL, but I have a broad skill set that allows me to take my teaching capabilities and apply them to many different subjects. Outside of tutoring, I enjoy hiking, camping, and playing board games and music. I also enjoy deep dramas and comedies, and I hold a season ticket to this theater season at South Coast Repertory.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of California-Santa Cruz - Bachelor in Arts, History
Graduate Degree: University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign - Masters in Education, Educational Leadership
Guitar, piano, nature, board games, astronomy, writing
Elementary School Math
Mandarin Chinese 1
SAT Subject Test in Chinese with Listening
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that each student has a different learning style that will maximize the efficiency of their studying, and that it is my job to figure that out. Using general banter, academic discussion, and targeted questions, I parse out each student's abilities and preferences, and teach according to that. I use this same critical-analysis mindset in evaluating a student's performance by using data to make it clear where a student's strengths and weaknesses lie, as well to show the student that their hard work is actually resulting in improvement.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
First, I must get to know the student by having a general discussion with them about their hobbies and interests, as well as their own perceived strengths and weaknesses. This will allow me to engage them in future sessions in ways that will pique their interests, and it will also allow me to focus on their needs. Next, I would offer the student a few practice problems to see what their level is, after which I would evaluate them and proceed accordingly.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
The greatest key to becoming an independent learner is discovering that learning is not a mandate handed down from on high, but a pleasure to be enjoyed. In our knowledge economy, lifelong learning is the only way to stay afloat, and so I would instill in my students a passion for learning through dialogue and examples that will help guide them, even long after they have left school.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
The greatest factor that contributes to a lack in motivation is a lack of understanding as to why they must engage in these kinds of learning activities. Connecting learning to the profound nature of life is one of my greatest strengths as a teacher, and I fill my lessons with moments of wisdom that help students understand that they are not simply robots tasked with rote memorization, but are instead insatiable vessels that are seeking to absorb all the intelligence, wisdom, and beauty of humanity's collective knowledge. This is not accomplished in an arresting manner, but is instead seamlessly integrated at random points throughout each lesson, instilling in the student a passion for learning that will break their habitual demotivation.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
There is never just one way to learn a concept, just as there is never just one way to teach it. If a student has difficulty learning a skill, then I would approach it from a different angle, either breaking it down into simpler pieces or trying to connect the concept to something tangible--something that can be sensed. If neither of those worked, then I would look for the foundational knowledge underpinning this difficult concept, and start teaching that until the student has attained mastery. Then, step by step, we would proceed in building up mastery until the student has conquered the original task.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading comprehension is not related to spoken conversation, and students struggling with reading comprehension are often frustrated because they cannot comprehend the reading at the same pace that they can comprehend spoken word. Therefore, I would sit the student down and focus on deconstructing paragraphs, leading them through the logic of the paragraph and teaching them comprehension strategies, like how to guess at the meaning of a word they don't recognize. The biggest problem is that students desire to read like they can listen, but they lack the practiced skill of reading purposefully, and so I would start training them from a more elementary level to construct a foundation upon which they will build to become better readers.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I like to ask students a lot of questions in order to illicit responses that represent understanding. Students often will just nod their heads and feign understanding; in order to counter this habit, I ask specific questions--sometimes with a tone that implies an incorrect answer--in order to keep them on their toes and assess their real understanding of the content. Another strategy that I have found useful is connecting the desired skills students wish to learn with each student's hobbies and interests. This often means that I must spend more time preparing for class (i.e. watching a movie the student enjoys so that we can deconstruct what an introduction, climax, and conclusion are), but I have found the results to be incredibly satisfying. When students are learning through mediums they already enjoy, the result is not a distaste for that medium, but a deeper appreciation for the activity, and a deepening passion for learning.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Again, the easiest way to engage a struggling student is to use a medium or an activity that interests them in order to teach them the desired skills.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Asking questions while we are learning is the best way for me to immediately gauge a student's understanding. Questions that imply an incorrect answer is one way that I find out if a student really understands, or if they are just answering what it sounds like they should answer. This keeps them conscious and aware. I also like to have students teach me how to do a problem. Teaching is one of the most effective ways to learn something, so not only will they be fortifying their knowledge, but they will also be representing it in a way that will allow me to decipher where their weaknesses or misunderstandings reside. And, of course, the most comprehensive technique is to ask students to take a test about the material. This is not my favorite technique, but it is necessary, and I use it in order to show students the data related to what types of problems they struggle with.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Telling a student that they have improved is often not enough to prove it to them; that's where data comes in. I like to show them graphs and data plots that represent visually their improvement in each subject, so that they can see their hard work is truly is paying off.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Data is still the best and most objective way to evaluate a student's performance. Using testing data, I break down the test into sub-categories that show proficiencies (i.e. in the Math section of the ACT, there are statistics problems, algebra problems, geometry problems, etc., and I would provide a % for each of those sub-categories). Data, though, is just concerning a student's tutoring needs, and not their emotional needs. That is where I come in; by keeping a raised awareness of a student's body language, word usage, and general emotional disposition, I am able to better adapt to the student's emotional needs so that I know when I can push them and when I should back off or change the subject.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
A professional tutor has a plethora of teaching styles and techniques available to them, and is able to draw on them whenever required to do so. As a professional tutor for 5 years, and an educator for nearly 10, I have very wide-ranging experiences with many types of students, and have had to adapt to every one of their learning styles. Often, this simply comes naturally to me, but I have also experimented with trial and error in order to broaden my adaptability.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I am willing to use books, handouts, printouts, movies, my or my student's tablet, the computer, YouTube or any informational website, and any other medium that will keep them engaged and help them learn the required material.