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Helping children to learn became a passion for me when two of my own children struggled with learning disabilities. I home schooled three of my four children from elementary school through high school graduation. Once my own children were grown, I began to work in the public schools as a paraprofessional working with students who had learning difficulties. During this time, I studied to get my teacher???s license at Weekend College. From 2013 to 2015, I worked as a special education teacher, in a public school setting. I am currently excited about using my experience and training to tutor students who need support. As an educator, I firmly believe that all students can learn if information is presented in a manner that maximizes their learning styles, and in an environment that encourages exploration and persistence.

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Barbara’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Augsburg College - Bachelors, Special Education


As well as tutoring, I enjoy reading, knitting, scrapbooking, Irish dancing and taking long walks.

Tutoring Subjects

1st Grade

1st Grade Writing

2nd Grade

2nd Grade Writing

3rd Grade

3rd Grade Writing

4th Grade

4th Grade Writing

5th Grade

5th Grade Writing


College English

Elementary Math

Elementary School

Elementary School Math

Elementary School Writing


High School English

Homework Support


Middle School Math




Special Education

Study Skills

Study Skills and Organization



Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

My teaching philosophy is that any student can learn with the right encouragement and support. By incorporating lessons that use a student's natural learning style, each student is able to maximize their learning.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

For a first session, I would spend a little time talking with the student and the student's caregivers to determine exactly what the student's needs and abilities are. Also, I might give a student a simple evaluation to complete. This would give me an excellent idea of what the student's strengths and weaknesses are, which would allow me to best tailor the lessons for each student.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

As I am helping a student learn, I will make it a point to notice whether the student is able to complete the work without prompting. As soon as I see the student being able to complete the assignment, or even portions of the assignment independently, I remove prompts and allow the student to work independently. I will not re-introduce a prompt unless, I see that the student is making a consistent error, which must be corrected. Generally, students enjoy the feeling of competence which they gain by completing work correctly on their own.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

I like to change up the ways that I teach lessons. While worksheets and homework are an essential part of tutoring, sometimes making a game out of the work for younger students, or helping older students track their improvement, will increase motivation.

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

When a student is struggling with learning a new concept, I make sure to present the concept through the student's primary learning modality. Some students learn best by seeing a concept presented visually, or perhaps in diagram form. Others will require some hand-on activities to truly incorporate a concept. Others need to sit and listen while you demonstrate the concept. Almost every student learns well by breaking the concept down into smaller pieces and learning the pieces one at a time.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

The most effective way to increase reading comprehension is to help the students learn to connect the new concepts in their reading with familiar concepts. This may mean reading several passages with them and stopping frequently, to discuss what they are reading. As, they learn to connect new information to old information, you are also able to teach them to recognize when they have lost the meaning of the passage, and to re-read for meaning. Some students need to take time to visualize the passage as they read. All of these methods can be used to enhance reading comprehension.

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

The most important thing to do to help a student get excited about a subject is to be excited yourself. Enthusiasm is contagious. In addition, most students become discouraged about a particular subject, because they become convinced that they are not smart, or not able to learn this particular subject. It is important to consistently praise and show excitement about a student's progress. Whatever the student is able to do correctly is worthy of encouragement. As students begin to see themselves as capable, their engagement in the subject improves. I often offer short card games at the end of the session as a reward for hard work. I want to reward effort, even if progress is slow. Ultimately, hard work will pay off and the student will advance.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

I like to teach the concept during the first part of the lesson, and then allow the student to work independently at the end of the lesson. This allows me to see if the student has understood the lesson. If I find that the student is not able to work independently, then I know that the student has not comprehended the lesson, and it must be taught again, using a new strategy.

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

Research shows that students learn best when the student already knows approximately 90% of what you are teaching. By starting with information that the student has already mastered, and adding new information gradually, a student can gain a sense of increased efficacy in a certain subject. As the student is able to see personal growth, the student gains confidence. This is why it can be very beneficial for students to chart their growth in a subject. This can be done by keeping track of their scores on short tests, or by showing them comparative work, from the beginning of tutoring to the present.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

Discussing the perceived need with the students, parents and caregivers is critical. It is also very beneficial to give pre-tests in subjects like math or science, or to take some measurement or sample in the areas of reading or writing. In addition, as I work with a student, I make notes about their learning styles and preferences. This helps me, not only to know what the student needs to learn, but also to know how best to present the lessons.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

As I learn more about each student, I make sure to approach that student with new lessons taught in their dominant learning style. I also check to make sure that I am not boring the student with lessons that are not moving fast enough, or overwhelming them with lessons that are beyond their abilities.

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

Often, the students have homework materials with them. If not, I prepare lessons using a variety of materials. I use write-on wipe-off boards and markers at almost every lesson. I have one for myself and one for the student. I also use math games, science cards, reading worksheets, and writing workbooks to assist with lessons. If a student is very visual, and we are working in an area with Wi-Fi, I may use a laptop to look up visuals for different concepts. At times, I will bring math manipulatives, or other objects to demonstrate a lesson.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

I like to get to know them, their likes, dislikes, favorite sports, favorite foods, and if they have siblings or pets. I also tell them some things about me. It is far easier to teach someone if they feel comfortable with you. I also like to have them show me what they know about whatever subject we will be working on. It helps the student to learn from a position of competence.

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