Hi! I'm Jerod. Born and raised in Dallas, TX, I attended the University of Oklahoma where I received a BA in Economics. I had a 4.0 GPA and was summa cum laude; I was also the valedictorian of my class! So yes, I'm a nerd. But a cool nerd. I also play guitar and sing in a band called Conventional Wisdom. I was fortunate enough to be selected for a Marshall Scholarship, one of only 34 selected in the US, which allowed me to study for two years in the UK. While there, I received a master's in Philosophy & Public Policy from the London School of Economics and a second master's from the University of Oxford, in Economic & Social History. While at Oxford I played American football (you have to specify "American" or they'll think you're talking about soccer!) and recorded a short four-song album with a friend of mine.
I really enjoy tutoring and teaching, and have over 8 years of experience. I began as a peer tutor in high school, continuing my peer tutoring in college, and in graduate school I tutored students attending an elite London prep school called North London Collegiate, and helped British students apply to American universities. Over this last summer I also taught economics to 13-18 year olds in Oxford at the prestigious international Oxford Royale Academy. I am now back in the US for good and looking to continue tutoring! My style of tutoring is to engage in a dialogue, rather than a monologue, with my students. I like to ask questions and work through things together, rather than dryly lecturing at you and then testing you at the end. I am very flexible and have developed a good feel for how to adjust our speed; too fast and you'll be confused, too slow and you'll be bored. I applied to and was accepted to law school (including Harvard and Stanford) and had to take graduate level tests for my UK years, and so I can tutor a wide range of standardized tests: LSAT, GRE, PSAT, and SAT (I was admitted to Harvard and Stanford as an undergraduate as well, and was on a full ride scholarship at OU as a National Merit Scholar, so I know the PSAT and SAT well).
I believe anyone can learn just about anything, given the right instruction and level of effort (and interest). With this attitude, I motivate my students to feel intrinsically driven to succeed in their academics, and to adjust my teaching to fit the student's learning needs. I hope we can work together soon!
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Oklahoma Norman Campus - Bachelors, Economics
Graduate Degree: University of Oxford - Masters, Economic & Social History
SAT Composite: 2210
SAT Math: 740
SAT Verbal: 730
SAT Writing: 740
GRE Verbal: 168
Rock music, football, and being outdoors!
GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment
GMAT Integrated Reasoning
High School Business
High School Economics
High School English
SAT Subject Tests Prep
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching method is to engage in a dialogue, where I ask questions and clarify things, and push where I see it would be helpful, rather than a monologue where I drone on at you and tell you how things are. Additionally, I have developed a good sense of where a student's understanding is, so I speed up or slow down lessons depending on ability so student's are never lost or, just as important, bored.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
It is important to build a rapport with students, so I would typically spend a few minutes talking about non-academic things like hobbies and interests, before doing a bit of Q&A about the subject at hand: Are we having trouble or do we just want to stay ahead? Where is the trouble coming from? From there, I would then do a bit of informal "diagnostics" to see what specific areas a student could use help with, as well as what he or she is doing well in. This helps the future lessons be as effective as possible by not wasting time going over things the student is confident in, and also to let me know what things to focus on/not rush through.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Confidence is key. I believe any student can learn just about anything given enough time and the right instruction. Of course, oftentimes this means independent learning; the student can't just study when I'm around! In addition to confidence, then, students need an intrinsic - rather than extrinsic - motivation. They can't just want to learn because their parents want them to get A's; to truly excel they need to want to learn for its own sake. I have historically been quite successful at fostering this intrinsic motivation by linking it to the interest and ambitions of my students.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Again, confidence is key. If a student, myself included, feels completely lost or confused, they will have no motivation to study or learn. In fact, it might be impossible if they don't know where to start! This means building confidence and letting the student know where they stand is key. By having self-awareness, and by emphasizing to the student that the large baseline of knowledge they have was also once foreign and confusing, students can "keep an eye on the prize" and stay motivated to push through the tough times. They are not the only ones to have struggled, and they WILL understand it. I like to tell my students, "Future you has already aced this stuff!"
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
This is the whole point of tutoring! All knowledge builds on prior knowledge, and so I would return to the point at which the student is fully confident, and build up from there. One of the problems of classroom instruction, which cannot tailor to individual student learning styles, is that oftentimes there is not time to discuss the "Why" of things. That is, students are taught to memorize equations and facts without really understanding the underlying mechanisms at work. Once we return to basics, then, we build on those solid foundations, and with an understanding of why things are, students incorporate the new skill or concept.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
The best strategies when we begin are to build confidence and let the student understand that they already know a lot! Oftentimes, but not always, when new concepts are introduced and the student is struggling, it is because something in this baseline knowledge was not as solid as it should be. So, when we begin, we review the prerequisite knowledge required for the new material, filling in and strengthening any gaps, before moving on to the new material. It is futile and inefficient to begin straight away if the problem is caused by a lack of understanding of something they learned earlier in the year, or even in years prior!
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
This is why building rapport is so important in the beginning. While it is best to develop an intrinsic motivation for learning the material, this is not always possible. Sometimes a student simply does not like a subject, and it would not be wise to try and force them to pretend to like it (although "fake it 'til you make it" can go a long way). Rather, sometimes it is up to tutors and parents and teachers to develop a motivation to engage/get excited about a subject because it relates to some other goals they have, perhaps academic or extracurricular or career or college, etc. For example, if a student likes history but doesn't like physics, say, it would be important to link the two. Without an understanding of physics, one cannot have a full understanding of history, especially World War II atomic history! The artificial boundaries of academia make these links less apparent to younger students, but as we all know, the more one learns about any one subject, the more apparent it is that they are all linked together.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
This is a key differentiator between teaching and tutoring. With one-on-one tutoring, a tutor can constantly be checking that a student understands. Oftentimes students, especially those whose confidence has been shot, will say they understand something when they really don't - either because they don't want to appear stupid (they aren't) by asking questions or admitting they don't quite understand something. To test this, then, I am constantly asking the student questions, rather than lecturing at them, so I will organically see that they are not quite understanding a concept, rather than formally testing them, which many students (including me) despise. Additionally, I like to "generalize" material, such that if they understand a simple, practical problem, I test that they understand the actual concept by making it general and using different but related examples. For example, if the question is a math problem, like "How could you rewrite x times x?" The simple answer is "x squared." But why is that? To generalize we could then test, "How could you rewrite x times x times x, where x is multiplied by itself n times?" If there is real understanding of the concept, the student will see that it should be re-written as "x to the n." On the other hand, oftentimes students will get the first answer right but the second answer wrong; this is because classroom teaching emphasizes memorizing and not full understanding! To keep up in future classes, of course, it is the latter, not the former, that is needed.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Confidence is key! I cannot say it enough. The two strategies to build confidence are 1) to emphasize the huge amount of knowledge students already have in a subject area (they can learn math, science, history, etc., as they have already done it!); 2) when engaging in a dialogue with a student, not leading off with the challenging "advanced" questions, which they will struggle with, but rather return to basics and build their confidence by asking a series of questions that they will knock out of the park! Finally, never accepting "I don't know" as a final answer, but rather pushing to see what the student DOES know will show that, while they may not immediately understand the new concept (no one ever does), they do know a lot, and we are simply adding a layer to that large baseline of knowledge.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
This is vital in the first stages especially. To get the most out of a tutoring session, the student can never be lost or bored. This means having a full understanding of where the student is strong and where he or she needs some strengthening. Since my teaching style is two-way - I ask lots of questions and probe for understanding - this happens organically. There is no need for a formal test to see what their score is; rather, simply by engaging in a dialogue and asking relevant questions, my experience shows me where they don't fully understand a concept. This also keeps their confidence high, as they never see that they got an answer wrong or only got 30% of questions right on an evaluation, like formal testing does; rather, I know they don't have a full grasp, and simply tell them they are right about what they said before pushing on and adding new material.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
The primary levers I can pull are with respect to speed and the degree to which the session is two-way versus one-way. Speed is easy to gauge, as if the student is acing all the questions, we can speed through an area so they do not get bored, whereas if they are really struggling on a concept, we can slow down and make sure we really truly understand something before moving on. With respect to the two-way versus one-way, I have found that having the student speak and do as much as possible is usually for the best. However, some students, especially as they get a bit older, prefer to speak less and to observe more. This is fine! I will pick up on this quickly and can adapt my teaching style to be more of me explaining and less of me asking directed questions if need be.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
In person, I typically use many sheets of blank paper to draw diagrams and write down problems on the fly. I have taught enough that often the formulaic books are of more of a hindrance than a help. Online, of course, the dashboard is very effective, and works as a great proxy for old-fashioned pen and paper.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
This depends largely on the level of the student. If we are working on LSAT graduate school-level reading comprehension questions, it is often the very subtle points of transition words ("however," "on the other hand," "thus") that must be cued in on. On the other hand (see what I did there?), for younger readers, vocabularies are not fully developed, and thus teaching "context clues" and being more macroscopic will push students ahead. This, like any other subject or skill, of course depends entirely on the student. Perhaps a young reader's vocabulary is great, but he or she does not have a great feel for an author's tone; in each case, like with other subjects, establishing a student's baseline understanding is key to building on that knowledge. Many teachers and tutors assume reading is importantly different than other subjects; in a way it is, but I tend to view learning as learning. It is all about assimilating new concepts into an existing repertoire, whether that be learning calculus or learning to "read between the lines."