I have always been the kind of person who enjoys helping people. Not just with their homework, or carrying their groceries, or making a phone call, but helping to boost their sense of self worth by being a cheerleader; not through false flattery or adulation, but in convincing them that through hard work, focus and determination, they can conquer whatever difficulties hold them back at improving their skills in whatever they set out to do. I also enjoy connecting with people one one one, learning who they are, where they came from, discovering what makes them tick. This helps me in my teaching process - there is not one mold of teaching that fits everyone...it's important to be flexible in your teaching style without losing the underlying pedagogy of the subject matter. I have a great ear for languages and know four fluently, with another two at a basic level. Once you know one language, it's easier to learn another, once you start understanding the underlying rules of grammar that link all languages. I've also traveled a lot, and have lived for chunks of time in most of the countries whose language I speak. Language is not only a form of communication, it's about culture. That understanding of culture I could bring to the student I'm tutoring, to give them more depth of knowledge of the language. I've also been trained in the idiomatic pronunciation (diction) of these languages (I'm an opera singer) so I would be able to help the student pronounce the words with a more native-sounding accent. Finally, I've been teaching voice for many years and have worked with many types of students over that time, from all ages and backgrounds. This has given me a lot of experience that would transfer well to my tutoring. I look forward to working with Varsity pupils!
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Manhattan School of Music - Bachelors, Voice
Singing, traveling, listening to music, reading, outdoors, sports, going to concerts, politics, languages
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Help the students help themselves. Be a booster of a can-do attitude, and help them learn to never give up.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would get to know them a little bit to help break the ice between teacher and student, and tell them a little bit about me. It's important to be comfortable with a teacher to make the student feel at ease, which makes their learning process easier. Then I would ask them to tell me what they might be struggling with in their studies, or what they have questions about.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Teach them a format for learning. Help them learn how to study - that going over a chunk of a problem could be the key to helping to solve the greater problem. Also, making it fun. This gives them more motivation to learn on their own - it will tweak their curiosity.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would try to help them visualize it. Or, I would create a game or a rhythm to make it more memorable than just some rote exercise.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
This is not my purview except in comprehension of a foreign language text. However, I would break down the sentences into phrases and clauses, see if they can understand those, and then put them together.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Getting to know them. Putting them at ease, taking away any possible intimidation by teacher to student. Then working slowly at first, to see what clicks most easily with the student.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
In a foreign language, talk a bit about the culture of the people who speak it. Get them to speak the words out loud a few times, or even teach them a song in that language.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I would go over it a few times in the beginning, getting them to speak the material out loud. Then I would move on to another area for a while. After this, I would go back to the original material to see if it stuck. Then repeat. Repetition is a key factor in remembering.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I'm very encouraging. I believe everyone has the ability to conquer whatever struggles they are having in a subject. I will tell them that. I've worked with so many different kinds of people, and I have developed a lot of patience and can teach the student to be patient with him/herself.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
It takes one, or at most, two sessions to really get to know a student and what they are more naturally capable of, as opposed to things that are less natural (for example, some students may be able to read the language well, but are hindered when they try to speak it). I would take each aspect of the subject matter and go over them separately, and this will make the strengths and weaker aspects rise to the surface.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Again, getting to know them a bit in the beginning helps me to understand their personality a little bit better. If they are shy, they may be more timid about speaking the foreign phrases. Or, if they are gregarious, they may spend more time speaking and taking risks without paying attention to detail. I would focus on the skill they may be lacking in, and work on that first, then go to the part that they are more at ease with.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Pencil, notepad, a dictionary (both online and portable), and a language grammar book (both my own and the student's textbook).