School takes up anywhere from 30-70% of a student's waking life, and there is no reason anyone should feel subpar or inadequate for that vast amount of time. I completed my undergraduate coursework at the University of California, San Diego, where I graduated cum laude with a major in Literature in English and a minor in General Biology, so whether you're an aspiring engineer struggling with poetry, or a future novelist grappling with coordinate geometry, I'm on your wavelength. In college I was a classroom volunteer tutor for the Preuss Charter School in San Diego, and I've been working for nearly two years now as a professional tutor, and have thorough experience with a range of subjects and standardized test formats. I also write pop culture articles on the side, and aspire to be a college professor of literature; consequently, I most enjoy teaching English and composition, and pride myself on being able to break down essay-writing to its most fundamental, obvious-as-peanuts basics. When I am not saving children from the abyss of school-related anxiety, I indulge in film photography, kung fu movies, and guitar.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of California-San Diego - Bachelors, Literatures in English
SAT Math: 720
GRE Verbal: 166
Guitar, new music, comics, film photography, animation, movies.
Elementary School Math
High School English
Study Skills and Organization
Q & A
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I always start by asking how you're currently doing in the specified subject. Then I'll give you an example to work through, examine your method, and teach whatever skills/concepts I find to be lacking. Then I move onto related skills/subjects; connections to other concepts is what makes subjects 'make sense.'
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
As a student, when it came to exams, my study guides left absolutely nothing to chance. Give me your problem subject, and I'll not only break it down for you, but I'll tell you how I broke it down. It boils down to this: take your old work, study your mistakes, and study them until you know you'd never repeat them. Move onto the next work, rinse, and repeat.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
First, I emphasize that literally any skill is acquirable by any person of any aptitude level, given the right effort. Secondly, I will tell you that there is no such thing as an average student--we're all given different starting points, and so comparisons are meaningless. Lastly, I will tell you that no one knows what their true potential is--this is terrifying, but also exciting. Never have you known what tomorrow would truly bring, otherwise you'd be sure of everything, right? So don't sell yourself short with preconceived expectations--let's see what you can really do together.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Understanding an idea is like getting to a physical location: you take steps. Sometimes it's okay to take large strides, but if you find yourself getting lost, you must make your steps small to ensure you don't miss anything. My superpower in school was finding these steps, smaller and smaller steps, that inevitably lead towards understanding. If you don't understand a skill right away, I'll break it down further for you, smaller and smaller, and I'll find another route if need be. Often it's just a matter of finding the right analogy, you know?
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Firstly, the right attitude: it's not you, it's the subject--English is illogical and reading is hard if you don't often do it. Secondly, the right method: confront the sentences, though you may hate them, and squeeze out every bit that you understand, while looking up every bit that you do not. Once you've finished a paragraph, summarize it for yourself. Repeat. Thirdly, the right expectations: it's going to be slow-going at first, but every page you read will make the next page easier. But there will be a breakthrough--there always, always is.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
As much as possible, I like my instruction to proceed directly from the students' own experience; I first ask how they're doing in the subject, what difficulties they encounter with assignments, and what comments teachers have made regarding their work in the past. We would then set about rectifying any problems areas they've listed, then I'll give them example problems that might reveal further areas of improvement.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Any subject can become engaging once you're familiar with its rules and with the way you're supposed to 'play the game.' I aim to get students as familiar as possible with these rules so they are able to make creative choices within that subject, thus making it interactive, intuitive, and engaging.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I like to ask oblique, out-of-the-box questions that will highlight different aspects of the material. Sure, you can find the slope of a line algebraically, but can you also do it visually? And can you see the connection between the two approaches? Connecting any given skill to related skills is another surefire way to make sure a concept is thoroughly understood: if you understand the slope of a line, how can you use slope to tell if lines are parallel or perpendicular?