I am a recent graduate of the University of Oregon where I Studied Biochemistry, and minored in fine arts. During my time at school, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work at Springfield High School where I tutored students both in the classroom and in after school programs. This experience was incredibly rewarding, as the evidence of my daily work could be directly observed, and the difference I was making seemed to have a real impact. This opportunity prompted me to continue tutoring. My experience working in a high school showed me how different each student’s ability in any given area can be. The understanding that each student learns differently and therefore requires a different approach was an important lesson that I learned through my time tutoring in Springfield. I believe that any help in a student’s studies can be useful, and that I can offer practiced guidance in aiding students through often difficult subjects.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is that every student can excel given the appropriate guidance to their unique relationship with the subject matter. Patience during this process is critical, and in a large classroom setting, teachers are not always able to offer each individual student the time to move at their own pace in order to truly master the material. Practice is critical to understanding difficult material, the more time and energy spent on something, the greater the chance of success becomes. As a tutor, I can help students on an individual level and allow them to move at an appropriate speed.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Understanding a student's current capabilities is critical to being able to effectively help them through tutoring. In a first session, I would probably see what a student could tell me about what they are having trouble with and would attempt to determine how best I can aid a student with their studies. This may mean asking students to show me how they usually study for this course, likely having them try their normal assignments and then helping wherever they need it. The goal of a first session of tutoring would be to get to know the student, specifically to understand in what area a student needs the most help and to start aiding them with their studies.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Being self driven and independently motivated to learn is something I view as critical to the success of any academic career. Fostering the ability to learn independently can be challenging, but by allowing a student the opportunity to try problems out before being too heavy-handed with instructions can give students the chance to work to figure out the material first and is the usual strategy I try to tutor with. Of course, many students do try on their own and simply are having trouble grasping difficult concepts. At that point it, it can be incredibly beneficial to have someone who already understands the topic there to help explain it.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
After an hour of studying difficult material, it's hard not to get tired of working on the same thing. However, perseverance at these times can really benefit learning; therefore, keeping a student engaged is a critical consideration of a tutor. I find that if a student gets tired of studying something specific, it is often helpful to try to change the types of problems that are being worked on. If a student is having a particularly hard time with focusing on something, a little bit of review will not only help them master new material often, but will hopefully be easier for them and therefore more likely to re-establish their focus.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Nothing is impossible for a student to learn and master. However, it is common for students to struggle to grasp more difficult and abstract concepts. When tutoring, if we come across a problem a student is having a particularly difficult time comprehending I am happy to walk a student through how I would approach such a problem. This is usually enough to get a student closer to understanding the topic, but if further explanation is needed, I usually try to get the student to try to explain what they understand about it so far and try to fill in any gaps that might exist in their understanding. This process is repeated until they are comfortable with the material, and supplemental discussion and review is added as needed for each individual situation.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading comprehension is rarely an issue with math and science courses in the same way it is with other subjects. Usually if a student is having trouble understanding something they are reading, it is because they are missing something from previous lessons. In order to aid with this problem, first I need to determine what it is they are having trouble understanding. Then, I would review the material that could aid them to understand it better, this may mean defining terms they don't understand or trying to explain more general concepts they are struggling with.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I have found that when starting with a student, it is really important to determine their level of understanding towards each new subject and from there, to try to figure out what areas they need the most help with. Usually additional practice targeted towards the specific areas they are struggling with is the most helpful way to help them improve their skills.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I find that it is easier for a student to be more interested in materials they are having success with. The more discouragement a student is faced with, the more likely they are to lose interest. With this in mind, I usually try to make sure a student doesn't brood to long on any one problem. If they are having too much trouble figuring something out, I try to explain it a bit so they can continue without feeling like it is hopeless, because obviously it's not.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Having a student attempt problems on their own is a good way to check to see if they really understand the material. In addition, having students try to explain the material is another good way to really cement the concepts in their heads and to check for comprehension.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
More practice is the most important way to improve a student's skill, and the more exposure a student has to a subject the more comfortable and confident they will be in trying to do similar problems in the future. Reassuring a student who may be struggling with a certain subject that they will understand it, and that a lot of others undoubtedly also struggled to grasp difficult topics is another good way to build a student's confidence, and keep them motivated to keep working even when they may find it difficult at that moment.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Dialogue with a student about what they need help with is usually the most effective and therefore the first way I try to determine how I can help a student. The hope is that they know what they need help with, but this is not always the case. Working with them through the material on what they need to learn is another way to figure out what a student may need to succeed with their academic goals. Checking in with them and seeing how they feel their progress is coming along is another way I determine if I need to make any adjustments to the way we're approaching their studies.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Each student can have very different needs when it comes to furthering their academic goals, and this will undoubtedly affect the way I try to help them. Whether a student responds better to talking through problems or working it through themselves and then asking me to explain things they are having troubles with or if they learn best through seeing how to tackle a problem, I am happy to try and adjust my strategy in whatever way will make their learning the most effective and least stressful for them.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
In my experience, most teachers are truly interested in seeing their students succeed, and with this in mind, the material I usually go to first are the assignments given by the teacher, which I think they made specifically to help students with the course. After that, I usually like to use the student's textbook or where the teacher chose problems from, in order to find more practice problems. I think the Internet is a great resource, and if further material is needed, I usually look online to try to find something that could be useful in learning.