I am a biology major at Stony Brook University. I will be graduating this coming December and will be applying to medical schools for next year. Since I was young science especially biology has always fascinated me. Biology is the study of life and is a science that all of us can relate to. Growing up I too struggled in grade school and would often need the help of tutors to enrich my learning experience.
Throughout this journey I've had the incredible opportunity of being tutored by some of the best teachers, many of whom explained the material better than my own professors did. Each of these tutors had their own individual styles of teaching and explaining concepts, and I have tried my best to assimilate their techniques when I teach students. My approach to teaching is very eclectic as I pick and choose the best strategies and ways to help students learn the material. I served 3 semesters as a biology teaching assistant at Stony Brook where I tutored students in subjects like Cancer biology and Cellular biology. Having taken the AP Biology exam and the SAT II Biology E/M in high school I also am aware of the type of material that is being tested in high school.
With every student I meet I try to get to know their unique circumstances. Having a syllabus of their course work would be helpful since it would allow me to see which topics I should be focusing on. I am very willing to help my students succeed and welcome them to email me whenever they have questions.
Aside from school, I have many interests and hobbies. I have been an avid piano player for the last 12 years and performed many times for NYSSMA. I am also a practitioner of Karate which I have also been doing for about 12 years. During my free time I like to read non-fiction books and write blogs online. I enjoy meeting new people and believe everyone has an interesting story to tell.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe in breaking down complex systems into simple terms. I love using analogies and different tricks to help students remember what they are learning. Most of all, I firmly believe that to appreciate and succeed in biology, it is critical to understand why and how biological components do what they do.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would get to know the student better and identify his/her weaknesses and strengths. I would also ask for the student's class syllabus so I can get an idea of which topics they will be encountering. I believe in taking a personalized approach because every student is different.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
In regards to biology, I will help to create an appreciation for the subject and teach the student how to study for exams in the future. In my experience, once students gain the confidence and patience to learn the complexities of biology it becomes easier for them to gain independence.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I would encourage the student to keep trying and to not give up despite how daunting a subject may appear. I like to also enliven the learning experience by using practical examples of how the subjects we will be learning apply to the real world. If a student pushes on, the reward at the end of the road is very satisfying.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would dig deeper to identify what concepts are specifically troubling. If it is terminology that they are having trouble with, I would take some time to help them learn the appropriate scientific vocabulary. Previous students I tutored in college also received my email and could contact me whenever they wanted. I would extend this opportunity to my future students and would use this as a medium for additional help. This would allow me to also share any online articles or other resources, which could better elucidate some of their confusions.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading is a skill that can only be improved with practice. If a student is preparing for a standardized exam like SAT Reading or MCAT Reading, I would teach him/her techniques to extract the important information to correctly answer the questions.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Using analogies and diagrams has been particularly useful. I often have the student bring in their textbook or PowerPoint slides from class, and we will go through them. If there is an important diagram, I find I will explain the underlying processes and specifics.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would use plenty of real world examples that make the subject more lively. I can also create mini games within our tutoring sessions, giving the student an opportunity to revisit the material that was previously learned. I don't like to just lecture to a student for an hour, so I always find ways to engage them.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Asking them questions throughout the session or by having them explain a concept to me. By doing this, I can see what weaknesses they have and what to specifically address.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I like to help students tackle a subject one small step at a time. With each step, they increase their confidence. When a student finally understands a concept, they will be amazed at how far they have come and realize that patience and determination yield great rewards.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
As I go through the material and ask questions, I will come to know the student's specific needs. I also ask students if they have any particular difficulties, but in many cases they may not know. Often, students are so confused and overwhelmed that I prefer to just start somewhere, and along the journey we both come to discover where the confusion lies.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Throughout the lesson, I will come to know the student's individual needs. If a student, for example, is having trouble with the basic terminology, I would start by first helping him/her better grasp the basics before moving forward.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I have students bring in their class PowerPoints, notes, and textbook since that is where the tested material will lie. In addition, I have many resources/materials like flashcards, notes, and online videos that can further enrich learning.