I have a Doctorate of Education, and Bachelor’s and Master’s in Psychology. I’ve been tutoring and teaching undergraduate psychology for years. I really enjoy working with students and helping them succeed. A lot of people love playing puzzles and games. For me, it’s fun to take complex subjects and boil them down to their basic building blocks. I like to be challenged. In psychology, we learn about the importance of practice when it comes to learning. Even a behavior that seems awkward or unnatural can become easy with good coaching and practice. Sometimes a slight change in our thinking can make a huge difference. I moved from California to Texas in between San Antonio and Austin. The people here are so warm and friendly! We’re super happy to be in Texas and I look forward to teaching and tutoring in my new home.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of California-Santa Barbara - Bachelors, Psychology
Graduate Degree: Argosy University-Los Angeles - PHD, Psychology
Enjoys being outdoors, exploring.
College Application Essays
High School English
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
In life, I tend to be practical. My teaching philosophy is too. As a tutor/teacher, I like to help my students succeed. In academics, this almost always means passing exams and/or answering essay questions or writing papers. That is the goal. As a student myself, I know that being able to perform well on exams and clearly present concepts in writing translates into passing courses. Even if we have no interest in a subject, we might have to pass it to move to the next level. That's where I can help! Together, we'll look at your course requirements and come up with a plan for success. This might mean learning about strategies for comprehension and test-taking, or understanding how to put an essay or paper together and format it. Creativity and patience are the keys. If a concept is hard to understand one way, then we'll come at it from a different angle. We can use "real life" examples or make diagrams. I understand that if you're currently looking for a tutor, then chances are you're already a bit frustrated. But everyone struggles sometimes! I had a terrible time with algebra and calculus for years, but couldn't graduate without them. Now I'm super proud I got past that, and you will too. In summary, my teaching philosophy is all about being clear about our goals, harnessing creativity, and practice. That's how I've helped hundreds of students successfully pass courses, and move on to doing things they really like!
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
During a first session with a student, I'd take a few moments to get to know the person and understand his or her goals. What would successful tutoring look like from their perspective? What do they want to achieve? What do they believe are their strengths and weaknesses in the subject area? How are they feeling? I'd like to be clear about what the student hopes to accomplish so that (a) we can develop a strategy and work together toward the student's definition of success, (b) we can get the maximum benefit of our time together, and (c) I can make an initial assessment of my ability to be helpful to this individual and which tools I might use.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Ideally, students walk away from a tutoring experience with increased confidence in their ability to independently approach problems and assignments. To help facilitate this outcome, I need to start by observing and listening. I need insight into the student's unique learning style and challenges. Then, we can develop a learning strategy that will work for them. For example, I recently helped a student with a word problem in math. She's actually good in math but gets frustrated easily. At first glance, the problem seemed complicated and difficult, even to me. Part of what she had to learn was that her first impression about the problem was normal! Then we broke down everything that was known. We went step by step, set up parameters for what the answer couldn't be, and worked through options. In the end, it was actually pretty quick and easy. I think she actually likes word problems now.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
By keeping our eyes on the prize. When I was an undergraduate, we all knew there were "weeder" classes, designed to weed out students who wouldn't be able to master the higher level courses. For me (as a psychology student), it was calculus and statistics. I had to pass these courses in order to graduate. It was kind of tortuous sometimes, but I kept picturing the next step and the step after that. There's also a lot of personal satisfaction that can come by overcoming an obstacle. It helps when you have someone to remind you of that and coach you through it.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I'm guessing that students who seek tutoring are having difficulty learning a skill or concept. When I was a student, that's the only time I hired a tutor! I also remember feeling frustrated and defeated. Hopefully, I can help students by normalizing the situation, minimizing self-defeating thoughts and emotions, and using creativity to get past a learning block. Creativity is an awesome tool. I do this a lot with computer/software problems. It can be so frustrating trying to get something to work, but usually I find a solution by coming at it from a different angle. Practice is also great. It sounds simple, but doing something repeatedly does make it easier, and a coach can help with that until you can master it.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I don't think there's any quick fix for students struggling with reading comprehension. I'd suggest breaking the material down into chunks, because it might not be realistic to try and absorb a lot of new information in one sitting. I'd also suggest making an outline of the material while reading, or making a flashcard for each concept. We could do this together until the student built confidence in this skill. The end result will be a reference and/or study tool, but even the process of writing or typing bullet points forces you to slow down and digest the words. It also reinforces the ideas into memory. When I had to learn complex material in college, I'd sometimes go paragraph by paragraph. I'd read each one several times until the concept was clear, jot down a couple of bullet points, and move on to the next paragraph. It was time-consuming, but having notes or cards to reference was really helpful!
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
The ability to listen and observe are important skills when starting to work with a student. It's important to respect individual differences in learning styles. It's also really important to get the student's perspective of his or her own strengths and weaknesses and what they want to accomplish. I like to make sure that my goals are aligned with the client's goals, so that we're working as a team.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I have a natural curiosity about the world and find this attitude to be contagious. When a teacher is enthusiastic about a subject, students feel it. I like to find ways to relate subjects to a student's life. For example, some dislike statistics because it takes time to understand the major concepts, and there's no obvious payoff for learning them. But in fact, statistics help us make order and sense of the world, and we're bombarded with news quoting research studies. We could find a subject that the student cares about, and see how statistics are used in that arena. This would help the student throughout their life better understand the subject that they already love. I do believe that there is a way to make almost any subject interesting and engaging.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
To be sure that a student understands the material, I'd ask questions and have them answer in their own words. I could also quiz the student, and go over the results together. It's important to practice in a format that mimics whatever will be expected in the course. For example, if the student will be taking a multiple-choice exam, then we should do mock testing in that format.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
True confidence is the result of experience and results. I can help a student build confidence in a subject by practicing with them, and allowing them to come up with the answers. As a teacher, I've seen students gain confidence as they see themselves arriving at the right answers or demonstrably improving writing skills.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I like to start tutoring sessions by asking students about their end goal so we can be clear about working together toward that objective. I also like to ask students about their perspective on their own strengths and weaknesses. This can provide a good starting point for tutoring. As we work together, it's important to listen and observe since a student's needs may change over time.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I adapt my tutoring to a student's needs by staying flexible and being creative. Respecting individual differences is always a good start. I never assume that one way is the best. I like to listen, observe, and respond accordingly.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
It depends on the student and if we're working in person or online. With the online platform, there are great tools like the whiteboard. In person, we might use the student's own materials, such as a textbook or reference book. I would try to be as clear as possible before meeting face to face so that I could bring materials such as an APA style guide or other type of handbook.