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I consider teaching in the Bay Area to be a rewarding yet challenging career. I enjoy the diversity, the atmosphere, and the focus on serving the community in a democratic way. The San Francisco Bay Area is a hotbed of political activity combined with a booming tech industry, providing our youth with a chance to improve the traditional career engine that exists alongside great moguls like Apple, Facebook, Google and more. Students and teachers have a unique opportunity to apply their academics to real life challenges and political, social game-changers. I want the opportunity to make sure students develop the rhetorical skills and a mastery of writing to express themselves and make their mark in society. 

I believe students should all have the same access to educational opportunities and that schooling should carefully cultivate, motivate, and holistically assess each student accurately. It is critical to help students prepare for college and life beyond secondary education. I have worked with Bay Area youth for the last 12 years, developing a wealth of skill, awareness, and insight to our most critically in need students. My classes at Skyline High School ranged from newcomer students in ELD as well as AP courses aimed at setting our students high on the college horizon. My masters in social justice secondary education, bilingual Spanish BCLAD credential make me a great teacher candidate for our youth. I am grateful for opportunities like these.

Outside of education, I'm a pretty hilarious guy. I know this from things like students writing a "Book of Bradley" for me as a graduation/end-of-the-year gift (it includes the jokes and off-the-wall remarks I've made throughout the year). Some students and a few colleagues of mine created the first ever annual "Teacher Talent Show" at Skyline (you can youtube it) and students taught us the latest break-dancing moves/dance moves so we'd perform them with the name Shmakin'7. We won or at least made podium each year. I'm also a California boy. I grew up skateboarding, cycling and still continue those very actively. Thank you, and I look forward to working with you.

Brendan’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: University of California-Berkeley - Bachelors, English/ minor in Education

Graduate Degree: University of California-Berkeley - Masters, Secondary Education, Spanish, BCLAD credential

State Certified Teacher


Cycling, skateboarding, novels, and movies

Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

There is no one way to assess intellect, and for this reason we must offer a variety of venues for students to demonstrate competency. I firmly uphold the teaching of state standards and implement differentiated instruction in order to help all students achieve these standards.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

I introduce myself and establish rapport with the student briefly to help our session. I go over some guidelines (ex: feel free to ask any clarifying questions, request pauses for note-taking, think-time, that sort of thing). Then, I get a sense of the student's needs, what works best for learning (describe a favorite lesson or activity they've had, for example), and then I outline an agenda with a goal for the length of the session. I agree with the student on what's going to feel like a success by the end, and provide examples if needed (I want to make 7 useful revisions on this essay, and learn 5 ways to approach these types of essay strengths in the future).

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

I check for understanding frequently, and I can provide a few "on-the-spot" say-backs, something that in their own words informs me they've mastered the concept. I also rely on best practices and whether the student can prove it in brief or lengthier examples.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

I remind students of the goal of education and how some people struggled uniquely (Steve Jobs and his learning disability), my own hard-won successes, and many ways that learning applies to real-life: Writing essays strengthens a person's ability to explain things, to persuade, and to think clearly. I sometimes demonstrate by prolifically explaining a complex idea, then showing them the essay and effort in writing that's behind my demonstration. I also verbally praise well; I'm an inner-city teacher with a wealth of motivating very challenged students.

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

I share my thinking process and pause at certain points to see if they can relate it to me in their own words, or make a helpful analogy to one of their strengths, in or out of academia. I can see when a student needs a respite, carefully marking it as a place to return to when refreshed. I use various learning models, as some think and understand with graphs, attractive visuals, song lyrics, and even pop culture references. I use humor (I'm funny - this I know).

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

I demonstrate the purpose of certain sentences with a rationale (ex: this sentence raises an issue, this sentence clarifies, this one provides insights, etc.). I use color-coding the text, passages, words and sections of text with modeling first (I break up a well-written paragraph into the various parts and their function). This helps the student see the function of texts more clearly when the colors are removed. I practice with them - they color-code a new paragraph with a rationale, we discuss any differences to clarify, and move on. I have a lot of methods to move past difficult words or phrases and show how the context provides clues to the meaning of those.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

Establish some familiar interests, as these provide help during the session - like referring to movie scenes, favorite novels, characters, and relatable ideas. I briefly introduce my education history, my teaching career, the joys teaching for 12 years has brought, and details if they help (ex: certain curriculum examples, texts, methods I've found useful).

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

There are a variety of goals including - rewards at home, goals to meet, verbal praise, personal gratification, explaining how success throughout the student's high school career often serves them in their lives beyond high school, and the incentive of getting into the college of their choice. I also have plenty of examples of former students who have shared their lives after high school and demonstrate their satisfaction in a personable way. A former student of mine went on to host a radio show and began high-paying audio-visual work in the meantime. I can share the radio station, as it's helpful to have tangible dreams in the near future like those, as well as examples of further career-developing student stories from my wealth of 120 students per year.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

I use formative and summative tests for understanding. To check on steps in a process (how to outline an essay, for example), I can have the examples and rationales completed together, then essentially "turn the paper over," have the student fill in parts or the whole shared outline, and help with a few clues. Or, if matching a rationale to a certain step is easier, I defer to that method so the student has some think time and some "match A to B" type items on the screen. If by the end of the session, it's time to review and practice on their own (more independently), I have the student practice with a new prompt to see where steps were successfully completed and where we can return to/revise. Checking along the way to an entire task builds confidence and an appropriate pace for picking up the concepts involved...internalizing the material.

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

I compare successes with other talents of theirs - so I explain that every student is a unique mix of creative talents, competencies, and masters of many subjects. These are helpful, in addition to the above responses (building interest and checking for mastery of subjects), and I find a way to make the student's efforts work and successes visual, verbal, and relatable. In working with revising and editing essays, I add comments that applaud good work and I phrase corrections carefully to keep confidence embedded in the comment, like "I see what you did here, and that's a good attempt, here are suggestions for reaching even higher-scoring revisions...."

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I can check with them verbally, if they're familiar with their needs from previous assessments. If available, a careful look at some documented tests, scored essays, or feedback from other educators always helps. In my own classes, I start with a composition assignment sufficiently long enough and complex to show me how far along they are in their writing strengths and gaps so I can tailor the following work: common grammar errors, essay format, prompt/topic focus, and levels of sentence structure and vocabulary, to start.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

I develop a sense of the student's needs with simple Q + A first, on say the concepts in the persuasive essay, or the personal statement, or theme in a novel, if that's what they're working on. I can also distinguish the needs of English Learners and the "Band-Aids" that come from needing to learn verbal skills (in the real world) while leaving gaps in the writing and reading skills (academic world) that are common, from years of ESL and ELL teaching. I establish the purpose of adapting to these needs so that if the student needs to move along faster in certain areas, they're uninhibited to say so. And in areas where we need to slow down and re-teach, they're just as ready to speak up and make that important change.

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

I have 12 plus years of materials, most essential are the recent curriculum units and lessons I created that are online and interactive, aligned with the latest Smarter Balance/Common-Core state standards. The range in grade levels are 7th through adult ed, most of which are for high school 9-12th grade ELA. These include high interest, student-centered writing skill units like how to create well-organized, evidence-based essay writing : a grabber or warm up (spot the revision and provide a rationale - with some examples provided), followed by discussing the function of topic sentences, lead-ins for examples or quotes, proper quoting, elaboration of the evidence - what it says, means, and matters, essentially- and the best methods of transitioning between paragraphs at the end or concluding with thought-provoking statements, "power-punches" to raise the impact on the reader, and re-reading with a lens for clarity, convincing, and applying the idea to larger ideas and the world. Please review uploaded examples - which will continually expand.