Several things have influenced my decision to enter education. I have always been passionate about education due to seeing the downfalls in our education system while growing up. Conversations with coworkers in a biotech company have influenced me to try my hand at education. Thus, I’ve successfully instructed several students in math and language arts for the past 7 years. Through guidance from other teachers when I first started, I learned that you need to meet students at their level if you want them to learn. Learning occurs beyond textbooks and worksheets. Kids need to and like to work with objects around them to demonstrate concepts. Taking this to heart, I use number and letter cutouts as well as a whiteboard for my younger students. The whiteboard emphasizes writing their letters and numbers as well as addition and subtraction. One of my kindergartners happily showed his mom the alphabet cutouts. Since younger kids like colors, I use colors to demonstrate different concepts such as months and seasons. I had one first grader draw pictures of summer on colored construction paper which he proudly showed his mom.
As concepts become more difficult in nature, sequencing information becomes important as students can only master the problems if they know the correct steps in order. Last year, I was working with a 4th grader on math, which was a tough subject for her. She wasn't grasping the concepts of going between decimals, percentages, and fractions. I decided to write down the problem in each step, which seemed to help. Her father later told me he likes how I teach.
Learning is reinforced by both memorization and blending different concepts. For one of my 6th graders, who was working with geometrical and pre-algebra formulas, I had her create a reference sheet with all of the formulas she needs to memorize and keep it with her. During reading assignments, I have students find words with different parts of speech after they have read the text. This combines reading with remembering the different parts of speech.
Students become successful learners with the right discipline and guidance. I had a second grader who hated reading and one day absolutely refused to read. She was playing a math game since she likes math. I decided to use the game as an incentive. I told her that if she does two math problems she has to read two sentences. This worked!
Students cannot just be expected to grasp material immediately. Issues hindering learning must be addressed. Last year I was working with a kindergartner who did not even know his letters, colors, or shapes even though it was January, the middle of the school year. According to school records, the school knew he was having problems. I took the initiative and was able to get him help from a private practice therapist. Since then, he was able to catch up to nearly first grade level. He could name basic information; shapes, numbers up to 100, letters and their sounds.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of the Pacific - Bachelors, Biology, General
Graduate Degree: Univerisity of South Carolina - Masters, Public Health
Websurfing, swimming, workingout, window shopping, flowers, and cooking
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My philosophy is that students learn best when there is a dedicated, passionate teacher who is able to meet the students at their level. They are able to make learning fun using real-life examples students can relate to. They do not give up. When one approach isn't working, they can think outside of the box to reach students.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
First I would introduce myself to the parent and student as the child's tutor. Second, I will start off by having the child write an essay about themselves in terms of interests, personality, friends, etc. I will be using examples from what they write to demonstrate concepts.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
After a few prompts, I start asking questions such as what is the first thing we do to start setting up the problem or what is the best way to solve the problem as a way to check understanding.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I set goals for each session that must be met before we do something the student likes. I also encourage the student to set personal goals that he/she must hold themselves to, and then treat themselves with a reward only when the goal is met.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I will break down the concept into smaller steps, writing down each step with the same example as we go along. I will let them keep that sheet with the written example as a guide while giving them other examples.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I start by finding simpler books or passages to read. Then I break down the reading into small paragraphs. After about 1 paragraph, I ask them to repeat what they read. If they are missing lots of basic information, I have them reread it. After about 1 or 3 pages, I have them retell what they've read so far.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
After basic introductions and writing a personal essay to describe themselves, I find out what they are learning in school. First we complete school work, and then I work on other concepts that are appropriate for their grade level and level of understanding. For the younger kids, I find that using colors to distinguish concepts of time is effective. Additionally, using hands-on activities for basic math and language arts is effective. For older kids, I find that having them write extensively is effective for writing, sentence structure, grammar, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. As for math, breaking down concepts into smaller steps is best.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
In addition to helping them set personal goals and in-session goals, with rewards for meeting them, I will also use examples from everyday life that they can relate it to. I will also use pictures and hands-on activities to introduce the topic and help them visualize it.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
One technique is asking students to retell what they've read so far. This also involves asking other comprehension-based questions, such as story elements and other specific details. For math, this involves practice problems and testing.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
First, I will talk privately with the student. I'll tell them that I'll do everything I can to help them master the material. We will start out with simpler problems and gradually move to more difficult ones. With each problem that's right, I give a little high five.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I do this by observation and seeing written work. If it's behavioral issues, I start the session by telling the kid what's expected. For example, when it's time to start working, have pencil, paper, eraser available, or I will provide them myself. Next, I tell them there will be one or two breaks when I say so and have them do stretching exercises to handle the hyperactivity. If it's academic, I use what's written down to find lessons to address the areas they are struggling in.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I look at what they show me in writing and their behavior, as well as school reports and parent input. Originally, I was assigned to work with one student on English, but his mom also wanted me to work with him on math. I said "yes" and downloaded a math worksheet with seventh grade math because he was a seventh grader. In another scenario, I had a second grade lesson plan with short stories to answer basic questions, but one second grader started to cry when he saw it. I knew immediately it was too difficult for him. He was an ESL student, so I started him at Kindergarten level and he was eventually able to move up to reading short stories.