The natural world has been a lifelong fascination for me. As a child, I spent countless hours walking through the woods near my home learning to identify plants as animals. Currently I am finishing writing the publications for a three-year study examining population dynamics in an invaded plant community. I have taught at the collegiate level for four and a half years, including introductory biology for majors and non majors, as well as human anatomy and physiology. I have also taught a summer research course on climate change for high school students, and done presentations on plants and insects for many youth groups.
I am a firm believer that communication is the key to learning. The way that I understand material may not be the way that makes the most sense to others, so I strive to work with students to connect the concepts and facts in a way that they can master them. I took a graduate course on Science Instruction that was not required for my degree to further enhance my strategies and skills as a teacher. My experience has taught me that one of the most important attributes a teacher can have is adaptability.
Outside of research and teaching, I enjoy spending time outdoors with my dogs and sports.
Undergraduate Degree: University of North Carolina at Asheville - Bachelors, Biology, General
Graduate Degree: Appalachian State University - Masters, Ecology
Sports & Spending time outdoors
What is your teaching philosophy?
I have a very simple teaching philosophy. I use a form of the Socratic method. My job is to connect the material to the student by working with them.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would review their previous work and discuss with them the methods that they've used previously. From that, we would work out our strategies going forward.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I can help any student become an independent learner by teaching critical-thinking skills. These skills can make dull topics easier, and fascinating subjects even richer.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Progress is the key to motivation. By giving students frequent reminders, they are much more able to see that even small steps add up to great gains over time.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would first look at my own methodology. What makes sense to me is not always what makes sense to others. From there, I would talk with the student to find where we were connecting on the concept, and try to find a way to bring that part out so that they could master the whole idea.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I would ask them to break the chapter, or section, down into bullet points, so that I can see what parts they are seeing as most important. I would compare that to my own analysis of the same section, and the end of chapter questions. From that, we can work together to see what parts the authors wished to emphasize and what they viewed as most important.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Communication is the only strategy. Finding out where a student is based on their previous testing is essential, because it allows you to go back through the material and ascertain what a student knows, and if testing difficulty is because of lack of knowledge or confusion with how test questions are asked. Once you know that, you can work with them to figure out a strategy going forward.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would connect it to something that they were already excited about. And I would learn what they are excited about by getting to know them.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I prefer to use multiple methods, including quizzes and essays. The most effective, in my experience, is having the student teach the material to me. By having them teach the material to me, I am able to ask them questions which force them to think of the concepts in real-time and explain them in ways that they may not have considered previously. The ability to explain material is what happens when you've mastered it.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Confidence comes from improvement. By showing a student how they've increased not only their knowledge, but their ability to explain it, confidence is built. You can't build it for them; you can only show them how they've improved and let their confidence grow on its own.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
By talking to them. You can evaluate their exams all you want, but without going through them and learning how each student views the questions, you will never learn how they think. Evaluating a student's needs is an ongoing process. It requires that the tutor is constantly seeking to align themselves and the material with how the student learns.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Communication. I find out how to connect what I know to how they think. I ask questions. We work together.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I like to use print outs, 3D models, and whiteboards when I teach. Seeing things in person and recreating them seats the material in a different part of the brain. It also gets students out of their head and into the present moment. Anything I can do to engage them is worth it.