I believe in the value of focusing on the individual student when developing teaching materials and strategies. I also believe that teachers must think creatively and be willing to adapt themselves to new and unusual settings and strategies in order to reach each student. Finally, I believe that my wide breadth of experience working with students of all ages as a teacher of high school youth and undergraduate students, a counselor, and as retreat/trip leader, all combine to make me an excellent tutor, for not only have I taught students in both traditional and non-traditional settings, but I have also become skilled at creatively adapting lessons to an incredibly diverse array of audiences.
Through my work, I have purposely chosen settings (as varied as street outreach to the unhoused in a major metropolitan center and youth/college ministry in a setting of ethnic conflict and division) where I am able to bring both my creative approach to teaching complex concepts, and my skills in student development and counseling to bear on the education of youth. I am highly skilled at connecting with youth in a meaningful manner which respects their context, and values their interests and ideas as valid. I have found that finding ways of tapping into the curiosity of students always helps them to feel both connected to, and excited about, learning.
I excelled in my US History coursework during my undergraduate education, and have built my post-graduate work at the intersection of US and World History, Twentieth-century history of ethnic conflict, and ethics upon this strong foundation. I am confident that I will similarly excel at tutoring students in any of the areas listed on my profile.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: The University of Texas at Austin - Bachelors, History/Government
Graduate Degree: University of Birmingham - PHD, Theology and Religion
Hiking, Reading historical fiction, writing poetry
AP US History
College Level American History
College World History
High School English
High School Level American History
High School World History
What is your teaching philosophy?
I view teaching, especially in the humanities, as a highly interdisciplinary pursuit, where the student is tasked with focusing first on major principles and concepts as tools to understanding the entire worldview of culture, belief, and practice irretrievably rooted in a specific context. I emphasize the practical impacts that ideas and beliefs have on the decisions of individuals and policies of institutions, thus rooting major concepts in the humanities in the specific contexts of history. I focus on developing a student's skills of text-based research, coupled with a strong emphasis on argumentation, both in writing and in classroom discussions.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
First, I would assess what their primary objective of coming to a tutor is. I would determine what their main challenges were, and start imagining, with the student, what strategies the student would be interested in pursuing. Finally, I would determine what the student found most interesting about the subject, and find a way of tailoring my teaching to that interest.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I would focus on developing a love of learning for the sake of learning, coupled with finding a connection between the material and the student's interest. This allows the student to feel excited about learning.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
The very first step is to break down the skill/concept into its most basic components, and then work the student through those, to determine where the challenge(s) lie. I would then locate which components they understand, and utilize those as entry points towards understanding the more difficult components.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading comprehension is dependent on both a basic comprehension of the words and how they are used in context, coupled with an ability to see how the ideas flow. I would thus first ensure that students worked on the discipline of researching words/ideas that they don't understand, and then get into the practice of mapping out the ideas of the paragraph in whatever way made sense to the student, in order to begin to see paragraphs as ideas flowing from one to the next.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Most importantly, focus on the basics: what is the student seeking to understand, what does the student already understand, and what do they find enjoyable about learning in general and in that class in specific.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would uncover what their personal interests are, and then find ways of linking those interests to the subject, in order to have the student see how learning the subject could help advance their own personal interests.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I would begin with basic comprehension tools such as quick quizzes at the beginning of our sessions, eventually building up to having students teach me an aspect of the material at hand, such that I can understand the concept just from the information that they provided.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
By focusing on breaking down a concept to its most basic components, I am able to demonstrate to a student that they at least comprehend some aspects of a subject, usually far more than they suspected. We can then pinpoint the areas that are most difficult, which are often far fewer than the student believes them to be.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Through listening to them, through examining their previous work carefully, and through regular assessments of their progress.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
You must remain open to the student in front of you, and focus on what their specific needs are. You must then be committed to being as creative as possible to locate ways to serve the needs of that specific student.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Motivation requires constant positive attention, so I would consistently demonstrate first what the student already knows, and second what progress they have made.