You learn best what you love best. That's about as philosophical as I get when it comes to tutoring. Take me, for example. I love students. I love watching their eyes light up when they "get it" for the first time. I love discovering their little quirks, what makes them tick, and what gets them pumped about life. Essentially, I love learning about YOU. That's what I'm here for - I'm excited to learn about you, so that I can help you get excited about learning! I promise, it isn't as cliche as it sounds. Seriously, think about that thing you can't wait to do - that thing that gets you out of bed in the morning, and hangs out in your brain whenever you have a spare minute. Know what that is? That's called Passion. Whether or not you realize it, you've got passion. Everybody does, for one thing or another. I'm here to help you connect that passion to your learning. Think I'm up for it? Let's chat!
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Columbia International University - Bachelors, Intercultural Studies & Bible
Writing (and reading) all sorts of poetry and fiction, taking nature walks, practicing photography, attending Little League baseball games, sketching, knitting, window shopping, and collecting random bright blue objects
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
When it comes to a teaching philosophy, my approach is pretty simple: You learn best what you love best. My goal as a teacher is to infuse each student with a passion for the subjects they take. I believe that good grades are really just a bonus side effect when passion ignites the learning process. Is every detail "fun"? Of course not. But can we connect the details to create a learning experience that is enjoyable, productive, and pays off on the report card? Absolutely. Join me!
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In any first session with a student, I'm on a mission to learn two things: what gets you pumped, and how do you really feel about this subject we'll be working on? By the end of the first session, it is my goal to connect those two questions and spark some genuine interest in the student's mind for the subject at hand. Connecting intellect with interest launches us into a great start for learning together.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Learning is a privilege. It is not an entitlement, nor is it a chore, but it is a privilege. I am adamant that students understand this crucial fact, because it gives them power in the learning process. When students understand that they are in the driver's seat, it instills in them a sense of ownership - that they can take themselves as far as they want to go! But if they choose to sit back and take their hands off the wheel, they cannot expect good things to come. Enabling a student to grasp his/her power in the learning process helps them to become an independent learner.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Let's be honest. No matter how much we enjoy a given subject, sometimes we hit ruts in the road that just make things painful. When this happens, I want to help the student keep the big picture in mind. Maybe they bombed the test. Maybe this essay just isn't coming together. Regardless, I want to help the student see where they are headed - the progress they have already made, and the strengths they have honed to get there. I also want to help them remember why they are doing what they do. Is the goal in life to be the world's best expository essay writer? Maybe not. But does knowing how to write a solid essay open up doors for all sorts of opportunities to help the student pursue his/her interests? Absolutely. That's why we do what we do!
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would take a step back to the basics. For example, if we got halfway into past preterit verbs in Spanish and the student really started struggling, I would stop and do some review. Let's talk about Spanish verbs. Let's look at all the different ways you learned how to write them. Oftentimes, a review helps us fine-comb the issue for snags we might have missed, which are now tripping up the student. Also, review instills a renewed sense of confidence in the student: he/she can look back and see how far we've come! If the student is still struggling after the review, I would suggest slowing our pace down during sessions, so that we don't skim over the tough stuff until we have mastered it as best we can.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
When it comes to reading comprehension, I believe the biggest trouble spot for students is concentration. Whether it's a lack of interest in the material, distractions from surroundings while reading, or maybe even emotional preoccupations, I have found that students never comprehend when they cannot concentrate. My goal in helping students with reading comprehension would be firstly to get them talking about the material with me. Do they like what they're reading? Do they think it's boring? What is something interesting we can find in the text? Once we can spark a little interest in the reading, I believe we will make great strides in comprehension. If, on the other hand, it is outside circumstances which are distracting the student, I would encourage the student's parents to help them set up an atmosphere where the student can focus better.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
The single, most successful strategy I have found to be successful in working with students is encouragement. Most of the time, students who feel good about themselves will begin to feel good about learning, and will start to open up to me as a tutor in the process. That is why I find it to be so crucial, when I first meet with a student, to learn as much as I can about his/her interests. The more I know about my students, the better equipped I am to help encourage them in ways that connect to their personal learning style. Although I am well aware that instruction is a big part of tutoring, I firmly believe that establishing an encouraging atmosphere is, first and foremost, the key to success with students.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I've said it before and I'll say it again: you learn best what you love best. If a student is struggling with a subject, I want to help them to connect some dots as to why this subject might be worth getting excited about for them, personally. What do they want to be when they grow up? What sorts of people do they admire? Is it possible that this subject fits in somewhere along the way to their personal goals? Take writing, for example. Lots of students hate it, but I think that is largely due to the fact that they see essay assignments as frustrating, rather than empowering. Writing gives you the keys to the kingdom, so to speak, when it comes to communicating your opinions. And who doesn't want to make their opinions known? I love writing, because I know what it can do. If you can write well, you can communicate well. And for those who can communicate well, the world holds no limits.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
One technique I have for making sure that students understand the material is to have them teach it back to me. As a tutor, I get to do a lot of the talking, but this is a crucial point in the learning process; if you can teach it, you have mastered it. Therefore, I would do a little reverse-roleplay with the student, making sure they can explain to me what they've learned, so that I know they have really learned it!
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Encouragement is the brick-and-mortar of confidence for most people. If someone tells me over and over (and over) again that I am good at something, pure psychology reasons that I will begin to believe I am good at it! That's called confidence. As the tutor, it is my job to call out a student's strengths over and over (and over) again. Even if they are severely struggling in a certain subject, helping them to see the things they are good at - the parts they have mastered and the effort they have made - builds in them a sense of confidence that can propel them over the rough spots in that subject. In my opinion, another label for "tutor" should be "cheerleader" - because in all honesty, that is the key to my job.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Grades are just the beginning when it comes to evaluating a student's needs. I can look at a report card and read that they are struggling, but it takes at least one session of getting to know them before I can begin to understand why they are struggling. By reading their cues in how they sit, how they talk about school, and how they treat me, I can begin to piece together the needs that are really going on. Students who want to talk about everything but school (most likely) have needs involving concentration and interest when it comes to learning. Students who only talk about the grades have needs involving perspective, perfectionism, and probably are in need of some encouragement. I enjoy learning about my students, and I hope they will enjoy learning with me.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I try to be flexible and attentive when it comes to the needs of my individual students. Normally I like a lot of conversation about the subject (talking typically generates interest), but if the student is shy and quiet, I would adapt my methods to more open-ended questions and "show me" strategies. This enables a student to come out of their shell and exert some power in the learning process. On the other hand, if the student is a chatterbox and we aren't getting anything done, I can take a more firm approach with explanations and a "let me show you" strategy that ensures we stay on track.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I always like to have the student's work in front of me during a session. Depending on the subject, I might suggest some additional materials (for Spanish, I recommend a curriculum which I personally used to become fluent in the language), but I want to be sensitive to the load the student is already carrying when it comes to homework. That is why my supplementary material recommendations vary, depending on the student. I prefer to stick to the material they are using in school (so as to simplify things for them), but if a need arises I might suggest some additional materials/handbooks/etc.