Over the past 15 years, I have worked as an educator in a variety of roles. As a tutor, teacher's aide, and teacher, I have worked with students of every age from preschool to adult. I have worked with English language learners in the United States and Japan, tutored middle school, high school, and college students, and worked as a full-time classroom teacher.
While my strongest areas are reading and writing, I also spent two years studying engineering and have tutored students in college mathematics courses. I am comfortable describing concepts in chemistry and physics as well.
The result of my studies and work in education is flexibility as an educator. I am able to accommodate the subject matter needs of many students, and to modify my instructional style to complement the learning style of the student.
Part of what I enjoy about education is learning how to reach a student in the most effective way possible. Drawing on past experience and finding creative ways to illustrate concepts is a stimulating and rewarding endeavor that usually involves a lot of smiles and laughter for both the student and me. I enjoy discussing and discovering connections between subjects, then using those connections to help create a deeper understanding of the material.
When I'm not working, I enjoy reading (generally fiction and science fiction), playing basketball and running, and watching NBA games.
Undergraduate Degree: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee - Bachelors, English
Reading (fiction and non-fiction), basketball, running
10th Grade Math
10th Grade Reading
10th Grade Writing
11th Grade Math
11th Grade Reading
11th Grade Writing
12th Grade Math
12th Grade Reading
College Level American Literature
Elementary School Math
High School English
High School Level American Literature
High School Writing
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy could be described as holistic literacy. The value of literacy in a student's work may seem obvious, but my experience is that students often lack the reading skills to decode and actually understand what they are supposed to be doing and why.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
My first lesson with a student entails me asking some questions - some to get to know the student personally and some on the material and any specific troubles, then listening and observing. If time permits, I would administer an informal assessment of the student's skill.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I help students become independent learners by making the process enjoyable. I enjoy learning and I model that behavior during the course of instruction. Working through material from any text always excites me intellectually, to varying degrees. Students never fail to notice this.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Depending on the age of the student, I motivate them with appropriate levels of honesty about what academic success means versus academic failure. I soften that dose of reality by relaying my own sincere passion for learning and describing the rewards of intellectual development.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
When a student is struggling with a concept, I have used several methods: 1. Explain the concept in different ways or provide additional examples. 2. Provide additional background information on the concept. 3. Re-teach the concept from the beginning, checking understanding along the way. 4. Draw a sketch illustrating the concept. 5. Move on to the next concept and return to the troublesome one at a later time.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Students struggling with reading comprehension may benefit from instruction on textbook structures - chapters, sections, sub-sections - to gain insight on main ideas. The logical hierarchy can be explained using a simple umbrella sketch. If the issue persists, I may ask a student to read a single sentence or paragraph and then tell me what it means. If the issue is more fundamental, I might diagram a sentence and define the elements of language. This may lead to impromptu drills on basic aspects of these elements. I generally encourage all students to read as much as possible on their own, preferably something they enjoy.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
When I begin working with a student, I listen attentively to ensure I understand where the trouble lies. I ask questions to identify the current level of performance and often use an informal initial assessment. I also ask questions to find areas of common interest to establish rapport. Knowing the student's interests helps me create custom samples to explain concepts in subsequent sessions.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would likely try to illustrate to the student how mastery of this subject relates to something they enjoy or find interesting.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I like to use frequent informal assessments. If I have explained how to work through a problem or concept once, I might take the student through a second example and ask questions about the process as we work the problem. I would then invite the student to try a third problem on their own and assist as needed. Over time, I would use a fairly similar approach, asking the student to explain to me what the process is for working through the problem, and I would also ask questions about key ideas to verify the student is not simply guessing.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I try to explain how no concept is too complicated to understand, as long as the student is willing to put in time and practice. I discuss how the most complex ideas are built upon foundations of very simple concepts.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I evaluate student needs by first asking them directly what is giving them trouble. I ask them to work on some material related to the subject and observe how easily they work through it. I then ask questions about their thought process during the work to ensure the student is not making mistakes along the way.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Depending on the student's personality, I can adjust the tone of my interaction with them. I have worked with very shy, young students and with very boisterous students. Finding the right complement to each student's style takes practice and close observation. I try to listen and watch student body language to gain understanding on what they respond to favorably.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I generally prefer to work with material from a student's school, as the tutoring time is precious. The student is likely to have spent at least some time with it and should be able to understand more quickly.