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As a UC Berkeley graduate and community college Instructional Assistant, I have developed a passion for education and personal tutoring. Years of experience writing creatively, academically, and professionally have provided me with the skills necessary to assist students of all ages with their essays and homework. Whether the student is just getting started with brainstorming and idea development or putting the final touches on a paper and in need of help revising and editing, I am here to assist and encourage in any way possible. I believe in developing a student's skills over a period of time, rather than simply providing the short term answers simply to achieve an immediate grade. Writing is a skill we develop over the course of our lives, always learning and improving, and it is a skill we will always need, whether we're writing high school essays or cover letters for promising careers. I look forward to helping every student develop and refine their written skills on an individual basis, paced for the student's needs. Thank you.

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James’ Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: University of California-Berkeley - Bachelors, English Literature


Reading, creative writing, social justice, film, video games, music of all genres, bicycling, hiking, backpacking, education, social media, politics, feminism, race equality.

Tutoring Subjects

College English

College Essays

College Level American History

Comparative Literature


English Grammar and Syntax

Essay Editing

High School English

High School Level American History



Public Speaking

Social Sciences

Social Studies


US History


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I believe that learning is a process that cannot be solved simply by knowing a quick answer. My teaching philosophy is to develop a student's writing over time, providing them with skills that will last a lifetime.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

For me, the first session is all about getting to know a student on a personal level. I find that a student who can relate to me as an equal, rather than a form of authority, will be far more comfortable in receiving the assistance they need. The first session will allow me to evaluate where a student is individually, so that we may work from there at a pace conducive to their development.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Motivation comes with progress. To help a student stay motivated I believe in a constant state of progression and accomplishment. Completing a small task successfully inspires learning and a desire to accomplish more.

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

First, exposure to a skill or concept is often daunting and frustrating for a student, and if gone about the wrong way can create a wall between the student and the material. I believe in pacing the material at the student's individual level to meet their specific needs. Providing different yet similar concepts and equating the two can often help a student see a pattern between the known and the unknown. No two students learn the same way, but there is always a path toward understanding whether it is initially difficult or not.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

Reading, like writing, is a skill developed over time. As with essay writing, reading comprehension is best done sentence by sentence. Rereading, whether once or several times over, and then discussing together the material, helps a student develop patience in their learning, and builds confidence in their comprehension. Progress can come slowly, but each step forward makes future comprehension easier.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

I believe in letting a student explain to me the material they are working with and where they are struggling. Each student is different, both in skill and comprehension, and the key to helping a student successfully is to understand them individually. There is no standardized format for education and understanding. A student must feel comfortable with their tutor to let their guard down and begin to learn. This is my primary strategy when first meeting a new student.

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

The key to understanding is found in comprehending the relevance of a subject and how it ultimately benefits the student. My experience in helping students has given me skills in engaging them by providing the context and importance of a subject, illuminating how it is not only important, but interesting and fun. Learning for students often feels like a necessary evil in getting a passing grade, and my technique is to rather inspire learning for the sake of knowledge and individual development.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

Asking a student to explain to me the material from memory is a good indicator. By switching the roles temporarily and acting as the student, I will ask them to teach me the material, and will prompt them to explain further by asking questions for my own comprehension. This role reversal will show both myself and the student where they are succeeding, and where they are lacking in the understanding of the material.

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

Working at a pace developed individually for the student will build their confidence via small victories in understanding that add up to a larger whole. Comprehension can come slowly, so working together slowly is the best way to learn. It is also important to constantly remind a student of their progress and success, especially in moments that are frustrating and trying for the student. Focusing on successes, however small, will keep the student's confidence levels up and make learning easier.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

A good start to understanding an individual student's needs is to allow them to explain the assignment and material to me, as I review it myself. Prompting their comprehension of the project by asking critical and specific questions will provide me with a good indication of where the student is strong and what areas are in need of development. There are many paths to be taken in learning, and the more I ask the student, the more I will be able to assess their individual needs.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

Adapting my tutoring to a student's individual need is the foundation of my teaching philosophy. I employ a variety of techniques and tools to find the best way a student can become familiar with the material. If one technique fails, another will be implemented in a manner that does not put the student off or dissuade them from further learning. Once a successful approach has been found, it can be used until it is no longer useful, at which point a new approach will be implemented.

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

Often few materials are actually needed, as the primary tool of education is the voice of the tutor. Pencils, paper, a laptop, these things are helpful and necessary, but most important is the human interaction and understanding between the mind of the student and the mind of the tutor. Additional materials can be implemented for specific situations and students, depending on what works best for the student in question.

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