As an English Language Arts teacher of 18 years, I have learned that students need to feel powerful in order to be successful. Confidence is everything. It is my duty to equip students with resources and techniques that will enable them to become life-long learners and productive citizens.
Several of my students were not on level with reading, comprehension, and writing, and so I had to be creative in how I presented information and assessed them. At the same time, many of my students were in advanced classes who needed to be challenged and prepared as they relied on ACT/SAT scores and scholarships for college. It became second nature to differentiate my lessons and teaching in order to accommodate all of my different learners. Some of my successful methods come from my own experiences of being an at-risk student. I shared the steps I took in order to overcome odds and how to set and meet goals. I tutored during evenings and Saturdays. I encouraged students to come in for help during my lunch and planning periods and permitted them to sit in my classes during their study halls, free periods, etc.
When students' needs are met, they feel empowered to accept opportunities and ultimately transform their dreams into reality. Every student deserves the right to be heard and taken seriously regardless of his weaknesses or needs. I am excited to help your child reach his educational goals and become more motivated.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: West Liberty University - Bachelors, English Language Arts 5-12
Graduate Degree: West Virginia University - Masters, Severe Multiple Disabilities
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Q & A
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In a typical first session with a student, I would spend some time in getting to know him. I would ask him specific questions regarding his strengths and weaknesses and what his definition of a good teacher is. I would ask him to share some stories about his best moments in school, in sports, a club, etc. I would give him a chance to ask any questions he may have about my teaching / tutoring experience before beginning the actual session. It is oftentimes during these kinds of conversations that I can gain some trust and respect from the student. Once this groundwork has been laid, the learning process can begin.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I can help students become independent learners by equipping them with resources they can access on their own. When students are able to discover answers on their own, it boosts their sense of pride and confidence. They realize that they are then able to do this same kind of resourcing in other courses.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I help students stay motivated by including their likes and interests in the lesson they are studying. If the material being covered is not made real to them, they are not going to make the connections necessary to learn and apply the concepts to their lives. For example, if I am teaching a poetry unit and students are not interested, I have encouraged them to bring in their favorite songs for the class to hear. I would then have the students explain what the lyrics mean, and then we would begin to pick out the literary elements of the song and how it is really a poem as well. These discussions usually lead to more advanced talks that include audience, tone, purpose, and occasion of the song.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
The first step in helping a student overcome a difficulty is to make sure that all basic information is understood. Oftentimes, some reteaching is the answer in order for them to move on to the higher level activity / piece. Sharing multiple examples is also beneficial for students so they may see that there is not just one correct way to produce a final project. Students also appreciate outlines, rubrics, and timelines for a step-by-step process in order to reach the desired goal. This tends to take some of the stress out of the equation.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading aloud and together tends to help students who are struggling with reading comprehension. I also encourage students to read the questions to be answered before reading a passage as they may see specific words, definitions, numbers, etc., to look for. Students need reminders that main ideas will normally be in the first paragraph, and that the moral/lesson of the piece will be near the end of the passage. Students should annotate as they read. I encourage students to use highlighters when reading as well to mark important information, words they may not know, etc.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
When I start to work with a student, I find out how he really feels about the current assignment. As we are discussing this, I listen for his strengths and weaknesses, and then be very careful to cater to both. I encourage him to let me know when he may need a quick break so he does not become frustrated. Sometimes, it's the little things that can make a difference.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
When students become frustrated, I am quick to change the process we are using for the assignment. For example, if a student is struggling to analyze a speech from a Shakespearean play, I have the student replace one of the speaker's words with one of their favorite modern day actors / artists while I take the role of another speaker. Through some laughter, we usually begin paraphrasing the original text and then begin discussing the speech without the student even realizing he is doing it.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Assessment depends on the student. Some students do well with small essay questions while other students like multiple choice questions. Some students do not do well with traditional testing, and so I will give an oral test; this consists of us simply discussing what would be test questions, but allowing the student to do it verbally. Some students are more artistic, and would be able to show mastery of content by creating a reenactment of a scene, a newspaper from an era of the piece studied, etc.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
The better I know a student, the more I know how to boost his confidence. I believe that students should be complimented often for their improvements, and not just on grades. I let my students know when I see them trying harder, focusing on projects, etc. I also thank them for questioning things they do not understand, as that shows seriousness and maturity. I enjoy sharing with them each time I see improvements and growth.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
When evaluating a student's needs, it is very important to have input from parents and if possible, his teachers. Obviously, I need to listen to the student about what he would like to be able to do. The more information I am presented with, the better I can do to serve the student.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
It is very helpful to have instructions, rubrics, drafts, etc., from a student in order to meet the requirements of an assignment. I am careful to focus on the weaknesses of an assignment in order to help the student learn what he missed and to not repeat the mistake on future assignments. Knowing my student's personality, goals, and needs helps me decide which approach to take. In addition to this information, it is helpful to have input from parents as to what I could do to help the student be successful.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I would obviously use the rubrics, drafts, books, etc., that the teacher would require the student to use. I use a few educational websites as resources for examples, samples, etc., as well. I also use my own reference books for grammar, usage, and literature questions.
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy stems from my experiences coming from a poor dysfunctional family. When my students struggle, I share with them ways to overcome obstacles and not give up. I do not believe that there should be secrets or surprises in the classroom. Students deserve to be respected and appreciated They need to be taught how to find credible resources and answers on their own. Sometimes effective evaluations should not be limited to paper and pen, answering in essay format, and following all rules of grammar. Outstanding educators will go beyond the traditional methods in order to create a classroom environment that is fun, safe, and real to her students. She will grant exceptions and extensions to ensure learning at all levels.