"I am a part of everything I have read" -Theodore Roosevelt.
I attended high school in Huntington, West Virginia. I graduated magna cum laude from Washington and Jefferson College with a BA in History and English. I come from a family of teachers and it is my intention to continue along with the family business in some form or another. Eventually I should like to earn my doctorate in European History and teach at the collegiate level. Reading has always been a passion of mine ever since I can remember, and this continued love of reading and literature is the key to my desire to help others learn and grow in their education. I believe that all education and all reading, especially in my field, comes down to the art of the story and the importance of conversation. To read is to have a conversation with the author, the characters, and the history of the book one reads. Likewise, education and learning are two sides of the same coin. One cannot teach and one cannot learn if they are unable to communicate in a way that is vital and unique to them. It is this vital connection between subject, student, and educator that I hope to strengthen and encourage.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Washington and Jefferson College - Bachelors, Double Major in English and History
GRE Verbal: 167
Reading (History, Literature, Essays). Exercising. Watching the NBA and MLB. Hiking/Camping.
10th Grade Reading
10th Grade Writing
11th Grade Reading
11th Grade Writing
12th Grade Reading
12th Grade Writing
8th Grade Reading
8th Grade Writing
9th Grade Reading
9th Grade Writing
AP US History
CLEP History of the United States I
CLEP History of the United States II: 1865 to the Present
CLEP Western Civilization II: 1648 to the Present
College Level American History
College Level American Literature
College World History
High School English
High School Level American History
High School Level American Literature
High School World History
High School Writing
Introduction to Fiction
Middle School Reading
Middle School Writing
SAT Subject Tests Prep
Study Skills and Organization
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
The basis for my teaching philosophy is that every student is different and needs to be taught in their own particular way. For me this is the exciting thing about being a tutor; it allows me to learn and adapt with every single student I take on. I believe education is, at its core, still what it has always been, which is an education. The ancient Greeks had their symposiums as the basis for their educational system, and it is my goal to emulate that system whenever and however possible. That is, I believe that to teach, as much as to learn, one has to be willing to listen as much as one is willing to speak.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
For me a first session is more about establishing how the dialogue will work between the student and me as much as it is about imparting knowledge. Before I begin anything else I want to know how the student feels about the subject, how their class or classes operate, how their teachers operate, and what they are hoping to get out of the tutoring experience. Only after this all said and done do I want to begin looking at grades, goals, and subject matter.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
To become an independent learner, and this is true for everyone regardless of academic status or regard, one first has to learn how to ask questions. Not simply reactive questions to the problem at hand, but questions that tap into the natural, wonderful curiosity that is humanity's constant companion. I want students to enjoy asking question, to become excited when an unknown appears. On my part this means always being willing to research and find sources to sate this curiosity. Once a student is comfortable asking questions, and learning how to read to answer them, the goal is to teach students how to go about researching sources for themselves. This is the basis of all independent study.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Motivation is formed by two the combination of two pressures: internal and external. External pressure, which might be called societal pressure, is the force that tells us we must work to be successful. The pressure to maintain goals, test scores, college admissions, etc., are examples of this. Understanding this pressure, and its value is necessary to staying motivated. However, true motivation is sustained by internal pressures. This is the realization that one is never done learning and that this fact is a wonderful thing. That learning something and pursuing knowledge every day regardless of external pressures can become the bedrock of a happy and successful life. So, to summarize, to help students stay motivated I impart the very real importance of external pressures, such as grades, while at the same time encouraging and aiding them in delving into any aspect of the subject at hand that they find interesting or exciting.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
One of two ways. Repetition, for good or for ill, will always be the tool of the teacher. Mastery of anything requires time and effort. In many cases an inability to learn is simply a matter of time management and discipline. The other side of this coin is that everyone learns differently, and must therefore repeat different manners of learning. If a student is unable to grasp the meaning of a, for example, historical fact based on text, then provide an image or video. If statistics fail to impart to them the experience of a certain war or revolution, look for a novel or memoir. When one is moving furniture one does not give up if the furniture does not fit the first angle one tries. You readjust and try again, and most of the times things fit.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I believe that reading comprehension difficulties are in essence a feeling of being overwhelmed. When confronted by a sea of words, some of which might as well be in Greek, many students shut down, and rightfully so. So it becomes a matter of showing a student how to see the trees first, and the forest second. Teach them how to parse out the important subjects and actions in a text and to then construct a whole. Coupled with patience, practice, and a dictionary, most comprehension issues are only a matter of time.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Without being snide, talking to them. Meet the person and worry about the student second. None of us learn in a vacuum and to proscribe a formula for education is to create a recipe for failure. See how the student's class operates, how they like or dislike how their school teacher teaches, see what their motivation for seeking tutoring is, and then base all subsequent teaching off of that.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
It should go without saying that everyone is interested in something. Everyone is excited and engaged for something in their lives. If this can be connected to subject at hand, then this should be the entry point to excitement, so to speak. Also, a lack of excitement is often a lack of understanding. A student will enjoy, or at the very least dislike less, a subject more if it can be made clearer to them.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
The best way to be sure that one knows a subject is to teach it to someone else. At the beginning and end of every session I like to have students "teach" me about what we covered that day, week, year, or whatever it may be. Having them lecture, as it were, for only a few minutes immediately exposes gaps in understanding, that can then be filled.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I like to stress that I am a tutor, not a teacher. That it is my job to discuss and teach, not to grade and judge. Being comfortable to make mistakes and learn from them without negative consequences on my part is vital to building confidence. I also like to stress that everyone can improve their understanding of a subject. Everyone can grow from where they are now and nothing is completely inaccessible.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
A student's real needs correspond with their desired outcome. Most students, in combination with most students' parental figures, the desire is for better grades. In these cases the need then corresponds with the current problems in meeting these grades, which is not usually too difficult to parse out. Looking at a moderate sample size of a student's work and grade history usually finds the culprit, whether it be problems with essay writing, factual knowledge, impatience with multiple choice marathons, boredom, etc. Once this is discovered the "need" is the solution or solutions to those problems. On the other hand, if the need is a genuine desire to learn for its own sake, which of course still happens at a wonderfully consistent basis, then the need fulfilled by providing guidance and source information. Everything mentioned here is only a matter of having enough conversation and enough of the student's work to study.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
By conversation, and then by trial and error. Most of the time a student knows what kind of tutoring they need, if perhaps they lack the exact vocabulary to express it. Once this is worded out, over time, then trying new methods, and variances on those methods, until finding the exact combination that works is the way to adapt. If a student has trouble with a concept, make a course of study that stresses tangential material, such as basic economics to the Great Depression. If the student just lacks for facts, then load them up all the facts they can digest and wait for them to get hungry again.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
As I teach mostly history, I usually draw from a number of monographs and studies. I use this information to prepare overviews of historical periods and historical themes. Then, depending on the student's needs for that subject, something lighter for "homework" is usually in order, such as a YouTube video or comic strip that relates to the material. Something that is not academically rigorous but provokes thought, even if unconsciously. Heavier academic sources, such as journal articles or public domain works are kept as backup to use as necessary.