A photo of Justin, a tutor from Portland State University

Justin

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No one is a bad writer. I believe that passionately. They just need practice and guidance from a more experienced writer to build a practical set of writing skills.

I have been writing for 20 years. My poem "Hollow Words" was published in the 2007 summer edition of Caesura, the journal for the Poetry Center San Jos. That same year my short story "Static Night" won the Dawson Prize from the PEN American Center. In 2010, my screen play "A War for the City in the Sea" was a quarter finalist in the Blue Cat Screenplay Competition.

My passion for all things writing led to my founding of Gamin Publications. It is an independent publishing company that is rapidly becoming a platform for emerging and experimental authors. Currently I am working with World Fantasy Award winner Scott Nicolay to create an online magazine focused on experimental fiction, especially from indigenous authors.

I am an active member of the Portland writing community. I am a co-founder of The Hour That Stretches spoken word event. The series' primary focus is to promote writing, in all its forms. This has resulted in strange pairings like icon William F. Nolan featured alongside 19 year old feminist poet Anna Suarez. The creation of a space that encourages interracial and inter-generational writing is an overwhelming source of pride.

I am currently a Writing tutor at Clackamas Community College. I have worked as an adjunct in the Art program at Clackamas Community College. My primary focus was introduction to drawing, but I have taught gallery management classes and sequential art workshops. I have also taught college experience workshops for The Clackamas Middle College, a charter school. In every case I worked with Senior Faculty member David Andersen to create curriculum, grading rubrics, syllabi, etc.

Justin’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Portland State University - Current Undergrad, English

Hobbies

hiking, camping, painting, drawing, comic books, road trips, travel, music

Tutoring Subjects

College English

College Essays

Comparative Literature

English

English Grammar and Syntax

ESL/ELL

Essay Editing

High School English

Literature

Other

Reading

Study Skills

Study Skills and Organization

Writing


Q & A

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

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept I would identity the issues the student is having.

What is your teaching philosophy?

I am a process-oriented teacher. I view students as writers who have goals they wish to accomplish. It is my job to identify those goals and work with the student to develop skill sets to accomplish them. I ask questions and then respond to the student's responses.

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

The typical first session with a student is a question and answer session that I use to evaluate the student's grasp of the subject matter. I then evaluate the student's learning style and process. With this information I then address the student's particular issues with the subject matter.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

I can help a student become an independent learner by identifying their particular strengths and helping them to expand on them. I believe that a student already has a basic skill set that has served them in their academic career. It is this skill set that can be adjusted and augmented to help them achieve success in the academic and post academic settings.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

People do things that are pleasurable. It feels good to do something well. I strive to create an environment where a student achieves success based upon their own efforts. Most of my student's stay motivated because they recognize that their accomplishments are their own.

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

Reading comprehension issues fall on a broad spectrum. A student with retention issues needs a different pedagogy than a student with syntax issues. I recognize this and so I evaluate each student's needs and work with them as individuals to address their needs based upon their learning styles and skills sets they already possess.

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

The strategies I have found most successful have been those that assess and identify the student's learning styles and skills and then work to boost those. I have found that helping a student develop skills that are transferable is more important to academic success than teaching to a particular subject.

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

The best way I have found to help a student get excited and engaged with a subject they are struggling in has been to identify what they enjoy about the subject, and then use that to help them access the other areas of the subject. Pleasure is a vehicle into a subject matter that the student may think is dry and bland. It is important to make work enjoyable.

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

For me, reinforcement through practice is the most effective way to help a student understand the material. I would expect for a student to do some work outside of the tutoring setting to help them understand the material we are working on.

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

I help students build confidence in a subject by recognizing their successes; failure is simply another learning opportunity. My favorite anecdote is pertinent here: Babe Ruth struck out 70% of his at bats. He was successful on 30% of the time. And yet he went down as one of the greatest baseball players in history because at every at bat he tried to hit a home run. A student doesn't have to succeed 100% of the time to be great. They just have to try for greatness.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I ask a series of questions about the student's academic history, their successes, and their processes. These questions are guided by the student's responses. Many students recognize their needs, they just haven't been asked questions about them. I also make a lot of notes about the student's responses. I later take these notes and do research about the information they provided: What do these answers mean? What discourse is occurring that the student's answers fall within? What do they indicate about the student's learning style? How can I develop a pedagogy that will address these needs?

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

I use three basic materials during a tutoring session: Donald Murray's "A Writer Teaches Writing," Strunk & White's "Elements of Style," and Edgar Allan Poe's "The Philosophy of Composition." I also use a number of readings from theoretical writers such as Foucault, Althusser, and Hall that will help students understand English as a cultural academic study.