I started tutoring as an MFA student at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and have since had the pleasure to aid many students in achieving their academic goals. My two degrees in writing could give you a hint about my passions, but as a tutor and a student, I thrive on all kinds of knowledge. My experience as a tutor has taught me two things: all students have the potential to reach their academic goals, no matter how challenged they may be at first; and a student who feels empowered to take control of their academic destiny is capable of anything. I have had success as a tutor because I take great pleasure in working with students who are in the process of finding their own voices and sense of achievement. While the process of doing so is never easy and at times frustrating, a little patience and a dedication to understanding the individual variances of each student keeps my job consistently rewarding.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Naropa University - Bachelors, Writing and Literature
Graduate Degree: The School of the Art Institute of Chicago - Masters, Writing
SAT Verbal: 730
SAT Writing: 750
Writing, painting, drawing, photography, film, cooking, reading.
College Level American History
High School English
High School Level American History
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
As a tutor, focusing on the needs of the individual is key! One of the biggest challenges of learning is the feeling of trying to "fit into" a new way of thinking. When the process of learning takes your individual experience into account, the transition into new practices or content gradually (and I would argue exponentially) gets easier.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I think identifying challenges is key, but coming up with some strategies the student can walk away with after the first session is also pretty important. My hope is that we can apply small changes to your approach to whatever subject and, little by little, integrate these bite-sized, manageable tasks into larger improvements.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Most of the students I've worked with are more bewildered by their bad grades or poor test scores than deliberately doing something wrong. So, first and foremost, a student needs to be able to identify their own mistakes. With writing specifically, a first draft is never going to be perfect. But whether it's issues of grammar, style, content, etc., if the student understands their own weaknesses, it's simply a matter of giving them the opportunity to problem solve. This not only builds confidence, but builds on the practice they're already doing in class or the real world.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I think identifying a student's strengths helps me figure out how to make a new skill or concept familiar to them. If you're a creative person, some of the mechanics of writing can be confusing. Conversely, if you possess more of a mind for math or engineering, some of the subtlety of style and argumentation might be more difficult. But if we can come up with an analogy that not only makes sense to the student, but connects new content to something they're already very comfortable with, then what was foreign and confusing will eventually become easier.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Once issues like looking up foreign vocabulary or references are handled, I think my first strategy is to trust what the student has already discerned. More often than not, they already understand at least part of the content, but don't quite trust their own thoughts. From what the student already knows, we can continue to break the writing down to fine-tune that understanding to a more sophisticated level.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Getting to know the student's own thoughts or feelings on a subject is important to me. Again, I think an individualized approach to a set standard of learning is key when it comes to tackling what a student might be struggling with. As we start to consistently identify those struggles in a way that makes sense to the student, then the student begins to feel empowered to do the work. So starting less with the test scores or bad grades and more with what the student is experiencing themselves has really worked in that regard.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Connect it to something they already care about! If you're an artist, you need to write artist statements and grant applications. If you're a marine biologist, you need to write reports, or maybe even get published in a scholarly journal. If a student likes music, we can think of an academic paper like a musical composition. If a student is better in algebra, we can think of grammar as an equation. Familiarizing the student with a new subject through something they're already interested in disarms the student and helps to demystify the subject.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Listening to the student is a huge part of how I do my job. At the end of the day, a tutor or a teacher isn't going to be there for the big test or the big research paper, so knowing how that student feels in terms of their own grasp of the subject and their own abilities is key to giving them the confidence to both work on their problem areas and stretch and challenge themselves further, once they master their weaknesses.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
In person, a pen and paper. I think screens can be distracting, especially if a student is trying to correct their paper while we're talking.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I think learning is about empowerment. If we have to chisel down to the studs of a subject just to get the student feeling confident in their knowledge, then it was worth it. People are motivated to learn when they feel like they're capable.