I have a double Bachelor of Science in Physics and Electrical Engineering from the University of California at San Diego. I worked for eight years as a systems engineer in the aerospace industry coordinating the technical development of large complex systems (airborne communication systems, aircraft control systems, as well as shipboard cranes and elevators). I spent one year working at an iron ore processing facility as a reliability engineer analyzing machinery vibration data. I am currently pursuing a Master of Science in Psychology from Northern Michigan University. I would like to apply what I learn in the field of psychology to establishing more fostering and captivating instructional atmospheres.
Both of my maternal grandparents were elementary school mathematics teachers. They taught me how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide without ever picking up a piece of paper or pencil. They used objects. I embraced this teaching style when I worked in several tutoring positions throughout my college career. The subject I taught most often was calculus. Prior to using any formulas, I would draw pictures and have conceptual discussions with students. I believe that it is important to introduce concepts in the context of real-world applications first, then use the abstract formulas to represent a concept that is already understood.
I invite you to join me on an adventure through mathematics and science. Together we will discover topics of interest, distinguish preferred routes for learning, and try-on different character traits as we explore each region.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of California-San Diego - Bachelors, Phsyics
Graduate Degree: Northern Michigan University - Masters, Psychology
Hiking, mountain biking, snow skiing, fishing, arts & crafts, working puzzles, and learning new things.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I can help a student become an independent learner by helping them discover what interests and motivates them, by framing concepts in the context of something of interest that they will be happy to remember, and by discussing study habits that tend to work best for their personality style.
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that it is important to introduce concepts in the context of real-world applications first, then use the formulas to represent a concept that is already understood.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Introduce myself. Discuss the student's interests, preferences, and motivations. Find out what textbook a student is using and work some example problems.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
By offering multiple real-world examples to answer the question "Why do I have to know this?" I would offer an introduction to many diverse fields of industry to locate a topic or application that sparks an interest for them.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
My approach would depend on the learning style and personality style of the student. If they are theoretical minded, I would help them see the big picture before breaking it into smaller parts. If they are hands-on minded, I would ensure that they understand the details of the parts and pieces before bringing it all together into a bigger picture. I might break a concept or skill down into smaller parts and draw conceptual pictures to discuss those without the use of formulas. I might devise a game using brain gym exercises so we could perform some physical activity during the session. I might suggest homework activities that include simultaneous physical activity and conceptualization of the basic or fundamental concepts.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I would try an assortment of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic exercises coordinated with the reading of an interesting story. For instance, I might read a story out loud myself and narrate the ideas that I form about the story as I read it one sentence at a time. I might draw a picture as I read a story one sentence at a time. I would try an assortment of reading techniques, leading by example and observing the student for cues on what sparks interest, curiosity, and comprehension for them. I would also offer some resources to the parents to familiarize them with the symptoms of vision-based learning problems and ask if they have had the student's vision checked by an optometrist. I personally wear prism glasses, which have helped my depth perception and reading abilities. I can also share strategies such as using a guide or ruler to isolate one sentence at a time on a page when reading, re-writing sentences that have been read, and tape recording yourself reading then listening to it. I would be compassionate and explain how some of us have to work harder than others for certain skills, but with enough practice, we can do anything we set our minds to.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I have found that getting to know the student is the most useful first step. I inquire about subjects at school that they like the best or worst. I encourage them to articulate what it is about the teacher's style or the situation as a whole that they are drawn to or would rather avoid. I introduce a variety of examples from different fields or career paths to determine which they are most interested in. Depending on the age of the student, I might introduce certain vocabulary terms from personality concepts to help them articulate their preferences. I believe that behavior and performance naturally improve when the student understands that you care about who they are as individuals.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would inquire about the student's extracurricular activities to find an activity that they enjoy, then draw a connection between the activity and the subject at hand. I would make an honest yet compelling case for how this subject is needed to enable them to do that activity that they enjoy. I would also offer many other real-world applications that are only possible through the understanding of mathematics and science principles.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
The technique I use most often to be sure that a student understands the material is to have a conversation with them about the material. If they can explain the material back to me in their own words, and/or draw me a picture explaining a concept, then I know that they have an understanding in their mind. I have them work problems with me and explain the rationale for each step.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Practice, repetition, and positive feedback. Repetition is a strategy that gave me the confidence to succeed in my academic career as a double major in physics and electrical engineering. I would apply all three learning styles (auditory, visual, and kinesthetic) to the same material. I would tape record lectures so I could listen to them again after class. I would draw pictures and re-write my lecture notes multiple times. My goal on the first round of listening/reading/writing was just to pay attention and not put any mental effort into remembering any of it. My goal on the second round was to understand. My goal the third time around was to be able to remember the material enough that I could go sit at a table with others and explain it to them. All this extra time spent when the material was first introduced helped commit the material to my long-term memory and saved me a lot of review time at the end of the semester to study for finals. I can share the systematic approaches that worked well for me and help them come up with their own unique strategies, depending on their learning style and personality style.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I am always interested in a student's individual preferences, needs, and motivators. I am observing and listening for cues in every conversation we have. The questions and comments they provide when I introduce new topics or examples can provide insight into the inner workings of their mind. Depending on the child's age and vocabulary I might ask them directly what they feel they need to work on most, I might discover it on my own through observing them work problems, or I might talk with their parents about what they have observed.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
By offering a variety of techniques utilizing all three learning styles and observing what type of feedback I receive from the student for each one. I believe that it takes some amount of experience with different study methods and different topics of interest before an individual can distinguish their preferences. I aim to provide the student with ample opportunities to distinguish for themselves which study methods and topics they prefer. I also encourage students to begin to articulate what it is about a method or topic they prefer and what is a deterrent for them. Oftentimes, there is more than one way to approach a problem to obtain the same result. If they can articulate which method is the best fit for how they naturally operate and why, this will provide them with a lifelong understanding of the approaches that they will find most successful for them.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I use tangible objects or photographs of tangible objects whenever possible. If the subject is arithmetic, I might use candy or plastic square pieces for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. If it is an engineering topic, I might introduce a thumb drive or cell phone in order to explain the real-world application up-front to spark interest in learning the details. The end result is to be able to put pen to paper and work out problems using formulas, but I believe in presenting the student with imagery and ideas that may capture their interest and instill motivation up-front.