I was born and raised in San Juan, PR. This makes me a native Spanish speaker with an academic background in the language. It also means that, to this day, I do not enjoy our cold Chicago winters.
I moved to Chicago to attend college. I have a B.A. in History from The University of Chicago and a M.S. in Education from Northwestern University. I am also a former teacher. I taught 5th grade Language Arts and Social Studies at a CPS school. I am certified in elementary education and have a middle school endorsement in Social Studies. I love teaching, learning, and helping students do a little bit of both.
I am passionate about politics and education. I am a big sports fan. I intensely root for my teams and defend my beloved Bulls. In my spare time, I love to do yoga, read, try new recipes, watch engaging TV shows, spend quality time with my friends and family, and travel the world.
The University of Chicago - Bachelors, History
Northwestern University - Masters, Elementary Education
High School English
SAT Subject Test in Spanish with Listening
Study Skills and Organization
What is your teaching philosophy?
I strongly believe in the desire and ability of every student to learn. Moreover, I believe in the importance of differentiation, of meeting students at their instructional level, and adjusting your teaching style to help the student to learn. At the same time, I believe that meeting the socio-emotional needs of a student is as important as helping them succeed in the academic setting. In order for the latter to happen, the former has to take place.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
During a first session, I think it is important for the tutor and the student to get to know each other/become comfortable with one another. I like to get to know the student, his/her interests, and his strengths and needs when it comes to academics. This allows to better target future tutoring sessions to achieve our goals as a team. Moreover, it allows us to work for effectively and in unison throughout our time together.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
The best way to help a student become an independent learner is to provide them the strategies and tools to do so. Thus, the focus is not on just teaching a specific, for example, math for a particular test, but teaching a student how to critically think, how to effectively study, how to manage his/her time efficiently, etc. Moreover, it is important to help a student become more confident in their abilities; teach them that they are capable of learning on their own; that a tutor/teacher is a facilitator/guide in the learning process but the student has the power to lead/be in charge of the learning process. Empowering the student is essential to helping him/her become an independent learner.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
A student loses motivation when he/she is not challenged enough, when he/she is working on things that are too far his/her zone of proximal development and, thus, becomes frustrated, or when he/she does not feel engaged. My job is to make sure the student has enough challenges and successes in order to want to continue to working towards bigger and better goals. Moreover, as a tutor, it is my job to determine what intrinsically motivates the student, in order keep him/her motivated. Figuring out what a student likes and cares about is essential in this case; by adjusting how I teach (using basketball analogies to explain something to a sports fanatic, using visual aids for a visual learner, etc.) will allow the student to learn and stay motivated/on track.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Be flexible. Adapt. Modify. Teaching is about changing and adjusting the approach based on the student's needs. This might mean teaching a concept in a different way, reteaching a previous concept, hands on learning, videos, etc. This is determined by both research on education and observations/conclusions drawn from working with the student. The approach changes based on the particular student and subject.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
The first thing I would do is determine the reason behind the reading comprehension issues. I would want to know if the student is struggling as result of fluency issues, vocabulary acquisition issues, limited background knowledge, etc. Moreover, I would determine if the student has issues across the board or if she/he has issues with literature and nonfiction or with one but not the other. Furthermore, I would test the student to see at what grade level she/he is reading with and find out whether she/he is trying to read books that are above it. A student cannot improve in reading if he/she is reading books that are years beyond his/her comprehension level. Once I have determined the source of the issues, I would target my teaching to meet the needs of the students. For example, if the student needs to develop more vocabulary, we would focus more on that while still targeting other parts of reading comprehension. I would also make sure to find engaging books in subjects that interest the student. (Again, books that at their independent reading level.) One of the best ways to help students improve their reading comprehension is to get them to enjoy reading and to do so on a daily basis. Thus, a struggling student, any student, should read for leisure as well as to meet the academic requirements.