I know what college professors expect because I've been one for many years. I'm not just an Ivy League grad, but an Ivy League professor too. Early retirement gives me the opportunity to use my experience to continue to help students improve.
Reduce the frustrations and anxiety you feel about tests and writing with an experienced person like me to guide you. Learning should be enjoyable and I am good at patiently building on your strengths while helping you identify and overcome weaknesses. With a good tutor you can find both success and pleasure even in the most frustrating of academic situations.
My students always say I'm one of the most approachable and easygoing professors they've ever had, as well as one of the best, so don't be shy about contacting me! I'm waiting to hear from you.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Chicago - Bachelors, Anthropology
Graduate Degree: University of Pennsylvania - PHD, Anthropoogy
GRE Verbal: 770
GRE Quantitative: 770
classical music, piano, coral music
College Level American History
College World History
High School English
High School Level American History
High School World History
Mandarin Chinese 1
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that learning should be fun, but it is too often a painful and anxiety-ridden experience. I am a kind and patient man with extensive teaching experience, so I know how to impart knowledge and skills, as well as address the negative feelings and lack of confidence that can so prevent students from doing their best.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would first get to know the student as a person. In a relaxed way, I would ask what they like to do in their spare time, and I would share something about myself as well. Once establishing basic rapport, I would then ask the student questions to determine both her/his academic strengths, as well as weaknesses. We would try to arrive at a mutually agreed upon strategy for confronting the problems the student is having.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Learning to analyze how one learns is a cliché because there is genuine truth to it. In order to encourage independence, I would cultivate in students an ability to analyze their own learning style and learning problems. I would first model how we might analyze the problems and later ask the student to do this by himself or herself, thus encouraging the building of confidence and independence.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Motivation first depends on understanding the things that motivate a young person. Academic success can be one motive, but pleasure and understanding is another. I would seek to inculcate both abilities, the desire for success and the pleasure for learning. I would also come to understand how a young person loses confidence or motivation and why. Many times I have found students don't realize how much they know and, if this is the problem (as is often the case), I would point out the true strengths of the young person. This advice, coming from an experienced teacher as I am, is especially helpful.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would try to figure out what accounts for the difficulty. In my 25 years of teaching, I've often found that students are sometimes right in feeling confused by a concept. Some concepts are genuinely confusing and often ambiguous. Therefore, I would try to understand the confusion and affirm aspects of the confusion that might be reasonable. Once doing that, we would seek to understand what is clear and what is not, and take the process step by step. In other words, honesty about the often confusing nature of knowledge is the key.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
This is a common problem I have encountered. I find students often don't understand the way that paragraphs are constructed. They have a hard time relating one sentence to the next. So I would begin at this level, if it seems most appropriate. I might ask them to rephrase each sentence in their own words, and then note the relationships between each of the sentences.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Rapport is essential, as is being patient and relaxed. I always encourage questions, and even allay student fears of feeling stupid, by asking them to begin by asking a question that they think is stupid, rather than an intelligent one. "Don't ask a smart question; ask one that is silly and trivial" I will often say. Shame is a huge factor that impedes learning, and it needs to be overcome by patience and even a sense of playfulness and good humor.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Excitement about any subject starts by relating the subject to the student's own experiences and interests. Math often seems abstract and foreign to students, but I would show the connections between what they are learning and some of the everyday situations in which that math might be used.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
1) quiz the student 2) ask the student to devise their own question and answer it 3) ask the student to build upon what they learn by pointing out how something they have learned relates to a question that interests the student 4) have the student try to teach me, since teaching something is, as everyone always says, the best way to learn it
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I relate what they know and feel confident about to the subject. If a student likes studying business but hates social science, I will show the relationships of social science concepts to business, for example.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I would have a student answer some basic questions orally, but also might ask for a short written assignment as well. Sometimes students are really good at thinking and speaking, but weak at writing. Sometimes it is the opposite.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I need to get to know the student's needs first, and this might not be as easy to do as it sounds. That's why I think rapport is especially important before one can determine just what it is that motivates a student, both in studies and in other areas of life.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I begin with the materials the student has with him or her, but I also encourage use of the Internet, Wikipedia, and dictionaries since these are all useful. Videos on different subjects are freely available and I use these widely as well. They truly enhance learning.