Learning has held a special place in my heart since an early age. I remember watching my grandmother read the daily newspaper from the inside out. Surely, I thought, there must some secret knowledge inside because once she started reading she was oblivious to everything else going one beyond the words on those pages. It's no surprise I learned to read at an early age and my most magical moments about learning came when we would sit together at the table, my grandmother and I, passing different sections of the paper to each other. Never speaking out loud about the information we found, yet calmly waiting for the other to also find it on their own. There's no doubt I would have learned to read, but reading the newspaper at 4 with my grandmother at my side will always be my fondest educational memory. From that one experience I learned many things. First, our joy and dedication to learning can inspire others. My grandmother never said I should learn to read, watching her was encouragement enough. While I was intrinsically motivated to read that newspaper at all costs, some students are not always aware how to make short and long term goals or apply what it takes to reach them. The dedication I put forth to read the newspaper will not be the same effort another student can apply towards something they know they need to do without proper guidance and motivation. I guess the best thing I learned was not just how to read. I learned how great it felt to help someone else do the same.
I'm a High School English teacher. I am a great tutor because I am dedicated to helping students succeed. I persevere. My students can't quit because I refuse to give up on them; therefore, they are not allowed to give up on themselves. With 8 years teaching experience, I motivate students on a daily basis to see challenges as opportunities meant to be overcome and not roadblocks that signal defeat.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: The University of Memphis - Bachelors, English
Graduate Degree: Union University - Masters, Education
I like to read, write poetry and short stories, debate topics, play make-up with my daughter.
What is your teaching philosophy?
My philosophy focuses on what the student knows and not what they don't know. My goal as a teacher is to use patience and a variety of techniques to build each student in the areas they might not have felt comfortable with before. It sometimes involves dispelling myths they learned about themselves through unsuccessful attempts or directly from other teachers. Showing students they can be successful is a great motivator. Students must be encouraged to see the progress they are making even if the progress seems small or not happening as quickly as they would like. The bottom line is always this: students can learn. They want to learn. I want to help them.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Besides introducing myself, I want to know what the student hopes to achieve in tutoring. Other questions I would ask would include what are your hobbies, what topics interest you most, what subject do you dislike and why. I want to use this time to open a dialogue with the student so I can also learn how to better serve them.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
To help a student become an independent learner, you must teach them the characteristics and habits of an independent learner. Show them through the use of modeling how to make these techniques become a part of their everyday study habits so they eventually become second nature.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Some students are motivated by verbal praise of their work and improvement. Other students respond well to actually seeing how they have improved whether that is with a test score, number of correct answers, or a side-by-side comparison of their writing. I use different methods to celebrate their accomplishments. I may tell another teacher on my team how well the student is doing because I know this teacher is also going to congratulate the student on doing a great job. Again, I'm dispelling the myths that many students have unfortunately been burdened to believe about themselves and their ability. When a student see progress, hears how well they are doing, and feels good about themselves, they are primed for success. They will succeed.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
If I am teaching something a student has difficulty learning, then I must re-evaluate my lesson expectations and readjust my teaching methods. Re-teaching in inevitable. At some point I must gather enough data to determine where the disconnect in information lies and develop a plan of action to fix it.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Students who struggle with reading comprehension need a lot of motivation, practice, and patience. I read to my students (or create a voice recording on my cell phone. I stop frequently to check their comprehension of vocabulary words. I read the questions and ask students to paraphrase them. I always use some form of graphic organizer that slows down their reading and makes them focus on something related to the story. I ask students to explain to me what they think is going on. If their answer is not correct, I conduct think-alouds where I will ask myself questions about the text and show the student how I arrived at my answer.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
When teaching writing, my students are more successful with the assignment when I chunk the material into smaller parts, providing feedback as they go. This helps the student see their own progress. It's a great motivating tool. If the student believes they can be successful at the task, they will often try harder.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
First, the student will only become excited about the subject if the teacher is also excited. Creating excitement also includes teaching the material in a new, creative way that will capture the student's attention. Using material the student may find interesting is another tactic. Humor and curiosity are 2 other elements that help to add student excitement and engagement with a subject or assignment.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
To ensure the student understands the material, I will monitor the student's progress. This means I will give the student some time to start on the assignment before I take a look at how they are coming along. Usually when I do this, students know whether or not they are going in the right direction. The anxiety level about whether or not they are doing it right subsides. Immediate feedback is also required in the instances when the student starts a task, but their work shows they don't understand. If I can't repeat some of the previous tips that were given with the instructions, I will think of another, more simplified way to look at the material. Re-teaching the topic is necessary if the student still does not have an adequate grasp and is unable to complete to complete the assignment. It is up to me as the teacher to determine if some remedial instruction is required to help the student master the current content.