I hold a Bachelor of Music in Music Composition from Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington. I have also studied philosophy as a post-bac student at the Universit Jean Moulin in Lyon, France. I have worked professionally with children and young adults in educational settings for more than five years, and as a volunteer for two years before that. I started as a high school volunteer, tutoring my peers in core areas such as math, sciences, reading, and writing. Since then, I have been employed as university study group facilitator, university academic tutor in languages and sciences, private music teacher, and most recently as English as a Second Language teaching assistant in France.
My tutoring process, in which I combine my excellent observational and critical thinking skills with a praxis-based approach, has been extremely effective with students from all disciplines. I identify thinking habits or missing pieces of information that contribute to a student's difficulty, then set up an example or problem that will allow the student to realize they are making the mistake as they make it. Once the student is aware of the mistake, we work together to troubleshoot the thought process that leads to the mistake. My students notice dramatic improvement in their test scores and classwork, but most importantly they come away with a sense of confidence and the tools to improve their learning process. In tutoring sessions, I combine humor and a positive attitude with strong expectations. I recognize that students are individuals, and adjust my approach to engage each student in the most meaningful way for them.
I'm available for tutoring in English, French, ESL, music (including AP theory), SAT core and test prep and writing/editing/college essays. My favorite subject to tutor is music theory, both because of its complexity and because of the depth of potential benefit for learners. Although it seems abstract and bizarre, I am convinced that everyone can become "fluent" in music theorywhose benefits include a deeper appreciation of music, better understanding of how to practice, and the ability to start composing one's own music. Often those who struggle with music theory already know so much about music that all it takes is just a few tiny bits of overlooked or misunderstood information to produce those "aha!" moments. I am currently writing my own music theory method book for adult learners which I hope will empower interested students to take up music at any age.
My non-academic hobbies include the outdoors (I'm an Eagle Scout, so backpacking, camping, and hiking figure prominently), running, languages (I'm conversationally fluent in French, planning to start Spanish soon), literature, mythology, and video games, especially Starcraft 2.
I enjoy sharing knowledge and learning along with my students. I am so thankful to have been able to make tutoring my profession.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Eastern Washington University - Bachelors, Music Composition
SAT Verbal: 750
SAT Writing: 790
Running, camping, video games (currently on SC2 and Heroes of the Storm), music, languages, literature, and mythology
AP Music Theory
High School English
Study Skills and Organization
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My process has been extremely effective with students of all disciplines, from sciences to arts to basic study skills. How? I combine my excellent observational and critical thinking skills with a praxis-based approach. I identify thinking habits or missing pieces of information that contribute to a student's difficulty, then set up an example or problem that will allow the student to realize they are making the mistake as they make it. Once the student is aware of the mistake, we work together to troubleshoot the thought process that leads to the mistake. My students notice dramatic improvement in their test scores and classwork, but most importantly they come away with a sense of confidence and the tools to improve their learning process.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I generally reserve the first session to get to know the student: their goals, where they are with the material, how comfortable they feel with their own learning process, and their strengths and weaknesses. From there we work together to briefly sketch out the sort of things we might cover and the ways we might work together in sessions. This doesn't usually take the whole session; after that, it's on to the content!
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I use a praxis-based approach, which has been extremely effective with students from all disciplines. I identify thinking habits or missing pieces of information that contribute to a student's difficulty, then set up an example or problem that will allow the student to realize they are making the mistake as they make it. (I don't like to make people guess as to what they're supposed to be learning.) Once the student is aware of the mistake, we work together to troubleshoot the thought process that leads to the mistake. This is the most important step—correcting and nurturing thought processes so that they move towards clarity and understanding (and therefore mastery and confidence) rather than confusion.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I believe motivation is a resource that can be depleted, refilled, and properly or improperly managed. Having a comfortable balance between struggling to learn something new and being able to feel success in what you're doing seem to be the two most important aspects. I pay close attention to the sorts of problems we're working on, and whether or not they respect this ratio. (Research has shown that students should be succeeding about 50-80% of the time in order to retain their motivation).
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I can identify two main components of reading skill. The first is the ability to understand and summarize information at different levels of magnification (word, phrase, sentence, paragraph, chapter, etc.) Since when reading we generally move from larger to smaller in recalling the content, to build comprehension skills it's necessary to work backwards: summarize a phrase, then a sentence, then a paragraph. This builds confidence and mastery bit by bit. The second skill is related to vocabulary: does the reader know enough words (or the right ones) in order to understand the content? Are they able to guess the meaning of words they don't know, based on context? Identifying a list of useful vocabulary based on theme and practicing being able to infer word meaning based on context and word roots are both necessary skills to practice.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
If a student is having difficulty with a new concept, I first try to understand which parts of it are creating the difficulty—where's the disconnect? I then find ways to link this new concept to things the student already knows, either in the current subject or other areas of their life. This kind of metaphoric association goes a long way towards resolving disconnects and preventing further confusion.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I often spend about one third to one-half of the first session just getting to know them—what they like, who they are, how they think. Although this process starts out slow, it gives me the ability to immediately start tailoring my communication style and the content we address to what is most effective for the student.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I use several strategies: first, if this is a subject related to others in which the student has an interest, talking about goals is often beneficial. Knowing that they need to be comfortable with a specific subject to work towards their future professional goals, for example, tends to be helpful. Second, we brainstorm about how the subject relates to other areas of the student's life, in free-associative way. Sometimes describing the "bad" subject in a totally new or bizarre way allows a parallax that resolves some of the disconnects the student is feeling.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
The goal of any teaching is to use specifics as a base to move towards general principles that are internalized. "Testing" the students' understanding moves the opposite way. I often ask students to tell me about the purpose of a formula, then give examples of situations where it might be used, then use it to solve an exercise (broad focusing to narrow). A strategy I particularly like is having the student develop a set of exam questions for the subject. This shows how fluidly the student can move from general to specific, and whether their understanding allow them to project others' responses to the material.