I've been tutoring Verbal Test Prep since first taking the tests myself, and have worked at two Tutoring Centers providing intensive instruction to high school juniors and seniors preparing for their SAT/ACTs. Accurate grammar, the ability to read quickly and efficiently, effective essay structuring, and time management strategies are essential to test success, and form the core of my lessons. I've always been a high scorer and excellent test taker, and have refined my abilities through years of teaching, and would love to share my experience with you!
I also have extensive experience in tutoring high school and middle school academics, including AP and IB Psychology, and academic writing, and have worked with students across a range of ages and skill levels to achieve their academic goals. I am a TEFL certified English language teacher, with multiple years of experience teaching English overseas, having lived in both Thailand and Laos, and worked with students of all ages and skill levels. My lessons have ranged from language activation and phonics in kindergarten, to grammar instruction with teens, to conversational business English with adults.
Whether Test Prep, ESL, or academic tutoring, I take great pride in my work, and am committed to my students' success. I attribute my success in school to my love of learning, and I endeavor to share this enthusiasm with those I work with, and strive to make my classrooms fun and engaging environments in the pursuit of that end.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of San Francisco - Bachelors, Psychology
SAT Verbal: 730
Reading fiction, non-fiction, and poetry; playing and listening to music; playing guitar, drums, or bass; travel; service work.
High School English
IB Economics HL
IB Economics SL
IB Language A: Language and Literature
IB Language A: Language and Literature HL
IB Language A: Language and Literature SL
Study Skills and Organization
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I'm a firm believer that learning occurs best when you're having fun, and I strive at all times to make my lessons engaging and entertaining, in order to share my love of learning with you or your child.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
The first session is a great opportunity to get to break the ice and get to know one another, as well as to discuss the learning goals the student has and what sorts of steps we should take to reach those goals. I always devote time in my first sessions to introductions, comparing favorite musicians and movies, and brainstorming academic strengths and weaknesses and forming strategies on how to use or overcome these.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
The ultimate goal of any tutoring is to equip the student with the strategies, habits, and confidence to direct their own education. I pursue this end by sharing my enthusiasm for learning, imparting and providing examples of strong study habits and techniques, introducing students to resources to help them in their learning, illustrating connections that make the subject matter of their lessons relevant and important to their lives, and making the learning environment a fun and engaging one, in order to foster their intrinsic motivation seek out knowledge.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Engaging my younger students with learning games and activities to make classes fun, or challenging older learners to spot the ways that their subjects interact with and connect to the real world around them, are two ways I seek to foster intrinsic motivation in my students.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Sometimes it's necessary to think outside the box, or approach a familiar problem from an unfamiliar angle. The same can be true of learning, and when one method is found to be wanting, it falls upon the teacher to determine a new approach. Substituting the theory for practical applications of a concept, or switching from visual or auditory activities to tactile, hands-on engagement are ways to overcome potential difficulties.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Discussing learning goals, strengths, weaknesses, and strategies for approaching these is always a solid foundation upon which to begin with an older student. Regardless of age, the factor I've found to be most predictive of success is early connecting and rapport building, as we all learn better when we are engaged, receptive, and at ease, and especially when we're having fun.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I employ concept-checking questions, and ask my students to reteach me learned material in order to gauge comprehension.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Finding work that students are successful at within their subjects is a great way to build their initial confidence before confronting the more challenging components. This can mean finding an aspect of the subject they already have familiarities with, or recasting the problem in a more familiar setting.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Whether through open discussion with the student and their parents, or through attention to their areas of difficulty as we work together, I aim to assess where my students need the most help, and address these areas.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I greatly enjoy learning, and strive to share my own enthusiasm with my students. One way that I try to promote excitement in difficult or uninteresting subjects is to help illustrate the ways in which they actually connect with our everyday life. I feel a subject often has to be relevant before it can feel worthy of effort, and showing students how what they're studying in school may actually be at work in their own lives can be very empowering in this regard. Of course positive reinforcement and encouragement is also a boon in hard times, and I aim to celebrate correct answers and good effort, while minimizing focus on errors and placing them into context as simply part of the approach to mastery of the subject.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
A key to success in teaching (particularly one on one) is flexibility and adaptability. I strive to identify my student's needs by being attentive to their learning and progress, and I evaluate how responsive they are to my teaching approaches. If drilling the information is not meeting their needs, I'll switch gears and focus on more practical work with the content; if a student struggles to retain material, I will challenge them to start teaching it back to me as we go, so that I can stay on top of how well they are assimilating it. No matter what, the student's needs are always first, and my job is to best serve those needs, and to be capable of determining how to do so.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I teach a wide variety of subject areas, and so the materials I use varies widely. With students seeking academic support in their school subjects, I will often make use of their own course materials or textbooks, and supplement these wherever appropriate with informative content I may take from internet sources. In tutoring psychology, I find it to be fun and informative to watch YouTube videos depicting examples of experiments, studies, or phenomena that we discuss in the context of the student's syllabus. In academic writing or English language instruction, I will typically draw from my own experience and lead lessons primarily with my own speech, taking notes on the online platform as we go, and then rehearsing with the student for practice and accuracy. Finally, for ACT/SAT exam prep students, I make use of resources I have acquired in my time as an exam prep instructor, as well as online practice tests and any of the student's own materials (when available). These sessions are often highly unique, targeting the student's individual needs, and so content used may be as specific as vocabulary or grammar gap-fill exercises, reading passages for speed and comprehension training, essay prompts for writing practice, or, in the case especially of the notorious old format SAT, a dictionary and thesaurus for collegiate vocabulary!
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
With ESL students, difficulty in reading comprehension will often indicate a difficulty with a particular grammar form or with novel vocabulary. In these cases it is necessary to first identify what is proving problematic, and then to re-teach and rehearse this item. With students studying for the SAT or ACT, in which there is tremendous time pressure on the reading components, the key is more often to teach my students how to focus on the most important information available in a passage: that which is necessary to answer the questions correctly. The skills required here include passage analysis abilities, familiarity with paragraph structure and passage format, and practice with reading quickly and efficiently while taking notes of key information. This is often the most difficult part of the verbal test sections for students, and it is one that I typically spend much time on to ensure they leave confident and armed with rehearsed strategies.