I love teaching and learning. I work very hard to always try to improve everyone and everything around me. By this, I mean that I always offer my knowledge and skills to those with whom I interact and frequently go out of my way to help those who ask. Additionally, I learn through teaching and greatly enjoy helping others increase their skills, understanding, and knowledge of the world.
My background is varied. After high school, I joined the United States Marine Corps for 4 years. After training, I worked for 3 years as primarily a hazmat operator and trainer. I was also deployed to Iraq for a year during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
After the Marines, I moved to the San Antonio region to attend the University of Texas at San Antonio. There, I studied Psychology (major) and Business (minor) with Honors Coursework. I made it a point to attend supplemental instruction classes and help study/teach other students. I often arranged study groups, note or course work exchanges, and one-on-one work with other students. For my electives and core curriculum, I preferred to take challenging classes such as college algebra, bio 1 and 2, general chemistry 1, and honors lectures on advanced psychology processes and pathology. As a capstone, I structured, proposed, and wrote an undergraduate thesis finding a positive relation between test anxiety and trauma-related psychopathology symptoms. I truly enjoyed learning and working in my undergraduate career.
I then attended graduate school at the University of Central Florida studying Clinical Psychology. During my two years here, I studied advanced research methods, psychopathology, and evidenced-based therapy techniques. Here, I made it a point to type up my class notes to email to my cohort to help me and my fellow students learn. I also interned for 1.5 years doing psychological assessment, individual, and group counseling. Within 1 to 2 years, I hope obtain a license as a professional counselor and to continue my studies to a PhD in Counseling Psychology.
On a more personal note, I am excited to work at Varsity Tutors. I like to give back to all peoples and to my community. When I think about my life and my struggles, I know that some type of tutor would have been so helpful for me. I know that my education has helped improve both myself as a person and my quality of life, and I am happy for the opportunity to assist others with their learning and education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio - Bachelors, Psychology, Business Minor
University of Central Florida - Masters, Clinical Psychology
What is your teaching philosophy?
Teaching, to me, is a two-way street. As with every human relationship, both parties learn and grow from one another. I act as a navigator or guide when I am instructing. I give options and methods from which the student can for pick that which best suits him or her. We adjust as needed, with the student learning facts and skills, and I learning how best to convey information. Generally, I like to explain things in several ways and try to use simple analogies and real life examples. I also like practical application scenarios (i.e. practice test or exams) and open-ended questions (i.e. 'How do these two numbers relate to one another?') as they provide the closest thing to real-life experience as possible. I try to be as efficient as possible, conveying the most amount of information in the shortest and simplest way possible.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I prefer to hit the ground running when teaching. I divide a first session into three phases. First, we would spend 15 to 20 minutes getting to know one another. In the middle section, I would ask questions about the difficulties or issues the student is currently facing while simultaneous explaining my experience so that we may both come to a better understanding. Lastly, I would want to do 15 to 20 minutes of sample work in order to get some hand-on experience. I end with a summary of our progress, and may also assign a few bits of work for between sessions.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
In my mind, two things most effectively improve learning. First is critical thinking. Here, using reasoning, questions, prediction skills, and hands-on testing (i.e. scientific or reasoning methods) is key to learning. This process improves general processing and learning skills. Second, is a combination of confidence and interest. The more experience, skills, and hand-on practice a student have, the more intrigued they are about forms of learning, the more confident they become in themselves. This is possible through knowledge and chunking, as the more a student is generally able to understand, the more they can assimilate, process, and understand. Hence; by using critical thinking, questioning, logic, confidence, and experience; a student becomes more interested and independent in learning.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I use reflection, encouragement, and recalling past success to keep students motivated. For example, I would reflect a student’s troubles and worry about success so that they can better understand these feelings. Following this, I would encourage the student by highlighting their strengths. Lastly, I would ask the student to relate their past successes and increased skills in order to motivate the student to continue learning.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I approach all problems from multiple angles. If a student is having trouble understanding a concept or question, I first ask the student to thoroughly explain what is causing the difficulty, using questions to help me when necessary. Next, I try to simplify all the variables involved by explaining, using analogies, and relating these concepts to past knowledge. I then ask the student to paraphrase and explain the concepts or variables in order to help them grasp what is happening. Finally, we would re-address the question, skill, or concept together with repetition as necessary to ensure competence and mastery.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading can be learned thorough increasing both comprehension and vocabulary skills. First I would encourage and tutor the student the student to use phonetics and prefix, base, and suffix structures (structural analysis). We would use these skills to gradually increase the student vocabulary through breaking down words and eventually sentences to their definitions. If needed, I would also cover English skills such as sentence structure and diagramming sentences.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Generally, I prefer open-ended questions. "What, Who, When, Where, and How" help the student express themselves while giving me vital information about the student. Hopefully, this would let us move onto some practical application scenarios or sample test/quiz questions so that we can target areas to improve.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Generally, people are motivate by success, reinforcement, and encouragement. I prefer to highlight successes, increase motivation through positive reinforcement, and continually encourage those that are experiencing difficulty. I would also work to cultivate interest in the subject through questioning about what specifically the student find enjoyable in the subject and try to relate other areas to what they enjoy.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I prefer questions, both open-ended and specific (i.e. "How does this number relate to the other number?" or "Out of A, B, or C, which is correct?") I also like to have student teach me the subject for a bit, as this help the student gain knowledge and allows me to ask questions and make corrections as needed.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I help students gain confidence through mastery of a subject or specific skills. I try to use questions, use analogies, relate to real life, and then have the student explain the information back to me. Additionally, if a student is comfortable trying to teach me, this can be very helpful in building both confidence and mastery. I find this helpful as the student needs to use several types of reasoning and thinking skills to teach, and it allows me to ask questions and make corrections as necessary.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
First, I ask the student to explain their needs and what they want to learn. Following this, I explain my competences and what I can offer. After, I prefer to use real-life and practical application through sample questions, problems, quizzes, and tests to highlight areas of focus. This process is done at the end of the session, at least once every two sessions.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I let the student guide the session as much as possible. I adapt to what the student expresses they need. Additionally, I use frequent discussions of progress and sample questions/quizzes to assess both progress and needs. Once it is clear that I need to adapt, I do so by allowing the student to make recommendations to correct any problems or difficulties that are present.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I use source material and take notes. I prefer to use prepare several relevant sample questions. I also prefer to use both the students’ textbook as well as sample texts I may find from my personal books or online. I also frequently reference notes from previous sessions to help provide continuity. For reference and to increase learning, I would encourage, but not require, a student to take notes as well.