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Jessica

I am magna cum laude graduate of the University of Vermont’s Honors College, where I received my Bachelor of Art in English, French, and Psychology. These fields of study all encouraged my development as a creative and critical thinker, a writer, a collaborative worker, a skilled-information processor, and a person passionate about her subjects. Although I have always nurtured a love of books, writing essays and analyzing literature in school used to terrify me! I often felt unsure of how to formulate and present my ideas and responses to a given text. It wasn’t until I learned to connect the texts to my own personal experiences and to write skillfully and with confidence that I grew to appreciate the study of literature and the art of writing in college. As such, my undergraduate concentration in creative writing allowed me to work in small, intimate writing workshops in which I developed my own writing skills as well as helped to support others through peer-editing and group discussions. Upon graduating, I worked as a freelance editor for an emeritus professor and writer of a historical fiction manuscript, an experience that allowed me to work one-on-one with a first-time writer of a novel. Most recently, my internship as an Education & Outreach specialist at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley allowed me to work with a diverse group of students of all ages to teach them about the non-profit group’s mission and how to support it using creative ideas and methods.

As an individual with over seven years of customer service experience, I am capable of demonstrating a positive attitude while using an organized approach to successfully achieve goals. Working in a bank setting for four years showed me just how important it is to demonstrate effective communication skills--not only in an academic setting, but also in any field of work. My strong work ethic ensures that as a tutor, I can easily examine and articulate complex topics and ideas while helping to support the academic growth and success of the student and learner. In my spare time, I also enjoy being outdoors, film, trying out new recipes in the kitchen, and traveling—I’ve spent an extensive amount of time in both France and India! I continue to nurture a great love for reading and writing and hope to pass on this love for the written word to others.

Undergraduate Degree:

University of Vermont - Bachelors, English, French, Psychology

Writing, Reading, Outdoors, Cooking, Travel

College English

Comparative Literature

High School English

What is your teaching philosophy?

I believe that a student gains confidence through recognition of both his or her weaknesses and strengths. Every student encounters struggles at some point during his or her academic path; it is how the student chooses to handle these obstacles that will ultimately define the student's success as a learner, creative and critical thinker, and knowledgeable person. By recognizing a student's inherent strengths, a tutor can help the student to gain the confidence needed to understand and work with an area of weakness, thereby creating new opportunities for achievement.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

In a typical first session with a student, I would first ask the student to verbalize and write down his or her short-term and long-term goals for our sessions. I would use questions such as: What do you hope to achieve today? What do you hope to achieve over the course of our time working together? What steps will you take to achieve these goals? What do you think your areas of strength are? What do you think your areas of weakness are and how do you hope to improve them? By asking questions during the first session, we would better be able to determine our goals and define the necessary steps to achieve them.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Helping a student to become an independent learner involves teaching and implementing the necessary skillset in order to bring this to fruition. A tutor can easily point out a correct answer to a student, but without explaining why it is the correct answer and showing the student how he or she can arrive at the answer, the student will never be able to do this independently. The question of "how," therefore, is just as important as the "why" in terms of teaching the skills and methods needed in order for the student to become a critical and creative thinker, a skilled information-processor, and an independent learner.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

To help a student stay motivated, I would present him or her with the goals he or she created during the first session. By seeing and revisiting his or her personal goals, a student may recognize why putting in the effort is so important in order to achieve those goals. I would also remind the student that while a particular subject may initially seem too daunting to comprehend, a breakdown of its parts will help to simplify the subject and encourage the realization of both short-term and long-term goals.

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, I would try using different teaching approaches until one or more resonate with the student. As a tutor, I would always keep in mind that there is not just one "correct" way to teach, and that sometimes, implementing different teaching approaches might help the student to grasp a new concept by seeing all angles of the equation. For example, if a student is primarily a visual learner, I would make sure to use more visuals in order to demonstrate a new concept. I would also make sure to ask the student many questions in order to determine what areas do not make sense or seem unclear.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

In order to help a student struggling with reading comprehension, I would first make sure to ask a lot of questions. The student's responses would help me to determine with what areas, specifically, the student is struggling. Asking questions helps to pinpoint the specifics of a student's struggle, as well as to see patterns in the student's understanding of a written work. Upon determining which areas need support (grammar, tone, point of view, etc.), I would try to help the student break down and simplify the written work, going sentence by sentence until the writing became more clear. Making inferences and summaries also helps to generate an understanding of a text, and working together to re-read aloud unclear passages helps to develop comprehension skills. My approach would be to work slowly through a text until the student could understand and respond clearly to it with the confidence of comprehension.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

I believe that having patience and effective communication and listening skills would be the most effective qualities to have when starting to work with a student. The tutor's job is to teach, but also to really listen to his or her student in order to determine areas of strength and weakness, specific learning styles, and the best teaching approach. Patience is sometimes required to do this, and often helps to build a relationship based on a foundation of trust. If a tutor is able to really listen to the student and effectively communicate with him or her, it allows the student to feel more engaged in the learning process. Asking lots of questions to the student and frequently checking in on his or her progress helps to promote a positive environment in which a student can thrive and work towards achieving his or her short and long-term goals.

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

In order to help a student get excited about a subject with which he or she struggles, I would, as the tutor, demonstrate much excitement and passion for the subject. Excitement is often infectious, and a student is more likely to be engaged if he or she sees someone showing a genuine enthusiasm for the subject. I would also ask the student to revisit his or her goals for our sessions and would ask questions to the student to determine motivation and confidence. The questions could include: What would make this a better learning experience for you? In what ways could this possibly be an exciting subject? What would help you to feel better about this subject? Finding motivation for a subject that causes struggle can be a difficult task, but having empathy as a tutor and emphasizing that all students and teachers occasionally encounter difficult subjects can help to provide support and foster motivation. As a tutor, I would make sure to show my student how and why a subject, with a new perspective, patience, and some understanding, can be both exciting and engaging.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

To ensure that a student understands the material, I would ask the student a lot of questions to assess comprehension before finally asking the student to teach me (the tutor) the concepts. Actually teaching the material helps to review, reinforce new ideas, and ensure that one truly understands the material. Additionally, teaching can help to boost one's confidence while learning new material. It is also helpful to ask the student to rate his or her own understanding of the material and to provide summaries and reflections of the material to gauge comprehension level.

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

To build a student's confidence in a subject, it is important to recognize areas of strength, in addition to areas of weakness. Highlighting areas in which a student excels helps to demonstrate a student's existing knowledge and skillset--something that can help translate into acquiring a better grasp and understanding of new material. Encouragement can be very useful in building confidence and creating motivation. If a tutor genuinely believes in the capabilities and potential of the student, the student can more readily approach new material and turn struggles into opportunities for learning.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

Assessments and self-evaluations help to evaluate a student's needs. Oftentimes, a student is already aware of his or her needs when learning new material; a self-evaluation can help the student to define the exact areas in which to improve and can ultimately help to create goals for achievement. Other assessments from the tutor that can provide further evaluation include short quizzes, simple questions, summaries, and reflections. These can help to pinpoint specific areas in which to focus.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

In order to adapt my tutoring to a student's needs, I would look to see how the student responds to different techniques and approaches. For example, if a student responds positively to more visual cues as opposed to auditory, I would make sure to use more visuals while teaching a concept. I would also make sure to respond to the student's interests and use these to help in teaching new material--this can help to reinforce new material in a way that resonates with the student. Ultimately, I would look to the student and his or her learning style in order to best adapt my teaching style.

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

During a tutoring session, I would typically use the materials provided by the student (i.e., textbooks, homework, etc.), as well as any materials that could help support the needs of the student while learning new material. For example, I would make sure to use worksheets and short quizzes to help evaluate comprehension as well as flashcards and specific subject books and magazine articles to use as references. As a tutor, I would use any materials that I felt could help support and create an environment in which the student could comfortably learn new concepts.