All humans are born with a love of learning, but sometimes we run into challenges that can make it hard to keep that torch lit for academic learning. As someone who struggled through most of my primary and secondary education, then excelled later in high school and graduated from university with high honors, I am inspired by the thought of helping students reach their goals and rediscover their own love of learning.
Living and learning with ADHD, I've also discovered that different students need different strategies and that every student comes to the table with unique strengths -- and the best part of tutoring, for me, is helping students discover their own strengths and strategies. I especially enjoy working with students who are exploring the life sciences and the elements of algebra -- subjects that can spark passionate interests and open new doors.
It's also important to explore one's passions beyond the academic realm. As such, when I'm not reading, writing, or researching, you'll usually find me in the dance studio, where I'm focused on improving technical mastery and artistic expression in ballet and modern dance, or the circus-arts studio, where I'm honing my technique on dance trapeze, lyra, and silks.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Indiana University Southeast - Bachelors, Psychology (Bachelor of Science)
ballet (classical and contemporary), modern dance, choreography, theater, music (composition and performance), modern dance, choreography, cirque arts, neurology, psychology
Anatomy & Physiology
High School Biology
High School English
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe in harnessing students' strengths and interests -- for musicians, songs can help with math; for future engineers, analyzing language from a systems-oriented point of view can help to clarify the mysteries of grammar. Discovering the real-world applications of new material and even playing learning games are also great, and they help to keep boredom at bay!
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
While assessing skills is important, assessing interests is just as important, because interests can be harnessed for skill building. As such, I would lead by asking about academic strengths, weaknesses, and interests, but also about extracurricular interests like music, the arts, sports, and so forth. I would also try to get a sense of current homework habits and whether the student experiences difficulties with elements of learning such as organization and time-management, so that any such issues can be addressed going forward.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Becoming an independent learner is more important than it has ever been, but with proliferating web resources and tools like mobile apps, it's also more accessible than ever. For many students, one of the greatest challenges is learning how to assess the reliability of resources. In addition to helping students learn to find sources of information, I hope to help them learn to use a critical-thinking approach to determine how reliable a given source of information is. Students can learn to ask critical-thinking questions like, "Who created this resource? What are her goals? Is she trying to sell me anything? Where did she get her information? What are her credentials?" in order to determine how reliable a given resource is and, accordingly, whether they should treat it as authoritative, questionable, or even spurious. In addition, I'm familiar with a number of techniques for reading, analysis, and note taking that students can learn and use throughout their lives -- methods such as paragraph-by-paragraph summarizing and the Cornell note-taking method. Perhaps most important (and most challenging, in some cases!), though, is helping students discover how to enjoy learning -- to see it as an end in itself, rather than just a means to a desired grade on a test or something to do because someone tells you to.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Incremental goals are incredibly important in maintaining motivation -- and doubly so when a student is struggling. Breaking difficult material down into smaller pieces, then finding whatever means (graphics, songs, rhymes, mnemonics, or even YouTube Videos!) it takes to help students succeed in mastering each piece can go a long way towards keeping motivation high. A little genuine praise can also make a huge difference -- everyone likes to know that you appreciate their effort. Likewise, whenever possible, it's important to end on a positive note -- even if it means briefly revisiting material that's already been mastered. It's also important to realize when a brief break is in order -- just a minute or two to shift gears, rest the mind, or get up and stretch before moving on. However, fun learning games and physical learning activities can often be incorporated into breaks to add value to the process.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Difficulties with reading comprehension can be complex, so it's a good idea to try to find out where things are breaking down. For some students, it might be as simple as being over-faced in terms of vocabulary, in which case encouraging the use of at-hand tools -- such as a dictionary app on a mobile phone or a built-in dictionary in an e-reader -- can make a big difference. For others, especially those with attention challenges, it can help to use a more in-depth strategy -- asking students to employ a piece of paper or similar visual aid to help them keep their place on the page, write down an initial idea about what the author might be trying to say based on a title or blurb, break long paragraphs down into smaller units, and paraphrase sentences and/or summarize paragraphs on the fly, for example, might all come into play. Sticky notes can also be really helpful in this situation. They allow students to take notes or write brief paragraph summaries without looking away from the page, or to flag paragraphs that continue to challenge them.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I find it very helpful to sit down with a student and find out about his or her learning style and extracurricular interests. Often, extracurricular interests can become teaching tools, so it's important not to overlook them.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
The first thing I would try would be breaking the lessons down into smaller units. Sometimes, all it takes is a little success. Then, I'd link it to one of the student's personal passions -- baking, for example, makes a great door into mathematics (especially fractions, but even algebra!), chemistry, and physics.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
A three-fold approach has worked well for me in the past: 1)*Talk* about concepts, asking open-ended questions ("What do you think bothered the American colonists most about being governed by the English?") and offering appropriate guidance ("What step do you think you could try next?"). 2)*Embed* practice problems and questions, both written and oral, into lessons and conversations. 3) Briefly *quiz* each student at the beginning and end of each lesson to assess knowledge and progress.