I am a life-long learner. I have always felt that there should never be a day that isn't spent learning something new. I have a passion for a number of subjects, and I enjoy sharing that passion with others. I believe that learning is a personal experience that requires discipline to achieve at its highest levels. To that end I espouse a structured approach that builds into habits. Once something becomes a habit, built into your day, it is much more difficult to avoid doing it. Habits are the small steps that lead to success.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Texas Woman's University - Bachelors, Biology, General
GRE Quantitative: 161
GRE Verbal: 164
Music, Mathematics, Programming, Cooking, Physics, Astronomy, Philosophy, and Running
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that learning is innately a personal process. Students cannot be made to learn, and they cannot be made to love a subject. I feel that the role of a teacher is to show the student the beauty of a subject. To share their passion with the student, so that the student will have their own fire. Once the student has that fire they cannot help but to learn. The teacher can then support the student through the difficulties that arise.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
First sessions should be getting to know the student, both personally and academically. From how they use their free time, to where they feel their weaknesses are. Knowing these things can help me to tailor later sessions to their tastes; keep things interesting for them.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Becoming an independent learner is at the core of my teaching philosophy. I find that this is where most students have trouble, as learning on your own requires a fair portion of both drive and discipline. Drive can be found through passion, but discipline requires some steps. Learning HOW you learn is one of the largest. Keeping up with studies is much easier if you're confident that you are being efficient and effective with them. Therefore, to help a student become independent, I aim to help them become efficient.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I've always been fond of the phrase, "Motivation is fleeting." The idea that one will always be motivated is one I have personally found dangerous. Discipline and habit form the basis of continuing when you feel you've lost motivation. While motivation is tied to passion, even both are weak without discipline and habit.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Difficulty with a skill is normally the result of too little practice with the building blocks of the skill. Difficulty with a concept indicates a weak or incorrect understanding of a preceding/necessary concept. The best way to address both is to look at the student’s history with the subject and try to identify the weakness and address it directly. Alternately, finding ways to approach the concept/skill from a different direction can help quickly rectify small missteps.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
If a student is truly struggling, it can be diagnostic of dyslexia. I would urge the student or their parents to consider being tested for it. If they have and it isn't the cause of the trouble, then I might attempt to address how they read. For instance, by asking the student to read out loud, or by watching their eye movements as they read a specific passage. That way we could work on their habits e.g. skipping over passages/sentences.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Showing interest in the subject is always a good route. I am passionate about learning the things that I tutor, and I find that true passion for the subject inspires students.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I have found, more often than not, that students who have trouble connecting with a subject are not familiar with its history. This has been the case for me, and time and again I've seen it in students. History is a much more human connection to the subject. It also helps a student make sense of difficult concepts by relating them to how they were actually figured out.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Creation. If a student is capable of creating something related to the subject, be it a test question, or a model, or even a function, if they can then answer/describe it, then I know they understand.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Giving students the answers is the fastest way to destroy confidence. Once the student is outside your presence, they realize that they cannot answer a question they have. This leads to a breakdown in confidence. To build confidence, I help students answer their own questions. The more they answer, the more they know. They also grow confident that they can FIND the answers, even if I'm not there.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Students can often tell you their needs. However, the role of a tutor is to know what they don't. Evaluating the precise needs of a student depends wholly on the situation. I usually choose to watch how a student approaches a problem they find difficult and identify problems there. I also find it helpful to ask about their study habits, as well as other interests.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I find that students respond best to learning things from a "direction" that they already understand. Explaining things in terms of something they already understand can mean the difference between understanding, and regurgitation.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Depending on the session, everything from hand-drawn aides, to manipulatives, and my personal favorite, a whiteboard. I also have a fondness for certain online programs.