I have been teaching biology and life sciences at Reynolds Community College for the past 6 years. Prior to this, I worked in R&D in the pharmaceutical industry for 35 years. Through this experience, I have kept up-to-date in the scientific fields of my Ph.D. dissertation, Biology (Microbiology) and Biochemistry. I enjoy working with students and realize that not all students learn in the same way. So, my first task as a teacher is to make the material that I am teaching relevant and interesting to the student. This needs to be established on a continuing basis, but when successful, the student comprehends the material much better.
What is your teaching philosophy?
Teachers must engage their students and make their subject matter important/interesting/and applicable to them. Once accomplished, the student will be more receptive to learning.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
The goal of the first session is to get to know the student, find out what interests them and begin to identify how they learn best. Then, the teacher should outline what material they are going to cover together and what expectations are for both the teacher and the student.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
The teacher must first identify how the student learns best, then the teacher needs to provide materials that the student needs for this learning. Some students learn best through reading, online, videos, presentations, etc.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Motivation always comes best from reward. This can be as simple as a verbal compliment for their progress or a written note. Never criticize and never preach. Also, to maintain focus, provide frequent breaks and times for refreshment.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Some concepts are not easily grasped. If the first approach does not work, use a different one; switch from presentation to an online resource perhaps. If the student is just not comprehending the material, drop it for a time and come back to it.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
If students are having a hard time with reading comprehension, I first provide them with online resources that they can view and review. I also use online practice tests that they can use to reinforce what they have learned.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I like to start with students by first determining what their interest in the subject is and what they are have problems with. Do the need help with test preparation or do they have trouble with understanding concepts as examples? With this information, we can plan out a course of study.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
My first approach to getting students engaged with a subject is by showing how it relates or directly effects them. For example, lead in drinking water is in the news lately, as is the Zika virus. These are great topics to build a link to the field of biology.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I like to use an interactive approach to teaching. Engage the student and get them talking as you go through the material. Never criticize and always encourage.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Confidence is best built through motivation and reward. Always make sure to acknowledge a student’s correct answers to questions and praise them for their insights. I also like to use practice tests to show the students that they are succeeding.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I start off by listening to the student to understand their issues and goals. Then, if they are willing, I request to see a syllabus for the course they are taking and completed tests. It is also helpful to see the textbook or source material they are using.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
The level/complexity of the material to be covered needs to be adjusted to the student's own course level and objectives. For example, is the student a science major in college or a middle school student in their first biology class? I also then determine how the student learns best. Are videos and podcasts helpful? Do they learn best by reading, etc.?
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Textbooks, videos, podcasts, practice tests, textbooks, are all included with the materials I like to use with students. I do have some published charts and graphs I use when appropriate. "Kitchen" labs also help if conditions permit.