My name is Alena and I am a graduate student studying clinical psychology at Palo Alto University. I was born and raised on a farm in Barbados before moving to the inner city of Brooklyn, New York when I was ten years old. This upbringing in addition to various positions as a tutor, mentor, resident assistant, coach, and guest lecturer have all influenced my passion for teaching and helping others. I believe this background provides me with many qualities and skills that make me a great tutor. I am patient, kind, motivational, passionate about teaching and learning, work well under pressure, have experience working with a wide variety of children and adolescents in both Spanish and English, and have served as a mentor and tutor to students for years.
I believe that when you tutor someone there is something magical and rewarding that occurs when a concept that was once daunting, scary, and incomprehensible finally makes sense. Many of the kids I have worked with were struggling or turned off by the work in front of them prior to working through it with me. I take my time so that I can understand what the problem is and build on my students strengths whenever I can. I tutor because it makes me happy and it lifts the spirits of the individuals I am working with through helping them master concepts that do not come easy to them.
Overtime I have had the opportunity to work with students from many different backgrounds with a range of challenges. Most recently, I was serving as a school counselor at an alternative high school working with students with learning disabilities, complex trauma backgrounds, and first generation families with parents who only spoke Spanish. Sometimes my students would ask for input on their studies and I would help them. Working in that setting helping my students psychologically and academically reignited my fire for wanting to get involved in a teaching role once more.
While I am not seeking out a complete career change, I would love to have an opportunity to be assist where needed as your tutor. I have a passion for teaching, I adapt easily to changing situations, and I understand that everyone has their own learning styles and needs. It would be a pleasure to work with you as a tutor helping you to master one challenge at a time.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Stanford University - Bachelors, Psychology
Graduate Degree: Palo Alto University - Masters, Clinical Psychology
Hiking, biking, yoga, cooking, traveling, dancing, reading
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe all individuals have the capacity to learn, and that when given the tools, time, and support, many academic difficulties can be overcome.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In a typical first session with a student I might introduce myself to them, have them introduce themselves to me, discuss how I can help them and what they expect of me, take some time to begin working with them on the things they would like my help in, and make a general plan for how to continue working with them moving forward. I would end the session asking about how it went and ask for their input on things they would like more or less of so as to incorporate that into our next session.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I like to encourage my students to learn through doing and working through problems with my support which in turn helps them to become independent learners. I will never do my student's work for them because I believe that that is not helping them, but is instead cheating them of a learning opportunity. I will point out and reinforce useful patterns I notice them engaging in. I will also help them understand and modify patterns that they engage in that are not as useful for them in a way that is supportive and uplifting. I know that my student is improving when they are able to work and learn independently - this is my personal goal for all my students.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I like to work through scaffolding from a strengths-based approach. I keep my students motivated by helping them start with small goals, gain success, and work up towards larger goals/concepts. I find this approach allows them to try more, push through more challenging problems, and trust in their abilities, thus keeping them motivated.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would take a step back and take time to understand what they do know about the concept or skill, what about the skill is confusing or difficult to them, and build up with them from there. If needed, I might move away from that concept work on something less triggering for them at that time and come back to it later when they are in a better space to approach the concept. I have found that sometimes taking a break and focusing on something more manageable helps to improve the understanding of the more difficult skill or concept.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
In general, I slow down, chunk the information, and go sentence by sentence giving them tips to help with understanding and remembering what they are reading and how they are interpreting the information in front of them. Everyone is different, so how I help will change significantly based on the challenge the child I am working with is experiencing.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Being patient, checking for understanding, asking for feedback/input and modifying my style based on their learning preferences have all helped me be successful when initiating work with a new student.