I am a passionate and professional teacher, and am committed to providing the best quality of instruction tailored for each student. I have a lifelong passion for learning, with two Bachelors degrees and an addiction to autodidacticism. There is little more useful and more life-changing than knowledge, and I believe that education is the primary vector by which a person can improve themselves, and in so doing, their world. While improving grades and scores is important, I am also a firm believer in the necessity of true learning and understanding: not in the memorize-then-forget method commonly found in school systems today, but in a fundamental understanding of concepts and their underlying elements in order to provide a useful skill-set that can be applied beyond one test or class.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of California-Santa Cruz - Bachelors, History of Art and Visual Culture, Economics
Reading, writing, cycling,
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I am a firm believer in the value of learning not what to think, but how and why. True understanding of fundamental concepts and the mechanisms by which they operate are the key to learning, and lay the foundation upon which students can begin to improve. I emphasize critical thinking and the application of knowledge through deductive reasoning to cultivate an algorithmic approach to problem solving, and give students the tools necessary to thrive on their own.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
The most important part of a first session is learning a student's strengths and weaknesses, their motivations, and the styles and methods in which they can most effectively and efficiently learn. Learning more about them as a person, and about the teaching styles of their teachers, is also recommended, as it can give key insight into what may be hindering their educational progress.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
The key to becoming an independent learner is twofold: the first and most important is a desire to learn. One cannot teach those who do not wish to be taught. If a student is willing to learn, then equipping them with the right tools and the right approach to learning is the most important step in encouraging their individual growth as a student.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Keeping material refreshing and engaging is critical to maintaining motivation. There are only so many math problems, or vocabulary tests, or flash cards one can do before they lose focus. Setting goals and keeping methods and schedules flexible is what I have found to be most effective. Presentation and enthusiasm are likewise key: if a teacher seems bored, you can bet the student will be too.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
While there is value to be found in simple drilling, often when a skill or concept isn't sinking in it is best to break it down into its simplest parts. Sometimes all it takes is a new way of explaining, an analogy using terms more familiar or more interesting than the previous attempts can be of great help in these matters. If a number of different attempts have all failed, it is perhaps best to switch gears and come back later, to avoid fatigue and disengagement.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
The single most important thing a student can do to improve reading comprehension is to read, plain and simple. There is a ludicrous amount of material out there to choose from, and there must be something that will draw a student's interests. Reading anything, anything at all, will have swift returns on investment of time. As reading comprehension grows, more difficult materials are accessible, further improving comprehension. Reading is an exercise for you mind, just like running or weight lifting: the more you use it, the stronger it will be.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
The first and most important "strategy" is to let your enthusiasm show. Make it fun! Even something that is apparently dull or dry can be made interesting if the wider applications are explained. Finding the ways in which a student learns best is also highly effective: if a student isn't a visual learner, no amount of graphs and diagrams will help them. Find what works, and then run with it.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Show them why that subject is exciting! Math is commonly thought to be boring and useless, but it literally permeates our lives to an astounding degree. Make it relevant, show them how important it is, and explain how powerful a tool that subject can be. Every new thing a student learns makes them that much more well-rounded, that much more effective at understanding a greater amount of the world in which we live.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
While simple assessments are certainly valuable, the best method for ascertaining understanding is to ask the student about it. Have them explain to you, in their own words, the material. If they can teach you about it, then they have a firm understanding.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Giving a student an algorithmic approach to problem solving with clear steps that flow from one to the next is an invaluable tool which they can fall back on. Use easily understood examples to demonstrate the steps, working your way up to the harder problems. When a student gets stuck, have them explain what the trouble is: the fastest way to lose a student is to get frustrated with them. Everyone makes mistakes, even the teachers. The goal is to minimize the number of mistakes a student makes.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
A quick method is simply examining their scores, but this can lead to false impressions. A better way is to study the way in which a student approaches problems: their process, and any gaps therein, will have a great deal to say about their needs.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
This mostly depends on a given student: some students learn best with different methods, so it is best to utilize these when possible. Understanding when a student is subject-fatigued is also important: this is inevitable, and when it happens it is better to transition to a different area within a subject, or a new subject entirely, in order to maximize time effectiveness.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Obviously of the utmost importance is the material with which a student is provided: the work assigned by the teacher should in some way reflect the teacher's emphasis, which will hold the key to what they will test on. However, often times outside work is necessary as well. There is a wealth of useful resources online, from worksheets to concept explanations. Often what is best is what is simple: talk to the student about a topic, see what they think and how they think, and you will be much more effective in how you can help them.