I have a great love of puzzles. They can come in many forms. There are basic puzzles, such as crosswords or sudoku, and more complex ones. To me, all learning is like solving a puzzle. Unpacking each word in a Yeats poem is like gathering jigsaw pieces, and constructing a thesis for an essay is like putting them together. Algebra and Geometry are subjects that naturally lend themselves to puzzling. Each equation has a solution. I enjoyed learning these subjects, and I love sharing that with new people.
When I am a student, the subject matter is the puzzle. When I am a teacher, my student becomes the riddle. There is a barrier between the student and the material, and it is my role to identify this and look for solutions. What works for one student may not work for another, and I feel that there is always more than one way to approach a solution. I believe that tutoring is the most beneficial form of teaching, because it is as much about the learning style of the client as it is about the subject matter. Personalized approaches and self-motivated learning are essential ingredients for academic success.
Undergraduate Degree: University of Rochester - Bachelors, English
comic books, theatre, and spending time with my beagles!
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that there is always more than one way to approach a problem. What works for one student may not work for another, so it is important for a teacher to have an open mind that can visualize from many angles.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I will always begin by getting to know the student. "What are your hobbies and interests? What subjects are fun? What subjects are difficult? Who is your favorite teacher? Why?” These questions give me the information I need to be an effective communicator with the new student. Once a clear level of communication and relation has been established, then new learning can begin.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Being an independent learner requires self-motivation. A great way to help with that is to create a link between learning and real-life goals. If a student wants something and studying helps them get it, it becomes a positive and rewarding experience.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Setting a goal is a great start to achieving anything. It can become overwhelming, however, when looking at the whole picture. Every journey is faced with setbacks and distractions, so having small goals along the way help keep students motivated. Taking things one step at a time, whether it’s one problem or a whole problem set, makes everything seem easier.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would look at any materials the student has read or completed on the topic to get an understanding of how the subject was previously presented. I would then use the same approach to try to reinforce the work they have already done. If the student does not respond to this, I would try a fresh angle of approach to the topic. Repetition also helps solidify concepts, so sometimes doing the same type of problem a few times in a row can stimulate new connections.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
If a student is having trouble with reading comprehension, I would have them identify any specific words they did not know in the passage. We could then look them up and discuss their meanings. After that we would take it one sentence at a time and put it into our own words. Once we have paraphrased the passage, we can read that back and compare it to the original.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I think it is important to get to know your student before jumping into the subject matter. Every person is wired differently and it is important as a tutor to learn about each student individually. Because of this, I do not think any one strategy is better than another for everyone. I am most successful as a teacher when I listen to my students.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Everyone is different, but we all have passions. Finding out each individual passion and harnessing that energy for learning is a great motivator.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
It is important during a tutoring session to let the student work alone for a portion. I like to do this near the end, after we have discussed and reviewed the topic. If the student can complete the task unassisted, then they have really grasped the concept. If they still need help, we can go over the answers together and assign practice homework for next time.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Confidence comes from taking pride in your work. It comes from achieving something you didn't think you could. Praising students for correct work is good, but it is more important to be supportive when the work seems difficult. Starting with basic topics in a hard subject can show the student that they already know parts of it and are going to build on what they have already achieved.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I ask the student and the parent (if applicable) what they think is needed but missing. I also observe the student's work habits and learning style to see things from a third party perspective and make suggestions.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I base that off of each student individually. Some people prefer paper and pencil, and some kids pay more attention to working on a tablet. I prefer algebraic equations to graphs, but you might not. There is always another way to view a problem, and I like to keep an open mind to find the best solution for each student.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
It depends on the subject, but I am a fan of physical objects. In an increasingly digital world, our brains long for something tangible. Call me old fashioned, but I prefer books, paper, pencil, and face-to-face interaction. I am available for online tutoring sessions, but I much prefer to work in-person.