A photo of Doreen, a tutor from Montclair State University

Doreen

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The students I teach have had a varied experience with the writing process: some have had very positive experiences over the years and come to me with strong skills; others have not met with much success in the past as far as their writing goes, so they exhibit a lack of confidence. No matter where on that scale they may be when they arrive in my session, my goal for all of them is to help them become better writers and communicators than they were when they first came to me. I believe that all students are capable of producing well-organized, clear, insightful writing--it is just a matter of recognizing and honing each student’s particular strengths.

Doreen’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Montclair State University - Bachelors, English

Graduate Degree: Rutgers University-Newark - Masters, English

Hobbies

standard poodles, renaissance and medieval faires, yoga


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

Tutoring Philosophy Without exception and regardless of their major, I believe each student I work with is a writer in progress. My job, therefore, is to help them become more confident in this role by helping them to understand that writing is a process to be done in stages. Whether they come to us at the very earliest stages of the writing process and ask for assistance with brainstorming, or whether they’ve come at the very end of the process for help with final edits (or anywhere in between), I want each student I work with to feel their time collaborating with me has been productive, helpful, and an overall positive experience. As soon as I am introduced to the student with whom I will work, I immediately attempt to establish a good rapport by welcoming them to our platform, making virtual eye contact and smiling enthusiastically. I then ask the student how they are feeling and whether they have had a good day so far. This little exchange often sets the tone for the entire session by showing the student I enjoy my job, and I am open to conversation and collaboration, thus creating a friendly environment in which to work. When they are made to feel at ease with their reasons for coming to Varsity Tutors and with me specifically, the creative juices begin to flow and I believe true progress can begin. Right from the beginning of the session, I feel it is important to emphasize that I am not simply going to correct their punctuation or their grammatical or syntactical errors; rather, I want to help them identify patterns in their writing that may disrupt the fluency or the clarity of their points. It is essential they understand they are always firmly planted in the “driver’s seat” during the session as to how we will use the time we have. What, exactly, do they need assistance with? How can I help them? By asking many open-ended questions that initiate conversation and allow the writer to clarify his/her purpose for writing, I believe the student is better able to think about the bigger picture, such as where the paper needs further development or elaboration. Just as each student is unique, so too is every tutorial session. Some of the issues I hope to address in these tutorials include helping them to understand the prompt or assignment given to them by their instructor, clarifying their thesis statement, developing their topic sentences and body paragraphs, assisting their efforts to write a unifying conclusion, identifying syntactical and punctuation errors, ensuring their method of development matches their content, evaluating their support and, when applicable, the strength of the outside sources used in the preparation of their essay. Lastly, I want to be sure that if a student comes to me to double-check their citations have been prepared properly, I give them the best advice I can on whether they have followed the formatting guidelines associated with their subject matter. This type of intellectual collaboration ensures our time together is well spent.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

I would first ask to see the instructor's assignment. If a prompt is involved, I would ask the student to deconstruct it to ensure the student knows exactly what is expected in the response. If it is an open-ended question/topic, then I would ask to see the thesis statement and/or spend time brainstorming to create one.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

By identifying patterns of errors in their writing and helping students understand what they are doing wrong, they will be better equipped to avoid such errors on future writing assignments.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

I would encourage students to avoid procrastinating by chunking the assignment into digestible parts and creating a schedule for working on the various parts so the entire assignment does not overwhelm them all at once.

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

I would provide many examples in a variety of contexts until the student felt he or she was comfortable with the skill or concept.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

I remind students that they should frequently pause during their reading and ask themselves whether they understood what they just read and whether then can summarize it in their own words. If this is not easily done, then I ask them to go back and underline or highlight key words and/or make notes in the margins to help them better understand the material.