A photo of Samantha, a tutor from Bryn Mawr College

Samantha

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I graduated from Bryn Mawr College, where I majored in Biology and concentrated in Public Health. I recently completed the 2015 MCAT and will be applying to medical school this spring. While in college, I interned at a maternity hospital in India, assisted in the development of community health programs in Philadelphia and taught English as a Second Language (ESL) to adult immigrants and students abroad. I also mentored middle school and undergraduate students with science and math courses. I am open to tutoring in a broad range of subjects, including Algebra, Spanish I/II, ESL and Biology (SAT II, AP, and MCAT).

My tutoring style is personal and interactive. Learning as a student, I was deeply gratified by the teachers who inspired my interest in science and had the faith to invest in my talents. While teaching my own students, I have enjoyed instilling the same love of learning as well as an attitude to persevere through their own challenges. I acknowledge that every student faces his/her unique obstacles and understand that students learn at varying paces through different strategies. In my tutoring sessions, I go out of my way to get to know students to adapt activities to their learning styles and to help them reach their personal goals. Additionally, I like to make sessions hands-on. Having had an ESL class full of different language speakers, I have become creative at designing a variety of activities and visual aids to communicate concepts from different viewpoints. I have also successfully applied these learning strategies towards tutoring different scientific disciplines and continue to experiment with resourceful ways to make learning a fun, engaging experience.

Samantha’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Bryn Mawr College - Bachelors, Biology, General

Test Scores

SAT Writing: 750

Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior: 130

Hobbies

running half-marathons, going outdoors, watching Korean dramas, piano and photography.

Tutoring Subjects

10th Grade Math

11th Grade Math

12th Grade Math

9th Grade Math

Algebra

Algebra 2

AP Japanese Language and Culture

Biochemistry

Biology

College Algebra

College Biology

College English

College Essays

English

ESL/ELL

Essay Editing

General Biology

General Chemistry

High School Biology

High School Chemistry

High School English

Homework Support

Math

Middle School Math

Other

Piano

Pre-Algebra

SAT Math

SAT Mathematics

SAT Subject Test in Mathematics Level 1

SAT Subject Test in Mathematics Level 2

SAT Subject Tests Prep

Science

Spanish 1

Statistics

Study Skills

Study Skills and Organization

Test Prep

Writing


Q & A

How would you help a student stay motivated?

I encourage students to create new goals and challenges for themselves. If they wrote a short paragraph in Spanish, why not write a letter or blog post next time? If they have mastered all the hormones of the body, why not name them all in 30 seconds or explore their role in the pathology of conditions like diabetes? My objective is to give concepts a twist to keep students engaged and critically thinking. I find that, as the students create their goals, they inherently become motivated to improve upon their weaknesses in order to reach their achievements.

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

I would try to make the subject matter more relatable to the students by tying in their academic & general interests. In school, I, myself, used to dread studying for physics; however, when the teacher found out I was a pre-medical student, she related class concepts to certain medical concepts that I found fascinating such as blood pressure, nearsightedness and X-rays. In my own teaching sessions, I have engaged ESL students struggling with past tense verbs by asking them to describe their favorite moments in high school or to give a play-by-play of a soccer game they saw. I believe that the more students are able to see what they learn in their daily lives, the more they will be excited to apply what they have learned outside the classroom.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

I have frequently heard that the best way to know that you have mastered the material is when you can teach it to someone else. In turn, I like to reverse the roles of tutor and student when testing for understanding: I have the student teach me the concept as I ask simple clarifying questions along the way.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

First, I ask students a series of open-ended questions to understand their viewpoints: What do they feel are their weakest subjects? Why do they find studying for these subjects difficult? How would they best feel supported as we go over them? In addition, I look at past exams and homework assignments when they are available to probe for commonly seen challenges. As we go over problems for the first time, I take into account these obstacles and try to understand the student's learning style. From what I see, I work together with the student to come up with mutual expectations and learning goals so they are active in assessing whether their needs are being met.

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

During a tutoring session, we would usually go over any homework or exam problems the student would like to go over from class first. Outside of this scope, I usually like to utilize hands-on activities including practice worksheets, online games, YouTube videos, TED talks, among others in order to help the student identify interactive resources she/he can use at home. With visual learners, I like to compile visual aids, such as charts and diagrams, they can utilize to conceptualize processes. Of course, Varsity Tutors has an extensive database of study resources for students preparing for standardized exams as well!

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Through reflection exercises, I try to help students understand themselves as learners. Periodically, whether at the end of a session or at the end of a problem set, I have the students verbally identify their learning outcomes – what they were able to learn about the material, what effective learning strategies they discovered and/or what challenges they overcame. As they practice reflecting on their experiences, I believe that they will grow confident and familiar with assessing their own learning abilities, knowing the strengths they can hone and improving upon weaknesses they come across.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

Upon understanding their needs, I like to help the student develop a plan of action and to utilize their strengths to address their needs. Particularly, I would help them create a study plan that aligns with their academic schedule and availability. If the student is having a hard time with a topic, I like to focus on that the concept for 1-3 days and periodically review and integrate it in future sessions for reinforcement. Additionally, I have their strengths dictate the learning strategies and materials we utilize. If the student is particularly a visual learner, I would help them create charts and diagrams themselves to examine difficult concepts. If they are hands-on learners. I would have them work out more problems and have them actively explain to me their thought process. Generally, the adaptations would vary depending on students’ unique abilities and skill sets.

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

In the first session, I like to get a feel for the student's learning style and personality. I also like the student to get to know me as a person, which I think is important in order to cultivate a safe and comfortable learning space. We’ll share our hobbies, what their academic/career interests are, how they feel they best learn, how they’ve been studying so far and what they find they need to work on. Afterwards, we establish short & long-term goals together, and start out working out problems. From there, I can get an initial sense of how best to address the student’s needs with consideration to their learning style and adjust activities accordingly.

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

When I was studying for the verbal section of the MCAT, I had trouble with reading comprehension too. The trick that I learned and often tell my students is to identify the main idea and practice seeing how each paragraph of the reading helps to explain that idea. Sometimes, it can be helpful to identify transition words like ‘similarly’ and ‘in contrast’ to help identify nuances to the author’s perspective. Other times, it is helpful to write an outline of simple notes for each paragraph and identify the main idea at the end. The more practice students have with this, the easier time they will have with comprehending their reading. Of course, it all takes time and I hope to help them persevere through this process.

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

Practice, practice, practice! Not only will practice familiarize students with common mistakes and weaknesses that they have but practice will also allow them to become familiar with addressing their mistakes head on. In this regard, this routine will enable students to gain confidence in their abilities to overcome their obstacles. To this end, I like for students to consider tutoring to be a safe space to stumble, make mistakes and ask questions. In comparison to in class where they may be uncomfortable asking questions in front of their peers, I am at tutoring sessions as a resource and cheerleader, encouraging them to take a breath, address their challenges and get to the next step of their learning.

What is your teaching philosophy?

Learning for me is not just about understanding but also empowerment. With the knowledge and tools that we teach students as they study, they go on to become resilient and effective advocates for change in society. In turn, when I teach, I also like to be a mentor to my students, creating opportunities by encouraging their interest in learning and identifying opportunities for them to pursue that are aligned with their academic and career interests. My long-term goal is to help students not only comprehend knowledge in their coursework but also to ensure they understand how underlying study strategies can help them to do well in their future careers.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

Right from the get go, I try my best to make students comfortable with my presence. This is because it is important to me that the students trust that I will be non-judgmental and encouraging so that they can freely ask questions and more easily rebound from their mistakes. Additionally, starting from day one, I also like to work with the student to identify challenges and to make a study plan in order to address their obstacles. It makes strategizing going forward more transparent so they know what to expect, become familiar with the study tools they are using and become involved in creating an action plan that works for them.

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

It can be a daunting task for students to take on subjects that are hard for them. My method of building confidence in these subjects is working from the ground up: breaking down subjects into smaller manageable sections/topics or starting from easier problems and then, introducing tricks and common mistakes. This way, they gradually build a knowledge base and foundation so they have the basics to turn to when dealing with more complex problems. Additionally, I like to have students periodically reflect on what they have learned so far, verbally or in writing. Even if it does not seem like much for that day, when looking back comprehensively, they will see how much knowledge they have accumulated and how much better they have gotten since day one.