I recently graduated from Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics. While there I was fortunate enough to get research experience outside of the classroom as well as many opportunities to tutor and teach and the combination gave me a very well rounded approach to learning physics. I found that the research was exciting and I truly enjoyed the problem solving aspects of it but where I really thrived was when I was helping others learn about a subject I am so passionate about. I helped teach classes for public outreach, assisted with public events at our observatory, tutored and was a teaching assistant.
Outside of my academic interests I teach horseback riding lessons and have done so for almost 20 years. While I have experience with all ages, I particularly enjoy teaching middle school and high school aged students. Through teaching riding lessons my students have taught me the importance of patience. Every student is an individual and learns at their own rate and in their own way.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My goal when I teach is for every student to actually understand why they are doing something and how they do it, not just to memorize what to do.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would have them try to work through some homework problems on their own so I can assess where their difficulties may be. I would help them if they got stuck, but at the same time I would be asking them questions to see how much they understand so that I can assess their needs.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Have them try to work through a problem or difficulty on their own, and step in when they need help. We don't learn by having someone do something for us-- we need to try, and sometimes make mistakes, to be able to absorb how to do something.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Keeping things fun and stress free. If we are really truly stuck on a problem, then maybe we need to go back and try a similar one that is simpler, or go back and make sure we have all the skills we need to solve a problem. Making sure the student has the chance to succeed will help keep them motivated.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Figure out why they are having difficulty and address that first. Do they not understand the material from before well enough to continue? Are their math skill lacking? Is it being presented too many ways? Does it need to be broken down more? Once we understand why they are having difficulty and address that, we can usually start chipping away at the more difficult problem.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Teaching the students how to set up math and physics problems in a very specific way. Most of the times when a student has difficulty in these subjects it is because they are confused about what the problem is actually asking them to do. By making sure we set the problems up and take the time to really understand what the question is asking for, we can at least start in a good place.