I am a graduate of Wright State University. I received my Bachelor of Integrated Language Arts and my Master of Education. Throughout much of my program, I have had many opportunities to tutor students from a variety of different backgrounds. The vast bulk of my experience tutoring has been with middle and high school students in "at-risk" school districts and students who speak English as a second language in Dayton, Ohio. Ever since my days in the public school system, English class was the one place where I felt free to be myself and fully embrace what I was being taught. My wonderful instructors showed me that writing especially was a gateway to self-expression, and whenever I tutor students for writing, I try to teach the subject with all the opportunities in the world for the student to write about themselves and give them a platform to express what really matters to them. It's that chance to inject themselves into their studies that allows a student to form deeper connections with the subject. In my spare time, I'm an avid reader, a long-time player of table-top Role Playing Games, and a bicyclist.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Wright State University-Main Campus - Bachelors, Integrated Language Arts
Graduate Degree: Wright State University-Main Campus - Masters, Education
Recreational reading, bicycling, table top Role Playing Games, video games, world history
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
At its core, my teaching philosophy revolves around a simple idea: if you give your student(s) a little control over their learning, and put it into a context he/she/they can relate to, they will become more invested in their learning. I believe that many of today's students have a hard time in English class specifically because what they're asked to read and write about don't relate to them or their lived experiences. Whenever I see a chance to contour my lessons in a way that allows my students to express (and further develop) their opinions or express themselves somehow, I always take it, and it's been my experience that the students will work harder, contribute more, and will have an overall deeper understanding of the topic.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Upon our first meeting, I will endeavor to learn about my new student, both on a personal and academic level by simply talking for the first few minutes. I would ask questions about his/her hobbies, what school is like for them, what they want to do when they get out of school, etc. I would also invite my student to ask me a few questions about myself. Once we learn a little about each other, I would direct us to discussing the subject the student is having trouble in. I'd ask about his/her strengths and weaknesses in it, and ask exactly what the student wants to improve on during our time together. Whatever he/she would say, I would write in the first page of a notebook I'd bring so we always have a clear understanding of what we're working towards. After this, we'd dive right into the student's current assignments.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
To help a student I'm working with become an independent learner, I would focus on instilling a few very important traits into their study habits and overall mentality when faced with a new academic challenge. First: I can impress on my student that their schoolwork should be thought of as a marathon rather than a sprint to get it done. They need to be persistent and be ready to stick it out until the job gets done. With that in mind, second: setting realistic goals. Throughout our tutoring, I will model this by working with the student to form end goals that he/she wants to see met at the end of our time together, as well as smaller goals per session. It is integral to a learner to know how to section off their work and stick to a schedule that will work for their deadlines. Third: exhausting resources before going to the teacher. Sure the temptation is there to just speaking to your instructor and they can give you a better direction or help you every step of the way to your goal, but a student will not learn as well or as deeply relying on the teacher. I will instill in my student the instinct to exhaust other resources before falling back on the teacher. Lastly, and this can be the most difficult, help my student find ways to be motivated. He or she will always be more inclined to not only perform the task but to find enjoyment in the challenge if there is some kind of motivation behind it. I will not only tutor them to become more competent in their subject, I will teach them to find pride in the work they produce, for intrinsic motivators like that are always more powerful than simply want of a good grade.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
For me, it begins with finding out the interests, hobbies, goals, and aspirations of my students. If I give students work that reflects these things and allows them to inject their personal opinion on the matter, they are extremely likely to be more motivated to complete their assignments with focus. In addition, I will aim to instill a sense of pride and accomplishment in the work they produce. If they feel proud of their schoolwork, they will be less likely to turn something in that is lesser than what they are really capable of. If they feel accomplished after producing great work, especially if he/she has had a bad history with the subject and have grown to feel inadequate about it, their self-efficacy will grow. This will lead them to be more willing and ready to take on the next challenge and see it done well.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I will try different ways of teaching the skill/concept as many different ways as I have to while engaging as many forms of intelligence as I can. Is the student more of a visual learner? I will find/produce visual representations of the concepts. Is the student a more kinesthetic learner? I will include elements that he/she can manipulate with their hands as part of learning the skill. Everyone is capable of learning; sometimes it just takes a little time to find the best teaching method to match the student.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
To start with, I would ascertain my student's reading level by having him/her read a short passage or two from either a novel/short story or past standardized test reading question and asking them a few questions about what they just read. Depending on how they do, I will move on to teach him/her a variety of reading techniques such as "chunking" sections of text off, rereading, skimming, identifying context clues, and questioning the text via writing between the margins. In addition, I will try to schedule one of our meetings to be at their nearest library so we can look together for texts that he/she might enjoy. Depending on what he/she chose, I would rent out (or buy if necessary) a copy of the same book and would task the student with "no-stress reading" where we'd decide together a reading schedule to adhere to in between meetings. When we would meet, we would devote a portion of our time discussing the section of the book we read. As we progress, I can assess if they are developing better reading comprehension or if I need to shift gears and try something new. If they are progressing well, we can move beyond simple comprehension and engage the text in deeper, more meaningful ways.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
My highest priority when I begin to tutor a new student is to impress upon him/her that our tutoring sessions are pressure-free and a place where they are free to experiment and make mistakes for both are necessary stepping stones to success in learning. Simply being personable and approachable can also go a long way in making a new student feel comfortable and ready to work.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Considering my subject covers reading and writing, it can sometimes be as simple as finding out what the student is already interested in and get them to read/write about it. Many students are relentlessly drilled in English class to read passages and write essays on topics that don't relate to them at all to prepare them for a high-stakes test. Giving the student to opportunity to express themselves through their writing and read about subjects that interest them/is relevant to them is just a logical step to engaging my students. Another method to getting my student excited about their subject is to show them the practical applications that the skills they are learning will have in the future. Ideally, I will also be able to find situations where they can apply what they are learning beyond just turning in assignments to me or their instructor.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
To be sure of a student's competence, I will periodically use formative assessments throughout each section in the form of quizzes (verbal or written) to assess my student's progress several times before we move onto the next major skill or section of material.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
One tactic I could use to build my pupil's confidence in a given subject could be to scaffold each activity so that we try each task together a few different ways until he/she has the hang of it before attempting it on their own. I also impress upon my student that failure isn't something to be mortified about when in our tutoring sessions. I make them understand that I am there to help them, that even messing up is progress on the road to success. Once they get used to operating in a less stressful environment and having proper, consistent scaffolding in place as they learn each task, the student's confidence will increase.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Part of evaluating a student's needs is close observation as they attempt to learn new information and skills. Part of it is asking their guardian (if they are still in school) if the student has an IEP or 504. Lastly, it is trying new learning techniques if the first fail.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I adapt my tutoring to my student's needs by preparing different methods of explaining the material, by preparing activities and assessments that engage different forms of intelligence that he/she may have exhibited strengths in, and by speaking to my student earnestly about what tools he/she thinks he/she needs to succeed.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
My basic tutoring toolkit would include a full sized notepad, a notebook that either I provide the student provides themselves, pencils (I usually bring two spares), sample texts that I've collected from online or a copied source, a pen, and a large eraser.