A photo of Shannon, a tutor from Harvard University

Shannon

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I have always been quick to learn, and glad to share what I know to be of help to others. Teaching has always been a love of mine: I tutored informally for the joy of it in High School, and when at Harvard, tutored local HS students as a volunteer, and fellow Harvard students on behalf of the university. I am a polymath: though my BA and MA are in Physics, I spent time as a Humanities major and was wooed by the Harvard history dept; I am currently finishing my MBA. Math and Physics are not things to be afraid of: Math is a powerful tool and language, and Physics is not only the study of how our universe works, opening up beautiful vistas into nature, but also phenomenal training in problem solving, analytical thinking, and using the math that sometimes seems so abstract. Tutoring allows me to not only share my love of these things with others, it also gives me the privilege of creating rapport with students who want to learn. I love the "A-ha!" moments when a student understands something new, and relish the opportunity to help the next generation succeed in life and not just in school!

Shannon’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Harvard University - Bachelors, Physics

Graduate Degree: Boston University - Masters, Physics

Test Scores

SAT Math: 780

SAT Verbal: 780

AP English Literature: 5

AP US History: 5

Hobbies

Reading, hiking, pumping iron, playing video games


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

Teaching is not about hearing myself talk, but about listening to the student. No matter how much I know, if I am unable to communicate with my student, my teaching is in vain. And good communication always starts with listening.

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

I start by finding out how much my student knows, how much she or he doesn't know, and what he or she wants to accomplish with my help. Building rapport is crucial, and so some of the first session is devoted to getting to know each other. I also need to ask about what textbooks, study guides, etc., my student uses so that we can work together.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Tutoring is not about giving a student the right answers; it is about teaching a student to problem solve and to apply skills. Much of my sessions are critiquing a student's work, and, especially, methods. There is, of course, presentation of new material and teaching of new skills as required, too.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Ultimately, motivation has to come from within, but I can help to feed that by listening to the student. That first of all gives the student a voice and thus makes the student an active part of the learning process. It also enables me to meet the student at her or his level, to best help the student succeed. Success is a great motivator! The subjects I specialize in, Physics, Math, and Test Prep, are ones which lay a good foundation for success in life, and so reminding my student of the goal is motivating, as well.

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

This begins with listening: if I don't realize the student is struggling, I cannot help. Part of my tutoring philosophy is to remind the student that I am working to help him or her, that we are a team and that admitting difficulty is not a cause for shame, but rather the best way to accomplish our mutual goals. I always strive to be sensitive to how well a student is grasping what I am saying. If the first or second or third way I present something doesn't click with the student, I am willing to try another method of presentation!