I view tutoring as an opportunity to share my passion for languages, literature, and the law with my students. Using a student-centered approach, I aim to meet students where they are, develop a clear plan for their progress, and ensure they meet their goals. I use a variety of instructional techniques to engage with students of all different learning styles. While holding students accountable to their personally tailored goals, I also try to make learning enjoyable by exciting the intellectual curiosity of my students.
In terms of my language qualifications, I have received extensive training in language teaching techniques for both French and English as a Second Language. I was a French literature major who graduated cum laude and received highest honors for my senior thesis. I have spent hundreds of hours teaching English and French in classroom settings, and I bring all this experience to bear in my one-on-one tutoring sessions. I am prepared to help students of all levels improve their French and/or English language skills, from the fundamentals of reading, writing, speaking, and listening, to advanced grammar, composition, and cultural fluency.
As for test preparation, I draw on my personal success on the SAT (perfect verbal score of 800) and the LSAT (167/180, 94th percentile nationally) to provide insight on test-taking strategies and knowledge of specific content areas. I recognize the inherent stress involved in taking standardized tests under timed conditions, but I strive to empower my students to do their best on test day through diligent preparation beforehand, and by breaking down the seemingly overwhelming task into more manageable parts. It's a marathon, not a sprint!
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Kenyon College - Bachelors, French Literature
Graduate Degree: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Masters, J.D. (law)
SAT Verbal: 800
Reading, running, cooking, listening to music
AP US History
CLEP English Literature
College Level American History
College World History
GRE Subject Test in Literature in English
GRE Subject Tests
High School English
High School Level American History
High School World History
Latin America History
SAT Subject Test in French
SAT Subject Test in French with Listening
SAT Subject Test in Spanish with Listening
SAT Subject Tests Prep
The Modern World
Q & A
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
A typical first session would involve 3 things. First, I'd like to hear from the student why they want a tutor for the subject they are studying. What has been their experience with the subject matter so far? What do they see as their strengths and weaknesses? What is the underlying motivation for studying this subject? Second, based on their responses, I help the student formulate a progress plan -- where do they want to go, and how quickly do they want to get there? Helping the student set concrete, realistic goals will inform the pace and content of future tutoring sessions. Third, in the time remaining, we might as well jump right in! This might involve some initial assessments to see where the student is at and to see if the student's strengths and weaknesses match their perception.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
In addition to working on a specific subject with a student, part of my mission is to improve the student's ability to teach themselves. Independent learning requires independent work, meaning assignments that the students must be complete in between our tutoring sessions. By working through these assignments, using the resources that I provide, students will learn what works best for them, in terms of retention of information, stress management, and problem solving. I'm also happy to provide other resources give the student the opportunity to learn more about what really interests them about a particular subject.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I believe students can be motivated in two main ways. First, by having clear goals ahead of them. Having a concrete goal (such as a certain score on a practice test, or mastery of a certain set of vocabulary, for example) gives a student a sense of direction and purpose in their studies that can sustain them in moments of doubt. The second motivational method is looking back at the progress that the student has already made. This is done by having benchmarks of success at certain intervals along the path to the desired goal. When the goal feels out of reach or the student is discouraged, it is helpful to have a reminder of where they started and of just how far they've come. Finally, I always let my students know that I believe in them and their abilities. I've been through the same struggles as they have while mastering these subjects, and because I helped them set realistic goals, I can say with confidence that I know they have what it takes to succeed.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
The appropriate response to a learning difficulty depends very much on the context, so I use a variety of methods to help students overcome such hurdles. The most straightforward is asking what the student doesn't understand about the concept. Perhaps the student needs me to repeat the explanation or gave, or to reformulate the explanation in a new way. For example, perhaps seeing a word written down will help a student pronounce it better than just trying to repeat it after I say it. Finally, if the skill or concept is not crucial to the current lesson, it may be helpful to move on to another skill/concept, and then come back to the problematic one later on.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading comprehension is based upon an appreciation of three elements of any text: diction (word choice), syntax (word order in a sentence), and structure (the order of paragraphs and sentences within those paragraphs). So the first way to address issues with reading comprehension is to make sure that the student has an understanding of each of those elements and how they can affect the meaning of a text. Once the student understands these concepts generally, I would focus on which element is proving the most problematic for the student. Are there simply too many unfamiliar words in the passage? This is diction issue and can be addressed by vocabulary-building exercises and by using context clues while reading. Is the author's argument hard to tease out of the dense paragraphs? This may be a structural issue and could be addressed by focusing on the introduction and conclusion, or on the first and last sentence of each paragraph. These are just some examples of how I would work with a student to develop techniques for them to use when confronted with a difficult text.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I find that students are most engaged in learning when the subject they are studying feels relevant to their life. To make a subject relevant although it might not seem so otherwise, I strive to help the student connect the current subject with a larger goal. Typically, they are not learning just for the sake of learning -- they are learning a subject as a way of attaining some larger goal in life (admission to a school of their choice, a better job, etc.). I also highlight the fringe benefits of mastering a certain subject. For example, learning a foreign language opens up a world of travel opportunities and job opportunities, in addition to helping you get into a liberal arts college. Mastering the logic games on the LSAT will help you analyze and organize complex sets of information in a short amount of time -- a skill that will serve you well in any field. Framing their studies as related to something else in life that they care about can go a long way towards engaging a struggling student.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
There are a number of ways that a student might demonstrate proficiency. First, I might ask them to explain how they got to a correct answer in a certain exercise. By "showing their work", I can assess whether the result was due to a proper thought process or just a fluke. Beyond this, regular assessments (oral and written) are an integral part of my lesson plans for every student.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I build student confidence using positive reinforcement and by demonstrating the student’s progress. Students actually perform better when they are confident in their preparation, so emphasizing small successes can lead to larger successes down the line. Setting benchmarks along the path to a specific goal shows a student the progress they have already made, and makes achieving the end goal that much more realistic and desirable.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I evaluate a student's needs in two ways. First, by simply asking. Students are often keenly aware of their strengths and weaknesses, based on prior experiences. However, sometimes student perception does not match reality (as in the case of under-confident or over-confident students). That is why I also rely on my own observations and on informal assessments (quizzes, check-in questions, etc.) to figure out where the student needs the most help.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
My job as a tutor is not only to provide instruction in a given content area, but also to coach them along the path to their goal. Each student has a unique set of strengths and weaknesses, and I strive to reinforce their strengths while also improve in the areas in which they aren't so strong. This involves individualized assessments, helping the student recognize why and when they are making certain errors, and providing appropriate techniques for overcoming those bad habits.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
A variety of materials will be used, depending on the content and the setting. In-person sessions will involve anything from pens and paper to practice tests to music and props. On-line sessions can involve all of those materials too, along with all of the tools available in the online platform.
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is student-centered, not teacher-centered. While I have expertise to share, my job is not to merely transmit knowledge to a receptive student. Instead, I strive to actively engage the student on their personal path of learning and help them learn not only the specific subject, but also techniques and strategies for them to improve the way they engage with that subject, or with any other body of new knowledge.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I have found that student-centered strategies to be most successful when starting to work with a student. Finding out where the student is at in their mastery of the subject, hearing about their motivation for learning about the subject and what their experience has been so far, and helping the student formulate distinct, realistic goals for improvement -- all this lays a strong foundation for the work that the student and I will do in the future.