Hello! Thank you for reading my personal statement. I am excited to start this journey with you and I am happy that you have reached out for help along the way.
Who am I? I'm Adam, a 26 year old graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). My degree was in Biochemistry/Biophysics with a dual in Biology and a minor in Psychology. From there, I studied and took my MCATs, eventually spending 3 years at University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. As you can probably tell - I'm a bit of a biology nerd. I have been tutoring informally since high school, had a position as a "Learning Assistant" responsible for the academic success of RPI freshmen during college, and now spend my time employed as a tutor for a variety of subjects and exams.
In my spare time I read extensively, bowl in a league most Friday nights, spend time with my 3 year old labrador/border collie mix, and dabble in other geeky hobbies (DnD and 3D printing for example) while still making time to enjoy the great outdoors.
I have a passion for learning and teaching, and understand the struggles of academic pursuits at various levels. I'm interested in people and strive to help as much as I can. I'd love to know how you are struggling (and how you're succeeding!) so I can be there to support your efforts.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute - Bachelors, BiochemistryBiophysics, Biology
University at Buffalo - PhD, Medicine
SAT Math: 720
SAT Writing: 700
Anatomy & Physiology
High School Biology
High School Chemistry
High School English
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that every student can succeed. Together we will find what problem areas exist, exploit strengths, and develop workable solutions for overcoming obstacles. Dedication means results.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
First session will focus on what the student's preferred learning methods are, what a student's strengths are, where his/her weaknesses lie, and how we can assess all of these effectively. Then, we'll formulate a plan to take the student from where they are toward where they want to be. This also involves talking about basic skills like time management, study skills, and test-taking strategies - things we'll review as we go along.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Independent learning is like learning to play an instrument. First, we have to introduce the basics - how to read the music, fingering, scales and theory. From there, we start with basic examples and practice together. Once the discipline of how to learn and effectively manage one's time and resources is mastered, then a student should be on course for future success without the direct help of a tutor.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Motivation is fleeting - discipline is for life. Learning how to become disciplined isn't just something for the military - it's a life philosophy. This means valuing your goal more than the pains of achieving it. Fostering this takes time and support. In the meantime, motivation is a team effort that requires effective skillsets like pacing, "chunking" material, knowing how to effectively reward oneself, and ultimately finding one's inner determination.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
We'll try to approach learning from different angles. Sometimes a concept is hard because it's new or because our learning strategy just doesn't work for the concept. Drawing it out not working? Let's try making a song about the problem! Maybe we'll try to make a diagram or even a 3-D model. However, sometimes we just need to take a step back from the problem, review some other material, and come back to it later. Sleep can solve many seemingly impossible problems!
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading comprehension takes practice. I advise any of my students that struggle with reading to take more time out of their schedule to read books or higher level articles each day. During this time, I encourage them to look up any words that are unfamiliar, summarize the paragraphs they have read, and at the end of each section summarize the points are events that have happened. Actively reading may take more time than passively absorbing the information, but it yields bigger improvements.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Anxiety, fear, and disengagement are all common to struggle with in academics and areas of life where we don't see the results we want. Worse is if we internalize these feelings. The first step is recognizing aversion to a subject, acknowledging its source, and working together to find solutions to the problem. Getting excited may mean finding why the material matters or how it applies to real life situations. It may also mean finally getting that "Eureka!" moment of understanding after struggling through the murkiness of "just not getting it." Staying engaged is about being challenged just enough to know you can ultimately succeed.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I always want a student to tell me, in their own words, what the material means. Testing and example problems help, but until a person can orally explain a concept, they don't fully grasp it. This is the concept behind "See one. Do one. Teach one." I want my students to be able to teach the material to their peers. This also keeps me honest. If I haven't taught something well or correctly, I'll see it when they try to teach the material and struggle.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Building confidence in a subject is about the little wins. You need to learn to add before you can multiply. Taking apart examples step by step is a good start. From there, more complex or difficult examples can be attempted. Finally, once the material is grasped, it can then be timed and tested. This is like learning to ride a bike. If we always fall, we'll never keep going. However, if we start with training wheels which slowly are raised as we learn how to find our balance, eventually we won't need the training wheels at all.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I listen. I trust that my students have at least a basic understanding of why they struggle. From this, I can then make some suggestions, tips and hints that we can work on together. In this way, I can formulate an action plan that addresses what we feel, together, are the most pressing needs. This forms the basis of goal setting and provides an outline of how to proceed based on those needs.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Every student learns differently and struggles differently. Adapting is a combination of experience and listening well. As a tutor, my agenda is finding a need and meeting that need. If the student feels that their needs are not being met, then we can either try new strategies or try to find additional resources which will supplement what I can offer.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Materials are completely dependent on what is being tutored (a standardized test, an exam, a course, etc.). I will use whatever materials the student is most comfortable with, or make individual recommendations based on what I have experienced or what they may need. I feel that less is more - we'll try to stick with the bare minimum of quality resources as too many is often worse than not enough. What will you always see me with? A pen, paper, and a tablet or phone to look up anything that is not immediately in my brain. Otherwise, the best materials are often the ones recommended by the primary teacher or company providing the evaluation/test.