I'm a 31 year old UCSC Molecular Biology graduate.
I moved to the US from Switzerland 7 years ago, got my GED after missing most of high school and went on to study Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at UCSC, with some Genomics thrown in for good measure. I've been on a very non-traditional student path, working full-time, volunteering at hospitals and working with animals. I've got long-running tutoring experience, both one on one and small group settings as well as TA accreditation. I have experience with students of very different backgrounds and special needs.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of California-Santa Cruz - Bachelors, Biology, General
Dogs, biking, hiking and lots of reading!
Anatomy & Physiology
High School Biology
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Be as calm as you possibly can be. Whether you're trying to grasp new concepts or even just memorize a chunk of anatomy: Relax. A lot of folks have more trouble with anxiety than they really do with school. Take a deep breath, you got this!
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Assess where the student is at. See what subjects they like or what interests they have that intersect with what they're trying to learn. People like different things, and come from different backgrounds. I try to assume nothing!
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Guiding a student to build their own skillset by giving them incremental challenges is one of the most effective ways to help them become independent learners. Eventually we can it take a step further, and together with the student figure out how to structure their learning themselves. Essentially I try to build any learner's autonomy in small steps.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
When you're feeling demotivated, take a break. Sometimes you just need a bit of a reset! As for keeping the interest in the subject, I try to keep my presentation of the material exciting, and not over stress the student!
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
We'll explore where the hang-up is - whether our approach is just off, and a more intuitive analogy might help, or whether some fundamentals are missing or misunderstood, or whatever it may be. I try to let the student tell me where the hang-up is - everyone is different after all!
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Tell me about it in your own words! Things often just don't seem salient when you're reading them over for yourself, or as a problem. Explaining them to someone else gives you a different set of eyes, surprisingly! And I also translate sample problems into simpler English, and break down all the jargon into easy, accessible everyday words.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Find out their overall skill level; not just on the subject, but at studying. Some students genuinely just have trouble with the subject - those usually prefer a faster pace. Some aren't that excited and interested, and instead we might have to explore the subject a bit and see why it's fun. Sometimes a lot of skills the course takes for granted were never taught well in the first place - and then review is the better option. I just try to get to know the student, so that I'm not just solving problems as they come up, but laying out a good plan for future sessions!
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Look for a less intimidating approach. Many subjects are needlessly unfriendly by the jargon they use and the presentation. I can also try and connect it with something the student excels in or enjoys - or even show them a skillset they already have that is very similar to the one that is necessary for the subject.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Freeform answers - whether spoken or written (even submitted after the fact) in the student’s language. Basically asking a student to explain it to me, as if I didn't understand the subject. Something you can explain in a logically consistent manner is something you can almost certainly understand.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Start easy, and focus on skill-building. And provide a student opportunities to test their skills on problems they will feel challenged by, but are likely to succeed on. My rule of thumb is: if the student is succeeding less than 90% of the time in attempting problems, I've failed, and I'm asking too much, too soon.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I ask them; I ask their parents; I look at any practice or exam material they've completed, and I do anything else I can to have as much information about them and their needs as possible.