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Sarah

I am a historian and educator living and working in Buffalo, NY. I have been teaching since 2010, and love working with students of all ages to spark a love for history. I have two years' experience scoring the AP US History exam, which has given me experience with exactly what it takes to get a great score on that test. I use many methods to help my students remember facts for their exams, including unconventional methods such as through videos, music, and images. I find these stand out in students' memory, and help them to add an extra element to their responses on tests. History is my passion, and I love nothing more than helping students to get excited about learning it.

Undergraduate Degree:

Wells College - Bachelors, American Studies

Graduate Degree:

University at Buffalo - PHD, History

Podcasting, blogging, cooking, canning, gardening, reading

AP US History

Civics

College Level American History

College World History

High School Level American History

High School World History

Social Sciences

US Constitutional History

US History

World Civilization

What is your teaching philosophy?

I believe that learning history is central to not only being an informed and engaged citizen, but to being a good writer, reader, speaker, and critical thinker. Therefore, I use teaching history as an opportunity to teach skills that transfer to other disciplines, such as public speaking, writing effectively, and reading to understand argument and content. I also believe strongly in reaching students at their level, by incorporating fun and engaging elements such as images, videos and music into my teaching.

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

In a first session, I try to learn about my student and his or her needs. What struggles are they having in class? What do they like and dislike about the subject matter? I also would try to get a feeling for the things they enjoy outside of class - the music, hobbies, and television shows or movies they like. This all gives me a better perspective on how I can help a student to engage and better understand the material.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

I help students become independent learners by knowing when to intervene and knowing when to step back. For instance, I may give a student a tricky primary document and ask them to "mark it up" with a colored pen. I would then step back for a few minutes and wait to see what conclusions the student drew, rather than informing them of what conclusions I would have drawn. This helps to translate into better work independently at home and on tests.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

I help my students stay motivated by being enthusiastic, encouraging, and optimistic. Rather than treating their work or test prep as a chore, I treat it as something that can be interesting and fun, and continually remind the student how great they'll feel when they snag the A.

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

With particularly difficult concepts, I try to break it down as far as possible. Sometimes this means using a graphic organizer that breaks down something complicated into easy-to-swallow parts. Other times, it simply means making the subject more approachable, so I try to find a way to help students "get" it, perhaps by using a video or piece of music.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

I try to have struggling students "break down" a reading by underlining, highlighting, and taking notes in the margins of a reading. We then work together, going through the reading line by line to understand its meaning.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

When I first begin working with a student, I think it is most important to understand where that student is coming from, and what their goals are. In that sense, I try to begin by spending some time just getting to know them.

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

I firmly believe there is always a way to grab a student's attention. One way I do this is by finding something that a student will connect with. For some students who enjoy playing games like Call of Duty, adding some military history is helpful. For others who enjoy music or theater, including a bit of pop culture, such as the new musical Hamilton, helps. Learning what gets your student excited outside of academics often helps.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

I use assessments such as short answer and identification questions to gauge students' understanding of the material. For a student preparing for an exam such as the Regents or AP, I would use sample questions and tests.

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

I try to build up students through praise, and consistently remind them of how well they are doing. When they show improvement, I make sure they know how great they're doing.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I use consistent assessments to 'check in' with students. Sometimes I will begin a class or session with a short, simple quiz or term identification practice to 'check in' and see what a student remembers and what they've perhaps missed. Then we know what we need to go back over.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

I am always re-evaluating my methods as I work with a student to gauge what is working and what isn't getting through. If a student isn't understanding a concept in the way I've been explaining it, I stop and reassess. If I notice that a student is really getting a concept because of a certain approach I've used, I'll try to use that successful approach more often.

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

In a tutoring session, I generally use print outs of primary documents, graphic organizers, and test prep materials like practice questions. I may also a laptop or tablet to play music and video clips.