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Stephen

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My primary aim in life is to always strive to become a better person. I do this be being a lifelong learner of both academic and social wisdom. It is this drive that pushed me through my studies of English and Philosophy while at Saint Peter's University, and my studies of Education while completing my master's degree at Montclair State University. The drive to become a better person includes a desire to leave the world a better place than I found it. I do this through holding myself to high standards when it comes to kindness and helping others.

I invite others to grow with me as I use the knowledge and skills I picked up in my studies, and during my experience as an educator. I have experience as a head classroom teacher, an assistant teacher and a tutor. My formal professional experience has been in grades one through high school, both in the states and in China. I have also tutored students from toddlers through the graduate school level.

Tutoring with me will be warm and firm, as well as fun and challenging. Please refer to my wide range of qualifications to see how well rounded I am when it comes to my instructional abilities.

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Stephen’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Saint Peter's College - Bachelors, English and Philosophy

Graduate Degree: Montclair State University - Masters, Teaching, K - 6

Test Scores

GRE Verbal: 167

GRE Analytical Writing: 4.5

Hobbies

Reading, writing, poetry, fiction, philosophy, science, history, chess, film, music, bike riding, rock climbing, hiking, martial arts, basketball, sports, friends and family.

Tutoring Subjects

10th Grade Reading

10th Grade Writing

11th Grade Reading

11th Grade Writing

12th Grade Reading

12th Grade Writing

3rd Grade Math

3rd Grade Reading

3rd Grade Writing

4th Grade Math

4th Grade Reading

4th Grade Writing

5th Grade Math

5th Grade Reading

5th Grade Writing

6th Grade Math

6th Grade Reading

6th Grade Writing

7th Grade Math

7th Grade Reading

7th Grade Writing

8th Grade Math

8th Grade Reading

8th Grade Writing

9th Grade Math

9th Grade Reading

9th Grade Writing

Adult Literacy

Algebra

American Literature

Arithmetic

British Literature

College English

College Level American Literature

Comparative Literature

Creative Writing

Elementary Algebra

Elementary Math

Elementary School Math

Elementary School Reading

Elementary School Writing

English

English Grammar and Syntax

Essay Editing

Ethics

Expository Writing

Fiction Writing

Geometry

Graduate Test Prep

GRE Analytical Writing

GRE Verbal

High School English

High School Level American Literature

High School Writing

Homeschool

Homework Support

HSPT Prep

HSPT Language Skills Prep

HSPT Math Prep

HSPT Quantitative Prep

HSPT Reading Prep

HSPT Verbal Prep

Introduction to Fiction

Introduction to Poetry

ISAT Prep

ISEE Prep

ISEE- Lower Level

ISEE- Middle Level

Law

Literature

Math

Medieval Literature

Middle School

Middle School Math

Middle School Reading

Middle School Writing

OLSAT Prep

Other

PARCC Prep

Persuasive Writing

Philosophy

Phonics

Poetry Writing

Pre-Algebra

Quantitative Reasoning

Reading

Shakespeare

Short Novel

Social Sciences

Sociology

Special Education

SSAT Prep

SSAT- Elementary Level

SSAT- Middle Level

STAAR Prep

STAAR EOC Prep

STAAR Grades 3-8 Prep

Study Skills

Study Skills and Organization

Summer

Test Prep

Vocabulary

Writing


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

My teaching philosophy holds that all learners are equal. This doesn't mean that we all have equal knowledge and interests. In means that we have the equal right to grow from our current abilities so that we can expand our knowledge and interests. My approach is to meet learners at their academic level so that we have a stronger footing from which to grow. Whenever possible, I link all strategies and skills to what the learner is interested in. This will increase the chance that learners will carry their knowledge beyond simply your next test or assessment. My knowledge, warmth, patience and sense of humor help set a tone for learning that will help the learner feel safe to take risks when rising to challenges that are calibrated to build confidence and ability.

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

What happens in the first session depends on the needs of the student. Some students will want to jump right into the learning, while others, especially younger students, will need a feeling out period. The feeling out period will be a general discussion of our interests, as well as the student's goals or expectations. If a student does not have a clear idea of goals and expectations, then I can provide an initial assessment that will point to certain needs that will need to be addressed. For minors, ultimately it is the parents' wishes that will set the stage for my approach. No matter what age the student is, however, the best results will come only after the learner feels comfortable enough to take those initial steps towards a trustworthy and productive relationship with the tutor.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

There is a notion in education called the Zone of Proximal Development [ZPD]. This is that zone of learning where a student is challenged at just the right intensity. If a task is too challenging, the student may become discouraged and give up before a strong enough effort can be put forth. If a task isn't challenging enough, the student will be able to complete the task independently, but will not actually be learning much. The trick is to challenge the student just enough so that, with assistance, the student can succeed. Overcoming such challenges is how confidence is built. The ZPD is different for all learners and all subjects, and will shift forward as a learner continues to learn. As learners stick with me, they will learn to see challenges as opportunities, rather than as things to be avoided.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

One key to staying motivated is by staying interested. This is why I try to tie all skills and strategies back to something the student is interested in. If we're learning how to identify the main idea, and the student is interested in sports, then we will begin with identifying the main idea in sports articles. Once confidence is built through application of a skill towards something we're interested in, then we can branch it out to other topics. Another way to stay motivated is to set clear achievable goals, and to track our success. It feels good to strike accomplished goals off the list. Some students prefer to hear praise often, some just wanted to be reminded of what is at stake if they succeed with their learning goals. Really, how to stay motivated will vary from student to student. Exploring ways to stay motivated will be one of the first things I address with a student.

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

When a student has difficulty learning a skill or a concept it is important to figure out what the student does understand about the skill or concept and to figure out what the student does not understand. Then we should explore ways to use what we understand as a bridge to what we need to understand. If a skill or concept is totally outside of our current understanding, then we start with a more foundational skill or concept that we can stand on to get to the next level. Sometimes difficulty learning a skill or concept comes from other reasons. Maybe a student just isn't interested, or is just having trouble understanding the terms of the directions. What will always be key, though, is discovery exactly where the difficulty is coming from so that we can take steps to remove such barriers.

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

Struggles with reading comprehension usually come when a text is too difficult or when a text is not interesting. Therefore, it is important to establish the reading level of the student, and to ensure the student all reading levels are acceptable to start from. The key is that we are always improving from where we are. Once the reading level is established, we can begin working on skills that we can use to help out comprehension of texts that are not too easy and not too hard. When we have a foundation of basic skills, we can begin applying them to increasingly difficult texts. That's how we grow our reading levels and our abilities to comprehend what we read. If the struggles are related to lack of interest, then I would link reading comprehension strategies to texts of interest. It will be important to expand our interest since we can't always choose which texts we will need to comprehend in life, but building our skills within our interests is a good start to being able to apply these skills more broadly. There are also countless strategies for improving decoding, vocabulary, explicit comprehension and implicit comprehension. They will vary from student to student.

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

There are so many strategies that can ensure success when first working with a student. Most important will be to establish what the student already understands and what the student will need to understand moving forward. This will usually be determined by an assessment that I will give, by a conversation with the student about what they understand and/or by the grades and test scores that the student already has in the subjects or tests that they are undertaking. Whatever the student's current understanding, it is absolutely true that there is no reason to be embarrassed about where we are as learners. I will never judge or become impatient with the level or pace of learning. We all learn from where we are.

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

In addition to looking for links from the subject we're studying back to interests we have, there are a number ways to make learning fun. Students looking to grow their vocabulary can benefit from all sorts of word games. Students looking to grow their skills with mathematics can benefit from starting a lemonade stand where they will have to calculate the amount of supplies they'll need, the amount of money they'll need to acquire supplies and the amount they will need to sell to make a profit; they will also need to be able to make change and work with liquid volume. Those are just two examples. Learning the is tied to interests, or to real word circumstances will be more exciting to engage with and will be more likely to last in our memories.

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

There are many techniques to check a student’s understanding. One way is to take a pre-assessment before we embark on a lesson, and a post-assessment after we finish the lesson. Comparing both assessments will help us know what material was learned and what material still needs to be learned. Another technique is to have the student attempt to teach the material to someone else. They can either teach it back to the tutor or to a younger sibling or a friend. One's ability to teach a new concept can be a good measure of how well one understands the concept. Another way to check for what a student understands is to see how well the student applies their understanding in situations that aren't as familiar. Maybe a student has demonstrated understanding in how to multiply whole numbers. That is a strong basis for understanding multiplication overall, but can the student relate that understanding to multiplying fractions? Does the student understand how multiplication relates to division? There are many layers to understanding a given subject. I always push for the deepest understanding of as many layers as possible.

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

The single best way to build confidence in a subject is through success in that subject. Again, this is where the Zones of Proximal Development come in. If something is too challenging then it is discouraging and gets in the way of learning. If something is not challenging enough then we can easily complete it and build a sense of false confidence that will be crushed whenever we meet a real challenge. However, if we are challenged at the right level and given the right amount of guidance then we can work through the difficulties as we succeed. The more we succeed in this way, the more our confidence will grow.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

Students' needs will be evaluated based on the information parents provide, information students provide and through continuous assessments so that we can always discover where we are and where we need to go in our learning.

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

All lessons will be adapted to meet any student's needs. These needs are based on current academic level, desired academic level, interests, learning styles, stamina, etc. My aim is always to meet the student at their current level, and to build on that.

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

Materials used during a tutoring session will depend on a lot of things. I ask that students be ready with an appropriate writing utensil, paper and whatever curriculum they have. I can provide these when necessary and appropriate. Any other materials will be determined on a student-by-student, subject by subject basis.


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