A photo of Heather, a tutor from State University of New York at New Paltz

Heather

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Biology been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. As soon as possible, I set myself on a track to have as much biology in my life as possible. In middle school I entered as many science fairs as I could. In high school I elected to enter into the IB program in order to take both IB Biology SL and IB biology HL (in addition to the standard high school biology class). While enrolled in IB Biology, I often formed study groups and peer tutored fellow classmates on a variety of concepts. After finishing up high school I entered into the B.S program for Biology at SUNY New Paltz. Here my studies focused on the cell/molecular side of cell biology (although I did take many electives in ecology and plant biology). During my undergraduate career I worked both as a tutor for general biology and genetics, and as a professional note taker. Both of these positions helped me hone my skills as a tutor, and realize the importance of having a solid foundation of organized note taking and study skills.
Upon completion of my bachelors degree, I choose to enter into a biology masters program at Hunter College that concentrated on biotechnology. This program taught me to understand the various techniques used in biological research. I learned to identify which techniques are applicable for which situations, as well as how to apply the techniques. In addition to the biotechnology courses, my coursework also focused with genetics, cell biology, molecular biology and developmental biology.
After graduation from my masters program, I had the choice to enter into research. While I enjoyed being a part of research throughout my college career, I realized that my true passion lays in teaching. I have started working as a professional tutor at one of the surrounding universities, tutoring students in general biology, genetics and cell/molecular biology. I joined Varsity Tutors as a means to help more students gain the love of biology that I do.

Heather’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: State University of New York at New Paltz - Bachelors, Biology, General

Graduate Degree: CUNY Hunter College - Masters, Biology concentration in Biotechonology

Hobbies

Reading, Science, Knitting

Tutoring Subjects

Biology

Biotechnology

College Biology

Evolutionary Biology

High School Biology

IB BIology

IB Biology HL

IB Biology SL

Molecular Biology

Science


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

Everyone can come to understand any concept; it's all about finding the right approach.

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

I like to discuss with the student what they feel they need (help with note-taking, study habits, or just specific concepts), and then have them walk me through what they typically do in/out of class before starting in on material.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Helping students identify what kind of learner they are is a huge help. Trying different methods of note-taking and exam prep is key for setting students up to become independent.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Encouragement! We've all been in a place where we feel we will never understand something. Providing a little encouragement and a new outlook go a long way.

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

I like to present the concept in as many ways as possible: videos, drawings, readings, or interactive if possible. Practice makes perfect.

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

Covering the basics. Changing the way you take notes or study for an exam changes everything. My biggest suggestion is always to study a little at a time, so it doesn't seem so overwhelming right before a test.

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

I usually find that introducing the topic in a different way can engage students. Trying to find fun interactive videos or activities is always a good start.

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

I like to have the students explain concepts back to me. The best way to see where you stand with something is to try and teach it to someone else. I also like to make practice exams when possible for the students to get a feel for which areas they need to concentrate on.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

Communication. Talking with the student about what they feel they need and about how they are approaching things provides a good overview of what they will need and how we should approach things.

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

Anything that is necessary. In general, I usually use pen/paper/white board for illustrations and a computer for videos. I will also refer back to the student's book when possible to show them where to look for information in the chapters.

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

I look for alternative ways to learn the material to help back up what they are reading.

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

By not only focusing on what they don't know. It's always nice when you're learning to feel like you already know something, rather than feeling bogged down from too much new material.

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

I work with the students to figure out how they learn best and what they need from me.