I like to make learning as fun as possible. To quote Jack Nicklaus "I'm a firm believer in the theory that people only do their best at things they truly enjoy. It is difficult to excel at something you don't enjoy." When a student is struggling with a subject, it's definitely not fun, especially when they don't understand why they aren't having success. My years spent as a tutor and TA at Central Washington University have honed my skills in connecting to students in such way that we make the learning process fun. Is there going to be work? Of course. Nothing worth doing requires an absence of work. However, once I open their eyes to the ways that science impacts their every daily lives and share some of my experiences that work doesn't seem quite so much like work. I've had the pleasure of internships at the San Diego Zoo and doing research in the tropical dry forests of Mexico all because of science. I love to show students where science can take them whether that be state of the art research facilities or exotic adventures in foreign lands. If you're struggling with math, biology, chemistry, or anthropology let me help it seem like less of a burden.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Central Washington University - Bachelors, BIOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY
Baseball, basketball, soccer, cross country, darts, pool, swimming, running, yoga, camping, hiking, fishing, cooking, bbq/grilling, gardening, reading especially sci-fi and fantasy, learning new skills
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
The quest of my life has always been to accrue as much knowledge as I could possibly possess. I want to spend my life in a continual state of wonder that I only seem able to find when I am learning a new subject. As a teacher I want to make science cool again, instilling in students the need to question and analyze the world around them. Students don’t realize that they are surrounded by the wonders of chemistry in everyday life from household staples like plastic bags and non-stick Teflon coated pans to prescription drugs. I like to bring in materials that students use in their day-to-day lives and relate it to the material at hand. It becomes far easier to understand what is going on with plane polarized light, when students are shown that the same process is occurring on the lenses of polarized Oakley sunglasses. Once students start to realize how much chemistry effects their lives they are able to start thinking about it critically. They need to be able to clearly and effectively communicate what their questions are and how they came to analyze them the way they did. I think that the ability to clearly articulate ones thoughts both verbally and on paper is a skill that far too many students lack today in our high schools and colleges. Working with my students I want to help them find their passions in life. That passion may not necessarily fall within the sciences, but science will have played a role in its formation. The beauty of this is that I can teach my students skills that they can use for the rest of their lives. The ultimate goal is for each and every student to reach their ultimate potential, so that they feel a sense of accomplishment every time they look in the mirror.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
The first sessions is really about getting to know the student so that future sessions can be geared towards the areas in which they need help. I often like to have students take an online learning profile to see what type of learner the student is. From there I like to get a feel for the student. Do they need help with study skills, test prep, note taking, or subject comprehension? Ultimately it’s about providing the student with the skills to be successful and confident.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
To be an independent learner one must know the manner in which they learn best. I train people to adapt to their strengths and challenge their weaknesses so they can become a well-rounded learner.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Staying motivated involves goal setting and needs to be more than just a chore. I like to praise them for their accomplishments, and challenge them to continually grow.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I find the root cause of the difficulty and approach it from multiple angles until I find a method that works.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
One of the common problems in the sciences is that people try to absorb too much information. I like to help them understand the vocabulary in their own words to give them a foundation for better comprehension rather than have them regurgitate words directly from the text.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I think the first session should be geared towards getting to know the student and fostering an environment of learning. I've also found it beneficial to inform the student that learning a new subject is process and it’s not going to happen overnight. However, with hard work on their part and direction from me they should start to find the subject we are working on much more accessible.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
The key is relating it to something in their everyday life that they enjoy so that it doesn't feel like a mundane subject. Another good technique is to thoroughly walk them through a concept they haven't been understanding and then quiz them in a manner at the end so that they have success. Confidence is contagious and makes a world of difference in whether or not a subject is interesting or just work.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I like to use a variety of methods that build on the students weaknesses and bolster their strengths. This ranges from multiple-choice questions, verbal question and answer, guided practice through problems, and prepared lessons on tough subjects.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Through practice and positive reinforcement. I like to remind students that questions they did not answer correctly are not failures. They are learning opportunities. If the human mind were capable of perfect recall we wouldn't have much use for books or study materials. One of my teaching philosophies is to be challenging but always leave room for the student to have success.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
The first few tutoring sessions are crucial for this. Naturally you ask the student where they think they need help. In a lot cases they don't know what they are doing wrong. At that point I like to look over how they are taking notes, are they doing their homework, and if possible how their last few tests turned out. I also like to consider whether a student is struggling at a conceptual level, psychological, or both.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I teach to the student's learning style and strengths while challenging their weak areas to help them become a well-rounded learner. If a student is a very visual learner with a difficult concept coming up I may prepare a lesson that is very visually appealing. During our next session we may review that concept verbally so that it has been covered in multiple formats.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I like to try and use the materials the student has on hand as much as possible, because that's what will be available to them when I am not around. However, I do also use my own books, notes from my classes in college, and useful items from the internet.