Hello, I have a B.A.in English and a minor in music from the University of Toledo. I will also be finishing a B.A. in Spanish next year, and have studied French extensively, as well. Right now, I'm working on a Masters degree in urban planning. I've lived in Mexico, Spain, France and Quebec, and have been tutoring children and adults in both languages since 2006. I've been primarily an English tutor, and that work has involved helping students and people in a wide variety of situations, such as tutoring teenagers in Spain in beginning English, European children whose parents are residing here and need to attend our schools, foreign businessmen and women who want to improve their English, and U.S. students of all ages.
It's been a wonderful experience because I love languages so much. I always approach every lesson with a great deal of enthusiasm because I enjoy the challenge of seeing someone solve a problem, get past a sticking point, or make progress. I'm a very relaxed person, so I'm easy to get a long with. I enjoy getting to know students and learning about their interests,too, because that's critical in being able to illustrate some aspect of a lesson in a way that relates to things that mean more to them. Working with people of so many different backgrounds has taught me that there are multiple ways or angles from which to tackle a problem. I'm not dogmatic or stubborn. I'm very thorough, however, as I care deeply about these subjects and feel great when I feel the lesson has been communicated properly and that it's been meaningful and helpful to the student.
In tutoring foreign languages, I take pride in accurate pronunciation. I enjoy phonics and the sounds of words, so I put a lot of care into that feature of language learning that I think gets overlooked. Also, I'm versatile when it comes to arranging a grammar lesson in a different manner that might be clearer to students. Sometimes, textbooks will be too rigid in the way that concepts are presented. It's important that you can impart a logical application of a language to the way you would use it in real life.
I'm very passionate about education, and feel that it is underemphasized in our country, so I'm thrilled that I can make a contribution to it through tutoring. I make every effort to keep lessons from seeming like drudgery by harnessing my wide range of interests to enhance discussions. I feel my strong background in music, the arts, history and politics, as well as having been athletic all my life, allows me to relate to people not just in a scholarly perspective, but through art, current affairs and sports. I play tennis, do quite a bit of biking and hiking, and juggle. I've been playing the saxophone for many years and have added practicing piano in the last decade, mostly to help me understand the chords over which I improvise in jazz.
The University of Toledo - Bachelors, English
University of Toledo - Current Grad Student, Urban Planning
What is your teaching philosophy?
In every lesson, there's always something that everyone can discover that relates to them that's meaningful; and a teacher passionate about the subject will inspire students and lead them to making those connections.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
It's essential to know what interests a student, and what their background is like. The whole direction and style of a session should be guided by how you can make the subject matter accessible, appealing and relevant to the student's everyday life.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
When a student realizes that in discovering new things or learning more in-depth about a subject, there's another world that they can enter by themselves. There's a great sense of satisfaction and empowerment in feeling the teacher's not making them do homework, but they've embarked on their own adventure.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Through positive reinforcement. By pointing out how they've contributed to making lessons more interesting for both of you, what they've accomplished, and how they've improved, the student will put in more effort, because they'll look forward to succeeding and take more pride in their work. If someone's already very accomplished, it would be important to challenge to reach for even higher goals.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Be patient. The teacher should take a look at their own descriptions of the lesson, and find ways to present it differently. Too often, it's assumed that everyone will tackle a problem through the same sequence of directions or questions; there can be different presentations that could unlock the door for the student.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
First of all, the pace of the reading should be slowed. If the student is reading too quickly, too many sentences or words can be covered before they are asked to describe what they've just digested. You should engage them in discussing what was read, especially asking them what words they don't understand, and thinking of synonyms that they might be more familiar with.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Casual conversation. Getting to know the student. Humor. Let them know that you think there can be elements of drudgery in learning, but YOU'RE aware of it, and will try to avoid it... so that they see that you're on their side, and that you want the learning to be enjoyable.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
This goes back to knowing what your student's interests are. You can find elements within a lesson that relate to ideas that you know the student enjoys investigating. If you can get them to see connections to things they like, the lesson will not seem like a chore.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
You have to be engaged with the student. Too much time should not pass without stepping back and asking them what they think of the material, or if they're ready to proceed to the next section. A discussion should be developed where you allow the student to talk about the lesson in an informal way, in their own words, to see if they have a good grasp of the ideas.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Again, positive reinforcement is essential. You should also mention any new angles about the subject that you, the tutor, have learned. This lets the student know that learning more about anything makes for better conversations with their family or friends if they want to talk about what they've been studying.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
By asking them what aspects of the subject are giving them problems. It's important to take note of what parts of a lesson they might try to avoid, and find out why that is. Also, if the student is very young, it's possible that they've talked about what's difficult in lessons with their parents.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
As before, all students have different backgrounds, skills, aptitudes; so it is wise to be flexible in how a lesson is designed or carried out.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
In addition to any texts, workbooks or printouts that a student might be using from school, other books or websites that you think the student might find interesting that relate to the lesson can really enhance their learning experience.