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Michelle

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I am a recent graduate from the University of Florida with a degree in biotechnology and a minor in health disparities. Throughout my undergraduate years, I volunteered as a tutor for a variety of students, from kids in foster care to college students who are struggling with their coursework. I also graduated among the top of my class in the International Baccalaureate program and received my IB degree in 2011.

For two summers, I tutored children in foster care in reading, science, and math for elementary and middle school levels. After experiencing such traumatic events in their lives, the children often struggled with focusing on their schoolwork and fell behind in their classes as a result. As a summer school tutor, I would help them complete their work and serve as a source of encouragement. This experience has helped me develop the patience, empathy, and creativity required to be a successful tutor. Graduating at the top of my class, I often tutored my peers with rigorous science coursework. I tutored a struggling student in the Human Parasitology course and another student in preparation for her standardized nursing examination. These experiences gave me the organizational skills necessary to identify the student's strengths, weaknesses, and learning pace. Based on these factors, I created a customized schedule that helped them meet their academic goals. I put in extra hours outside of tutoring to come up with customized study tools for my students. Overall, I love working with students to understand their needs and am committed to connecting them with the resources for success.

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Michelle’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: University of Florida - Bachelors, Biology, General

Hobbies

rock climbing, hiking, fishing

Tutoring Subjects

MCAT Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

Biology

MCAT Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

College Biology

Graduate Test Prep

GRE Verbal

High School Biology

MCAT Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

MCAT Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

SAT Prep

Science


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

Michelle Obama's quote particularly resonates with me: "When you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.” I've been able to excel in my classes and endeavors because of other people who took a chance on me and invested their time to help me pursue my dreams. Tutoring is an opportunity for me to give back and help others succeed. For me, tutoring isn't just about meeting someone and answering their questions. It's about understanding and meeting their needs, and then going beyond that to make sure they are equipped with the knowledge to excel.

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

I would create a small diagnostic exam for the student to complete before our first meeting. This will help me assess the student's needs and thus reduce tutoring costs for the student during our sessions so we can focus on the material they struggle with most. Based on the diagnostic, we would create a study schedule, talk about how they learn best, assess their goals, and do a "trial" lesson to see if the lesson is effective.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Outside of coaching the student through their weaknesses and organizing their study schedule, and sharing my resources, I would teach the student how to make their own study materials based on their learning preferences. Most of student success is dependent on their own efforts OUTSIDE of tutoring. Tutoring is at best an accessory; you only get as much as you put in.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Learning is tough and can often be discouraging. There will be times when you feel like you can't do it, when you feel like giving up. I can't even remember how many times I've tried and failed. However, by the end of the day, I made it through these challenges because I kept going. As a tutor, I strive not only to serve as an accountability factor, but as a friend who can empathize with "the struggle being too real". I put several hours of work to prepare for all of my tutoring sessions and make my student's success a personal goal.

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

I would explain the concept to them in different ways and provide visual representations if possible. If the student is frustrated, we would take a brief moment to address any anxieties they have before returning to the material. I often employ the "teach back" method, where if a student is struggling with a concept, I would ask them to explain it to me like I'm a five year old, and then fill in any gaps until their explanations are sufficient.

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

Reading comprehension depends on multiple factors: (1) understanding the type of passage (2) understanding the question (3) understanding the answer choices (4) employing process of elimination. I would ask the student to walk me through their thinking process so I can identify the problem. Every problem has its own resolution. For instance, if the student has a problem with identifying the main idea, we would talk about defining and identifying the main idea. Afterwards, we would go over a few questions dealing with main idea. If a student has an issue with vocabulary-in-context questions, I would help them (1) improve their vocabulary using study tools like flashcards and root/prefix/suffix identification and (2) help them identify cue words that hint towards the answer. In short, I would identify where the student is struggling specifically and help them work through those types of questions.

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

(1) Identify the student's needs (2) Organize a study schedule (3) Create resources customized for the student to independently study (4) Teach the student to anticipate the test question

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

I would get to know my student in terms of their dreams, goals, and interests and coach them using these factors. I would also try to incorporate their interests into my customized study tools. Depending on the subject, many of my study tools are interactive and provide a platform for engagement and communication compared to the traditional lecture-based method.

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

After lecture, I often create study tools for my students. I would ask them to explain the material back to me using the interactive study tools. Based on this "teach back" method, I would identify any lapses in their knowledge and repeat the exercise to solidify their knowledge foundation.

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

Depending on the student's needs, I would create weekly Diagnostics that solely focused on their weakness and gradually expand the focus to encompass the subject. By mastering the subject in small doses, my students will naturally gain more confidence in their abilities.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

If necessary, I would create a diagnostic exam before our first meeting that can help me specifically identify their needs. We'd also go over the diagnostic to further elaborate and discuss the student's needs.

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

I would create customized study schedules and study tools for them depending on their needs. Studying often requires organization and discipline. That's where the study schedule comes in. The study schedule provides organization and will accommodate for the student's daily schedule and learning preferences. I've often found that the schedule changes as I get to know the student better during the initial phases. Eventually, we will work out a consistent study schedule. The study tools are also designed based on their needs.

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

(1)Basic flashcards for mastering terminology (2)Flashcards that require the student to organize a sequential process (3)Labeling visual diagrams and charts (4)Study-guide practice questions


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