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Every student deserves the chance to discover their own abilities. Sometimes, formalized schooling does not address individual learning styles or needs. However,given the right, nurturing environment, appropriate tasks and tools, everyone can reach their own levels of success.

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Barbara’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Smith College - Bachelors, English

Graduate Degree: CCSU/ Lesley University - Masters, secondary education/curriculum development


reading, travelling and art

Tutoring Subjects

American Literature

AP English Language and Composition

AP English Literature and Composition

British Literature

College English

College Level American Literature

Comparative Literature


High School English

High School Level American Literature


PSAT Critical Reading


SAT Subject Test in Literature

SAT Subject Tests Prep

SAT Writing and Language

Test Prep


Q & A

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

I would chat about what they are learning for in their language classes, specifically tools for close reading and strategies for clear concise writing. I would like to know how they evaluate their own skills and where they feel the most uncomfortable about their language skills.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Students become independent when they have confidence in their own skills and a clear understanding of the task and the tools needed to complete a task. Praise for successes no matter how great or small is a first step. However, authentic evaluations are needed so that the student does not have a false confidence. Increasing the difficulty of the task each time will direct the student towards complete autonomy at some point. This level of difficulty might be time constraints, level of reading, complexity of sentence structure etc.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

After teaching grades 6- graduate school for 42 years, I pride myself in reading facial expressions and body language. When I see a student becoming disengaged, I change the focus of the lesson, return to something that makes them feel successful or break down the task into more doable segments.

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

There are many ways to attack a problem. If one way to learn a skill were not working then I would switch to another approach, usually talking with them to see what kinds of life skills I can connect the task with so it becomes more understandable to them. Furthermore, visuals help students who might not be adept with language.

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

First of all, I would break down the passage into smaller chunks so that the task does not seem as daunting. Then we would find difficult vocabulary and use a variety of different word attack skills and context clues to assist the student in figuring out meaning. Then we would do a first reading for general knowledge followed by the student asking three questions they NEED to have answered. We would talk about levels of questioning and start with context-based questions and how to find the answers within the text. This process would be used throughout as both a method and habit for reading.

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

I want to get a feel for the student: how do they view their own skills, why are they being tutored, what are their expectations from the tutoring, what kinds of goals have they set to determine their success.

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

Anyone gets more excited about completing a task if they feel they will be successful in doing it. Thus, I would make sure that we always started with some task or skill which they student has shown success and build from there. Another important strategy is to make whatever we are doing meaningful to the student in some way by connecting it to real life situations or experiences.

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

Obviously there are various standardized practice tests for those universal tests. In teaching English for years, I know it is necessary to create both formative and summative assessments based on the work that the students are doing. The various activities would lead up to an evaluation that would focus on the particular skill that was being learned.

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

It is most important to scaffold the learning expectations based on the successes of the student. I would never give an assessment where the student is likely to feel failure.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I would begin with a student self-evaluation to determine what they feel they need to know. From there, I would have them read a select passage from a text and casually discuss both content and style and how each informs the other. The discussion would be followed by a focused writing assignment to determine the competency of the student's written communication.

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

I listen and watch!!! I read the signs of frustration and change gears. I perceive boredom and change to something more challenging. Most of all, there needs to be variety of activities to keep the pace fresh and moving.

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

When preparing for standardized tests, I use a combination of trade book tests and worksheets. When reviewing grammar, I create my own worksheets that focus on the areas of weakness. When dealing with reading comprehension, I prefer to use materials that the students use in class.

What is your teaching philosophy?

Everyone wants to succeed. Everyone can succeed if they are in the best environment which nurtures their strengths and challenges their thinking so the reach the highest level of their own capabilities.

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