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Mike

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I am a recent college graduate of University of Pittsburgh with two Bachelors Degrees in Ecology & Evolution and Theatre Arts, along with a minor in Chemistry. What's the key to squeezing two degrees, a semester abroad, several theatre productions, multiple extracurricular groups, day jobs, field research, and a published scientific paper into 4 years and achieving a 3.9 GPA? Study skills and test-taking practice. It's important not only to study hard, but to study the right way, and I want to help you do just that!

My passion for teaching comes primarily from my father, who is an elementary school math teacher, and through tutoring my 5 younger siblings in their classes from kindergarten through college finals. Professionally, I have worked as a middle school tutor for college preparatory exams, and as a teaching assistant and lab advisor to college students in my university's Forest Ecology Lab. I have also taught theatre students of all ages through regional theaters, including classes such as "Shakespeare for Tots" and "Stage combat and safety for teens."

I believe that a true understanding of core concepts and practices is vital to the acquisition of new problem solving techniques. Often when we struggle with learning a new topic, it is because we misunderstood or did not fully comprehend an earlier subject. When tutoring, I like to work with basic concepts, laying the foundation for the student's leaps in discovery and growth. I also make my sessions a safe zone, where failure is encouraged and efforts and successes regularly recognized. My goal is to give you the tools you need to carry forward your own learning, finding what techniques and study skills work best for you.

My hobbies include playing my ukulele, trying new food, and spending afternoons in Central Park. I love martial arts and swashbuckling on stage and film, and recently I've been interested in fencing. As a very recent resident of New York, I try to see as many art exhibits and Broadway shows as I can, and I love exploring the city and meeting the people who call it home. I'm looking forward to meeting you, too!

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Mike’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus - Bachelors, Ecology & Evolution, Theatre Arts

Test Scores

SAT Composite (1600 scale): 1530

SAT Math: 790

SAT Verbal: 710

SAT Writing: 740

SAT Mathematics Level 2: 740

SAT Subject Test in Mathematics Level 1: 740

SAT Subject Test in Biology E/M: 750

Hobbies

Theatre, film, ukulele and guitar, soccer, spending time outdoors

Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I believe in laying strong foundations in learning, which then allow the students to grow and make discoveries. I don't want to tell you the answer to a problem, so much as I want you to discover that you knew how to find the answer all along.

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

I like to take a little time and get to know the student, and open the dialogue for them to communicate to me their struggles. Once we have a rapport, we can begin to talk about what problems we're finding, and different ways we can go about solving them.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

By giving the student tools to understand what they do know and how to put that to use to solve new problems, I enable them to take new concepts and build upon them, becoming independent in their problem-solving abilities.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

I believe that the spark of motivation comes from a self-reward when problems are solved or progress is made, and it is recognized both by the tutor and the student. Through regular encouragement, I can acknowledge the successes the student makes at every step of the process, catalyzing that self-reward and motivation. Also, by creating a safe space that allows for - and even encourages - failure, the student is protected from discouragement that might hinder their motivation.

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

I believe that in order to be an effective teacher, one must be able to find multiple ways to solve a problem. My responsibility as a tutor is to provide multiple methods to learn the same skill, trying different solutions until a method "clicks" with the student.

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

Finding out how a student works or learns best is key to a successful start. I like to find out if my student learns best through visuals, physical representations, audial repetition, or a myriad of other learning styles, so that I can provide the most effective teaching moving forward.

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

By showing the student real-world applications for the subject, whether that be in a future everyday need or simply to pass an exam to gain entry into another school, the student will see the real-world consequence of their learning and how success in that subject will lead them to success in life or achieving a goal unrelated to the subject.

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

I think review questions and small quizzes are excellent markers of understanding for assessment by the tutor, but also by asking the student to show their work or explain why they answered a certain way, I can make sure that the student is also arriving at their conclusions by correct and consistent means.

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

Confidence is best built by recognizing the talent already residing in the student. They may not know everything about a certain subject, but the things they do know are building blocks that can lead to understanding anything else they want to learn. Through regular encouragement and recognition of the processes that the student does excel in, confidence can be created and momentum gained in tackling the next step of the process.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

Aside from directly asking the student or parent what topics need to be addressed, a quick pre-test that covers the basics of a subject, or a quick read over of one of the student's previous writing/reading projects, can add to an efficient assessment of a student's needs.

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

Tutoring is not a rigid practice, it requires flexibility in teaching style to match the student's learning style. By asking the student what teacher they enjoy most and how they teach, I can adapt my teaching style to best fit the student's comfortability, creating a safe and viable learning environment.

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

I typically like using pencil and paper, and lots of it - great for writing down ideas and side notes and leaving room for errors and corrections. I find that flash cards are effective tools for memorization, and I try to use the textbook whenever possible, so that the student is familiar with it and has that resource to return to after the session has ended.

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

I believe that using context clues and tone are extremely helpful in learning new words or phrasing, or tackling hard to understand passages. Using what the student does understand as a tool, we can begin to fill in the blanks of what they might not understand, and bring clarity to the whole.

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