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I earned my B.A. in Russian Language and Literacy with a Minor in Linguistics at the University of Michigan- Ann Arbor Honors College in 2009. I earned my M.A. in Speech-Language Pathology from Wayne State University in 2013. I have 3 years of experience working as a speech therapist with kindergarten through twelfth grade students, and I am passionate about helping students develop and master all aspects of literacy. I am used to working with students in one-on-one and group settings, and I have both classroom and pull-out experience. In a typical day, I help students to address many facets of their language and literacy, including vocabulary, writing, phonemic awareness, verbal organization, sentence structure, and reading comprehension. Additionally, I have advanced fluency in Russian and would be happy to offer tutoring services to beginning Russian learners or those looking for vacation Russian. Although the roles of a tutor and speech pathologist are different, I believe that my extensive instructional experience will make me an ideal tutor for you or your child.

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Illiana’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: University of Michigan-Ann Arbor - Bachelors, Russian Language and Literature, Linguistics

Graduate Degree: Wayne State University - Masters, Speech-Language Pathology

Test Scores

GRE Verbal: 168

GRE Analytical Writing: 5


Downhill skiing, cooking, popular music/concerts, kayaking, literature

Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

Due to my experience in special education, my philosophy is to meet all students at their current level and help them improve to their personal best using an individualized approach.

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

During my first session with a student, I would gather data from the student and parent (if applicable) regarding that student's current needs. I would also informally assess the student to determine his or her instructional level and help set achievable goals for tutoring.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

I help students become independent learners by teaching them not only the correct answers, but strategies for reaching them.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

For younger students, I work with parents to offer tangible or activity reinforcers. For older students, I keep a log of progress to show the student how far he/she has come.

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

Everyone learns differently, so I would present the concept in a variety of different ways and through different learning modalities (auditory, visual, kinesthetic). I also find that taking a break and doing activities to increase mindfulness (e.g., deep breathing) can be very helpful when students hit a "roadblock."

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

From my perspective, the foundation of reading comprehension is a robust vocabulary. Studies show that if a student does not understand at least 90% of the vocabulary in a passage, comprehension will be greatly decreased. So, previewing a passage for unfamiliar vocabulary and developing strategies and resources for finding the meanings of unfamiliar words (using context clues, handheld dictionary, etc.) is always an area of focus. Additionally, I find many students with adequate vocabulary knowledge experience comprehension breakdowns when presented with non-literal language (e.g., figures of speech, metaphors). Therefore, I also aim to expand students' knowledge in this area.

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

Studies have shown that the relationship between a teacher and a student is one of the most important prognostic factors related to a student's progress. Therefore, I always try to build rapport with new students before diving deep into instruction.

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

Students need to see the practical purpose of mastering subjects they dislike or find challenging. I try to make tutoring tasks as functional as possible and show how they apply to "real life" so that students will feel a greater investment in their learning.

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

I would check in with the student regularly throughout the session to gauge understanding; review key strategies and concepts at the end of the session; and informally assess the student at periodic intervals to measure progress.

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

With younger students, I typically use lots of praise and encouragement. With older students, I use a more data-based approach by charting their accuracy levels and showing them how their understanding has increased using a log, graph, etc.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

The most important source of information about the student's needs is the student and family (if the student is a minor). Documentation from the student's school (such as an IEP or work samples) can also be helpful, as well as individualized pre-testing administered by me.

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

Each student learns differently. Some are auditory learners, some are visual learners, and some are kinesthetic learners. Most parents and students are already aware of how a student learns best, but observations about preferred learning modalities can also be made during initial tutoring sessions. Instruction can then be adjusted to deliver information through the modality that is most comfortable for the student.

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

I like to give students opportunities to demonstrate a skill in many ways, so I bring a variety of materials: worksheets/workbooks; an iPad loaded with educational programs that assess and track progress; literacy-related games and cards; a dictionary or thesaurus; and a laptop.

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