I've been a professional tutor for the past ten years and a college instructor for the past four years. I have my masters degree in philosophy and hope to enroll in a PhD program in philosophy by Fall 2017. In my free time I enjoy stand-up comedy, strategy/RPG video games, and science fiction.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: St. John's University - Bachelors, Philosophy/English
Graduate Degree: SUNY at Stony Brook - Masters, Philosophy
Stand-up comedy, strategy/RPG video games, and science fiction.
AP US History
College Level American History
High School English
High School Level American History
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that the goal of tutoring is to create life-long independent learners and that it is the tutor’s job to provide encouragement and feedback but not answers. A good tutor helps a student develop their abilities to teach themselves and to adapt to new situations, new subjects, and discover new methods that work best for them.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
That depends on the subject. For general tutoring where the student wants to improve their academic performance but is unclear how to do so, the first session is generally diagnostic. Asking them several questions to assess their method of studying and making some early suggestions of how they can improve their weakest areas of studies. If the student has a very clear goal they are working towards, I'll assess what progress they've made towards goal and begin working with them from that starting point.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I have worked with college Freshmen for over a decade to help them overcome their academic skills gap. I can clearly articulate to a student the essential skills that are a part of academic achievement and give them specific exercises and tasks that help them develop and practice those skills.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
By providing context regarding what it is that they're working on, so that they can continue to see how each small task they perform is part of a bigger picture that is their academic career as a whole. Similarly, I find that it's useful to teach students how to break down a large task into numerous smaller steps. By sorting these smaller steps in order from easiest to hardest, they can build momentum by succeeding at one task after another.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
For skill based tutoring I would continue to practice the skills with them and come up with exercises they can do on their. I would also emphasize the importance of breaking the task down into a series of smaller steps that can be easily performed to make the task less overwhelming. If they had difficulty with a concept, I would try to tailor my instruction to their particular learning style. I would also look for examples of that concept in action, or similes of that concept, from pop culture or their areas of interest. Then, whether they're a kinesthetic, visual, or aural learner, I would create a lesson that appeals to their particular style of learning.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I tell students that when reading for class they have to do the reading but they can break the reading up into small steps to improve their comprehension of it. By reading for only a few minutes or few paragraphs at a time, stopping, and asking themselves follow up questions about the reading such as "What was this about?", "What was the tone?", "What was the author trying to communicate?", "What is this information important?" and taking notes on their answer they are helping themselves internalize the information in the reading and preparing themselves for the sorts of questions they might be asked on tests or assignments related to the reading.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
That varies depending on the student and their goals for tutoring. When tutoring in the social sciences and humanities, I usually like to begin with reading comprehension and give them a task to perform for the next week. I also instruct them to do their assigned reading practicing the methods we went over so that the next week we can discuss the reading and why it was important.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
It depends on the student and the subject they're struggling with. Usually I try to use examples from their own life and experience, or to select the stories and facts from the subject that are most interesting. However, I don't consider it a shortcoming of either the subject matter or the student if the student will simply not be interested in the subject. Nor do I believe that a student has to or should enjoy every academic subject they study. It can hone their academic skills to apply themselves to something they find boring. So rather than trying to make the subject interesting to them I usually try to place the subject in the context of their whole educational career to make it clear why they need to learn this (usually in order to get a grade or pass a test) but also to make it clear that there is a clear end point to them having to apply themselves to this subject (the end of the semester, or finishing their test preparation, etc.).
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
That depends on the subject matter being discussed. I would give them a mini test to assess. I may also ask them follow up questions related to the material, or give them a sample essay question they might see on an exam. Then ask them to outline a possible essay on the material.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Confidence comes about by having a series of successes. I find it important for a student to be able to break up larger tasks into a series of smaller, easier to accomplish tasks that set them up for success.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
By asking them questions about their studying methods and where they're having the greatest difficulty.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
By taking into account their particular learning style, interests, and background experience and incorporating that into tutoring.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
It varies depending on the subject and the student.