I graduated from UCLA with a degree in Biochemistry. I volunteer as a tutor teaching elementary school math and English for ESL students, and I have also helped my friends and family write awesome college and grad school admissions essays. I love the logic of language, and I am fascinated by the language involved in showing students the "why" and "how" of things; teaching and learning is at its best when it's a dialogue that goes beyond facts and explores new patterns of thinking.
In my free time, I like to read fiction, play and discuss video games, and ride my bike up and down the Malibu coastline and Santa Monica mountains.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of California-Los Angeles - Bachelors, Biochemistry
Reading (fiction), cycling (road), video games (playing, discussing)
10th Grade Math
9th Grade Math
Elementary School Math
Elementary School Reading
High School Chemistry
High School English
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My philosophy is to engage in dialogue with my student. The student should always be free to ask questions since teaching is largely about expanding the student's patterns of thinking. For my part, I engage the student with my own questions.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In a typical first session with a student, I would spend a few minutes talking about hobbies and non-academic interests as a means of introduction. This is a casual way for me to start learning how the student communicates and thinks.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Excitement is tied to happiness, and happiness comes from progress. I'd first gauge the student's level of understanding. Then work towards helping the student to not just regurgitate concepts, but to be able to apply and extend the concepts. I would first walk the students through some problems, then slowly remove the training wheels.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I would extend questions one step beyond the material or combine multiple concepts into a super-problem. In the first case, a student who understands should at least be able to make good inferences based on what they've mastered. In the second case, the student should be able to apply all their knowledge at once.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I build the student's confidence with positive feedback, which does not mean I praise them for everything. Rather, I'll gently and thoroughly head off and reverse forays into incorrect understanding and encourage the student when he or she is thinking in the right direction.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I evaluate my student's needs by checking their work or engaging in non-problem-solving conversation about the concepts at hand. Usually this will reveal a lack of fundamental understanding or a partial, but incorrect understanding.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Besides the usual textbooks and problems, I like to use drawings and physical objects to try removing some of the abstractness of ideas. In the case of grammar and syntax, I like to use casual conversation with the student themselves as examples.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Independent learning requires an ability to recognize and extend patterns. To help a student become an independent learner, I would move them beyond regurgitation by asking them to argue or explain answers. The goal would be to exercise the student's ability to think abstractly and both recognize and form their own thought patterns.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I would help a student stay motivated by giving positive feedback for good thinking and providing carefully-worded feedback when the student is approaching ideas incorrectly. I would also try to engage the student in a two-way dialog to avoid a situation in which I would just feed the student dry information.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, I would try to change the language surrounding the explanations thereof. Many concepts can be presented in various ways, and some will work better with certain students.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading comprehension is, broadly speaking, the "who, what, when, where, why, and how" of a passage. I would help the student by discussing each of these questions in terms of the passage, trying to get him or her to: 1. Pick out the relevant sections. 2. Understand whether the relevant sections are correct responses to the question.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
My most successful strategy when I start working with a student is simply having them tell me about something unrelated to school or class that he or she cares about. Within a short conversation, I can get a good grasp of how the student speaks and hears questions. This way I can get a glimpse at how the student thinks.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
How I adapt my tutoring to the student's needs depends on the student. If the student has a burgeoning but incomplete understanding of an idea, I can try to extend the idea further or present different angles to round out the student's understanding. If the student is totally lacking understanding, I can break the concept down into what they already know to let them start thinking with what they already have.