If asked, I would define myself as a lifelong student. I feel that in order to truly feel happy and satisfied that one must always pursue further opportunities for learning, growth and personal development. These personal pursuits do not need to be limited purely to the more traditional, academic realm (i.e. college courses and more formal degree programs). With the vast array of resources now available online - including free courses from top Universities and more independent course platforms like Udemy and Coursera through which you can actually build your own course and further your own education in the process - there isn’t a single excuse for growing stale and stagnant (in terms of personal education).
I feel that one of the best sensations in life is the spark of creativity and intrigue that accompanies a “deep dive” into a new subject. I consistently strive to cultivate further learning and growth by consuming course content, ebooks, audiobooks, podcasts and more! If I feel that my knowledge of a particular topic is lacking, I will take it upon myself to deeply dive into that subject matter so I am able to provide the most accurate and up-to-date instruction possible when tutoring. I believe that it is this type of passion and persistence that lies at the heart of any great instructor and that is even more important than “innate intelligence”.
One of the greatest barriers that can stand in the way of further learning and growth is a lack of clarity, support and guidance. We know where we are currently, have a clear end goal in mind, and we are willing to work diligently to reach that end goal. The problem is that we have absolutely no idea how to go about mapping out the steps and sub-steps required to move from start to finish.
This confusion often gives way to self-doubt, a lack of confidence in our ability, and ultimately abandonment of those educational pursuits. I believe that this is where a tutor can fill a fundamental role. A tutor can help his/her students greatly by providing structure and guidance, along with consistent reinforcement, to guard against the onset of self-doubt.
Additionally a skilled tutor will excel in the following:
*Determine the best way to structure content so that it will appeal to a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner.
*Clearly map out the path from start to finish along with subgoals that are accomplished along that journey.
*Provide reinforcement when goals are achieved and work collaboratively with the student to troubleshoot any new challenges that emerge along the way.
I look forward to furthering my own learning as I strive to provide my students with the best possible tutoring experience.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Minnesota-Twin Cities - Bachelors, Entrepreneurial Management; Kinesiology
Graduate Degree: University of Minnesota-Twin Cities - Current Grad Student, Kinesiology - Exercise Physiology
Cycling; strength training; audiobooks and podcasts
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
One of the greatest barriers that can stand in the way of further learning and growth is a lack of clarity, support and guidance. We know where we are currently, have a clear end goal in mind, and we are willing to work diligently to reach that end goal. The problem is that we have absolutely no idea how to go about mapping out the steps and sub-steps required to move from start to finish. This confusion often gives way to self-doubt, a lack of confidence in our ability, and ultimately abandonment of those educational pursuits. I believe that this is where a tutor can fill a fundamental role. A tutor can help his/her students greatly by providing structure and guidance, along with consistent reinforcement, to guard against the onset of self-doubt. A skilled tutor will also be able to adjust the presentation of what is studied to appeal to particular learning styles (auditory, visual, or kinesthetic) and to be as engaging as possible!
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I feel that it is critically important to uncover the particular learning style and strategies that best fit the student during this introductory session. Any content, even that which the student may initially view as boring, can be made at least a bit more intriguing if presented in the right way! This first session also serves as a valuable time for the student and I to get to know a bit more about one another. Establishing a base of trust and collaboration helps to make future learning a success.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
To become an independent learner, it is important for the student to take a central role in structuring his/her overall learning plan and setting the sub-goals that lie between the starting point and accomplishment of the task at hand. The student must be able to determine how he/she defines success; and what will serve as the primary indicator(s) when a particular sub-goal is reached.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Overall I feel that intrinsic motivation (with rewards established by the student) is far more effective than extrinsic motivation (an external reward or prize). Taking time to clearly write out those intrinsically motivating factors is key. What exactly will the student achieve by earning a particular grade or passing a key exam? Will he/she feel an increased sensation of confidence and self-sufficiency? Often by pinpointing and placing focus on the positive emotions that a student will experience by reaching a particular goal will serve as a primary source of motivation.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
We all are bound to encounter skills and concepts that we find perpetually challenging. We may find that we have to devote significantly more time and effort to the study of these concepts when comparing them to other topics that come to us more naturally. In these situations, mapping out a clear path from start to finish with measurable, relevant, attainable and time-bound sub-goals is even more important. The overall skill or concept may pose a challenge, but the clearly-defined sub-goals will be easier to obtain. Additionally, tracking these sub-goals, and more specifically the accomplishment of such goals, will provide a consistent source of motivation that makes sticking with the overarching goal more enjoyable.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
In this situation I have found it helpful to first read through a particularly difficult passage and then take time to discuss the underlying concepts that the passage is trying to relay. I’ll work with the student to link the concepts in that particular passage to those expressed earlier to work to create an overall more comprehensive picture. Taking time to rewrite what is expressed in “his or her own words” can also help.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Overall I have found that using the SMART goal structure to establish goals and sub-goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic/relevant, and time-based to be extremely useful. Setting a clear intention to accomplish these goals, and maintaining focus on the next immediate task at hand, is yet another key component of this process. Tracking these goals and checking off when they are successfully accomplished (perhaps in a personal journal or excel spreadsheet) can also be particularly motivating.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
This is also a situation in which tracking SMART goals and then clearly checking off when those goals are accomplished, can be useful. Even if the student isn’t particularly excited by the topic at hand, he/she will likely find at least some excitement in the sense of accomplishment that comes with checking off successfully completed tasks. Another strategy that may help in this situation is “task pairing” in which a less engaging task is paired with a rewarding task. As an example, a student may reward him/herself with permission to read a chapter of a favorite text for every chapter (or two) that is read from a more challenging, less enjoyable text.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I feel that one of the most useful techniques to test understanding is to have the student “teach back” what he/she just reviewed. We may feel that we fully understand a particular item/concept only to realize how much of the overall picture is missing when we attempt to teach that content to another individual.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I believe that confidence is best built when a student is able to track his/her incremental progress toward a larger end goal. Tracking and accomplishing small sub-goals that lie on the path toward this larger end goal will serve to reinforce the student’s confidence in her/her ability to make progress over time. Additionally, when we encounter a task that is particularly challenging or that results in what we would traditionally view as failure, we will take a moment or two for self-reflection to pinpoint what we can learn from the experience. Even when goals are not accomplished we can gain greater insight into factors such as our own greatest challenges, the strategies that help or hurt us in making progress, etc. Absolutely everything can be viewed as an opportunity for further growth and development.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I feel it is quite important to clearly pinpoint a student’s specific end goal and then take time to work backward and determine the particular needs that contribute to that end goal. To pinpoint these particular needs, I find it helpful to ask what factors, exactly, tend to cause the greatest levels of anxiety or distress. While it may be a bit uncomfortable to do so, pinpointing these primary pain points is a critical factor in setting up strategies that allow us to work through them and ultimately use them to our advantage. For example, one student’s particular pain point may be rooted in a lack of self confidence in his/her ability to complete a given task. In that situation it would be especially helpful to provide continuous reinforcement - highlighting goals that are accomplished - to build a greater level of self-trust.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
There is bound to be a bit of initial trial and error when determining the particular tutoring approach that will best fit the needs of an individual student or students. I feel one of the most important points here is to be open to consistent adjustment based on the feedback that is received. As a tutor, I aim to form a very open and collaborative relationship with my students in which they are able to be completely honest in regard to what is and is not working. Especially during those initial sessions, I will ask the student for regular feedback to pinpoint the strategies they find most helpful and then make further adjustments from that point forward.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
The materials that I use will vary depending upon the particular learning style of my student. Students may prefer visual, auditory, or kinesthetic strategies for teaching. For example, one student may benefit from talking through a particular problem, while another may prefer a graphic or mind map to further clarify the situation.