I attended Pasodale Elementary School from K-3rd grade and Alicia R. Chac???n International Language Magnet School from 4th-8th grade. I graduated from Del Valle High School in 2006. By some miracle of the divine (and thanks to amazing parents and teachers) I was admitted into Harvard College, where I concentrated (majored) in Cultural Anthropology. As part of the liberal arts curriculum, I also studied music, science, history, Korean, Japanese, Spanish, and east asian philosophy, history, literature and religion.
While at Harvard I worked as a Harvard Financial Aid Initiative Coordinator for three years. Our team of 10-12 students worked with hundreds of prospective students and families from around the world. We spoke to people from all backgrounds about the admissions process, college life, study abroad programs, graduate school, and financial aid.
After graduating in 2010, and after two summer internships at Google (in Video Production and Sales teams) I converted full-time and worked for HR and Recruiting teams in Mountain View, CA. My work included meeting and working directly with top executives, mid management, and entry level employees. I also tutored employees who were studying English and volunteered my time at schools nearby.
After Google I traveled to 10 countries and returned to El Paso, TX to be closer to my family. I enjoy learning languages, cooking, playing organized sports, traveling, working with students, and discussing interesting topics.
I've had the priviledge, and great fortune, of being able to travel the world while meeting amazing people who are inspired to create, and support students. I am dedicated and committed to helping students achieve their dreams and look forward to meeting and working with your child/children.
Thank you in advance for your commitment and dedication to helping your child learn. I look forward to doing whatever I can to help your child better prepare himself/herself for what lies ahead.
Undergraduate Degree: Harvard University - Bachelors, Cultural Anthropology
Playing organized sports, cooking, martial arts, languages, traveling, spirituality, and adventure.
8th Grade Math
Elementary School Math
High School English
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy starts with asking myself if I know the content well enough to teach it in the first place. My approach to teaching is centered on asking the right questions, prioritizing patience and humor, and testing things out. At its core, I believe teaching is about caring. Caring enough about each student to make sure they don't just guess the right answer, but understand why it's the right answer (especially with math problems). I work off of my intuition and years of experience when I teach. Finally, I firmly believe that the best way to really understand something is to teach it. So in a sense, I also teach to learn.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I generally introduce myself and ask my students to share a little bit about who they are and what they enjoy doing. With my older students I go into a little bit about who I am, and what I've done in the past. I work intuitively so I gauge the attention and enthusiasm of a student before moving forward with anything. I think it's always important to set clear expectations for the tutoring session by giving an overview of what we'll cover and work through. Then at the end, review and make sure there are no unasked questions so that we're ready to move forward to the next session.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
My immediate answer to this question is don't give them the answer (especially in math). As a tutor, many of us are tempted to just give the student the answer to get things over with, rather than patiently wait for them to wrestle with the questions they have in their mind. It's important to be patient and wait for them to solve a math problem, or come up with an idea. This empowers them and helps them to own their answers. Independent learners are independent thinkers. They know how to solve problems by using clues, asking the right questions, using trial and error, and maintaining a courageous heart.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Humor sometimes helps. Cracking a joke, or simply talking about other things to distract them from their unmotivated inner voice. A lot of motivation stems from a person's "why." Understanding a person's motivation in the first place is a good place to start when trying to figure out a way to motivate someone.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Try to use a simpler example. Analogies can sometimes work, and drawing things out sometimes does the trick. Using object can also be really helpful. Stories, imagination, and referencing something they're already familiar with has also proven to be helpful in my past tutoring experiences.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading out loud is helpful for some students. One of the best things a student can do to improve their reading comprehension is to read something they genuinely care about. If you don't care about something you're going to gloss over it, regardless of your age, status or education level.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Be real. Firm and flexible teachers, in my opinion, are well liked and respected. Students pick up on fake dispositions and overly strict teachers who don't know when to tone it down end up pushing their students away. Know when to be light hearted about something and never forget that students are humans who have bad days too.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
This is a tough situation because some students are really stubborn. For ultra-stubborn students your best bet is humor and a lighthearted approach. If they don't budge then going onto a different topic is sometimes helpful. Tutors and teachers forget that students are people who have good days and bad days, just like you and I. One strategy to get them excited about a subject is to simplify and solve easy questions first. This builds up their courage and understanding to take on more difficult problems.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I firmly believe that in life, if you've mastered something, you can teach it to others. If a student hasn't mastered a subject or topic yet, but is familiar with the content and has the right answer, I would ask them to explain what they did to find the answer. It's important to understand the logic and process behind a student's thought process.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Start with simple questions and move on to more challenging questions.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I first ask them what they would like to work on and then evaluate their understanding of a subject matter as we're working through each question. If they are younger students I speak to their parents and, if possible, teachers. After years of tutoring and teaching I find that being attentive to a person's problem solving process is critical to figuring out what areas to work on. How someone solves a problem is just as important, and often times more important than scribbling down the right answer.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I use my intuition. Respecting your student is vital because as human beings we can sense when someone is being condescending or belittling. That kind of attitude towards teaching limits trust and is detrimental to teaching anything. Having problems to work with of varying degrees of difficulty is also important.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
It depends on the subject. Some students come with homework they need to complete, while others require assignments or problems to solve. I first assess what kind of expectations the student and parent has and try to understand exactly what a student is struggling with. I then find material and problem sets that go over the subject, or assign a prompt to dive into (for writing). For languages, repetition and vocabulary is critical. Furthermore, getting students to overcome their shyness is also really important.