I have a deep love of teaching and mentoring students in the development of their academic reading comprehension and writing skills. My techniques foster the development of critical thinking and embrace the unique intellectual skill sets and cultural-intellectual backgrounds of my students. As a first generation graduate student, I had to work hard to gain the skills that helped me acquire scholarships and fellowships at UC Berkeley while maintaining a 4.0 G.P.A. As a college professor, I am well aware of the current climate of student competition and the expectations of academic excellence students must work to achieve. I specialize in U.S. ethnic and women's histories, civil rights, and the U.S. Constitution and have taught U.S. history and government, Ethnic literatures, reading comprehension, close read analysis, basic essay writing, and research writing at the university level since 2002. As a teacher, I employ positive guidance, skill-building, and writing structures to help all students grow their intellectual breadth and ability to convey their ideas through writing. I have coached hundreds of college students, from freshmen to graduate students, through the process of research and writing college essays, theses, and dissertations and have worked with elementary and middle school students, teaching basic reading comprehension and short essay writing. For students of any age who are intimidated by the prospect of writing, my "interview" technique helps to identify the student's unique perspectives. From there, I use tested, reliable, and adaptable writing structures that free students to explore their interests and construct coherent and, where necessary, research-level essays for any subject. I regularly conduct scholarship and fellowship workshops for college students, and offer techniques for crafting research and personal statements. I encourage students to embrace their unique ways of seeing their world(s) and inform their work with their own cultural-intellectual analyses. I believe this brings the best of our cultural-intellectual systems into the public sphere and enables us to lead with our diverse potentials.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Oregon - Bachelors, Anthropology
Graduate Degree: University of California-Berkeley - PHD, Comparative Ethnic Studies
Photography, hiking, cooking, reading, writing
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Every person is an intellectual and has the potential to make compelling arguments. Identifying one’s interests and developing those unique ideas within a set of learned writing skills achieve successful writing.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
A meet-and-greet to learn about the student, how they view their skill level as a thinker and writer, ask for examples of good academic moments, and ask what they believe they need to overcome. From there, I share examples of previous student successes. Then, we do a short reading and writing exercise to boost the student's understanding of how we will find their intellectual gifts and build the skills that enable them to write academic papers with confidence.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
By providing trusted, reliable, and adaptable reading comprehension exercises and writing structures that free students to explore readings and locate their interests in any topic, for any class. Building skills, builds confidence and confidence is critical for independent learning. Therefore, I guide students to do their own work, from finding a thesis sentence in a reading, to noting their interests, to crafting sentences and building an essay outline. When needed, I guide them to look up words, topics, and issues to strengthen their understanding of a reading. Confidence, the sense that one can succeed, is best built by doing the work with guidance, not reliance. From my approach, students gain tools and the confidence that they can succeed without assistance.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
(1) Positive feedback, reminding them of their gifts, successes to-date, and the promises those gifts hold for their future success. (2) Adapting skill-building exercises to make them achievable for the student. (3) Drawing on student interests - sports, music, etc. - to develop exercises where the topics are interesting to them, so the skill-building happens more organically and with less resistance.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Grasping concepts and skills takes practice and study. I use comparative analysis -- meaning, we take the concept, break down the terms and look them up to understand the terminology, and then find real-life and popular culture examples that students can relate to help make the concept more comprehensible. Then, we go back to the original concept to talk through how it connects to real-life. In terms of skills, we practice and, where students feel they don't get it, I remind them of moments when they did. With new skills, I remind them that no one feels that they get any skill right off the bat, but through practice we get better. I use their own interests - sports, music, art, video games, etc. - to bring into view other skills they grew through practice. I work to dissuade the sense of inevitable failure and replace it with a belief that practice will achieve success.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading short passages, asking what the student found most interesting and then what they believe the author might have wanted us to think. From there, we work to locate a thesis or purpose in the passage and the evidence that the author uses to support their argument. This approach helps develop reading comprehension by strengthening the student's understanding and acceptance of the author's intentions, lessens student distraction, typically speeds up student reading, and contributes to the student's ability to develop critical analysis skills, which enables the drafting of essay outlines.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Treating the student with respect, acknowledging that they are thinkers and intellectuals, teaching them that successful writing is about building skills, demonstrating to them that I am their learning advocate, and sharing the skill-building exercises within a positive feedback framework of engagement between tutor and student.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
By drawing on what they already find interesting in life, helping them see connections between their interests and the topic at-hand, and helping them develop reading comprehension skills to read for a purpose.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I use interview techniques that help me identify what the student is receiving from the reading. I also use short writing exercises to assess how fully developed their skills are and where more attention needs to be placed.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
By studying with them, not directing them to what is interesting. Resistance can be an expression of frustration with a lack of skills or the student not finding anything relevant in the subject. I talk with the student to find what is relevant to them and then read for those interests.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Talking with them, asking them what they believe their struggles are, having them read and discuss short passages, and write short paragraphs. These approaches let me learn about the student's sense of their obstacles and then hear and see where attention is needed. Most times, they have more strengths than they believe. I point out the strengths, which gives them a sense of relief, and then we begin to build skills.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
It depends on what they need and what challenges they face. For example, if the student is able to write narratives well, then we work on structure, how to insert evidence, and build a complex essay. If they read slowly, then we take short passages and learn to read for a purpose -- find the author's purpose and evidence. If the essay is, for example, a college entrance or scholarship essay, we work on structure and formatting and how to tell the student's story within that framework. We also learn to write more than one draft, take breaks, and strategize to meet deadlines.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
It depends on the age and academic year; however, I bring a mix of reading and writing materials including short essay passages, short academic abstracts and articles, paper and pencils. Access to the internet is ideal for practicing research methods and studying terms and concepts.