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As a tutor, I observe and assess each of my students to learn what modality is their strength in order to give them the best chance of learning. For example, some students learn better through touch and movement so I create lessons where they use index cards in match games or create a map of a story that shows where the characters have traveled. The student moves an object around the map answering questions for points.

Joellen’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Ohio University-Main Campus - Bachelors, Hearing and Speech Sciences


Singing, Musical Theater, Writing, Reading

Tutoring Subjects

College English

Comparative Literature


English Grammar and Syntax

Essay Editing

High School English

Homework Support




Public Speaking


Special Education



Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

My philosophy in teaching is to reach each student through building their confidence in subjects in which they feel they are not successful by breaking down the elements of the subject and then helping to build the subject matter back up again, in ways such as writing paragraphs, understanding a passage in history, or understanding why the total of an array of items can be found by multiplying.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

In the first session with any student, I always talk with them about what is frustrating about learning to them, and also about what their particular interests are.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

When I start tutoring with any student, my main goal is for that student to learn how to find the answers to questions they may have about what they are studying. I tell them, first of all, to not be afraid to ask questions, no matter how "dumb" it may seem. Secondly, I teach them how to break down the material so they understand the underlying concepts, such as main idea and details, how to compare two things such as an essay and a poem, how to identify what can be multiplied to find the answer and what can not (an array of objects vs. uneven groups), etc. I use graphic organizers so the student is able to eventually mentally organize material as they read. I get them in the habit of looking up vocabulary words to help boost their writing skills. Above all, I want the student to approach whatever subject they are studying with the confidence that they will be able to tackle that material and succeed.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

I always use praise and humor and I also use my own experiences. I have a learning disability and previously had to outline chapters and use flash cards in order to absorb the material.

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

I always talk with the parent to see what they have observed when their child has difficulties learning. I try to find the child's strongest learning modality (visual, tactile, etc.) and develop lessons to cue into that strength. For example, I tutored a child who did not like to sit still. He always wanted to stand up in class. So, I realized he would probably do well with TPR (Total Physical Response) methods. To that end, I drew a map of the adventure story we were reading and the student could stand by the map on the table; reading and answering questions while moving a figure around the board. He even corrected one of my mistakes! At the end of the tutoring sessions, he made a year and a half growth in reading skills.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

As I've worked with various students in developing reading comprehension skills, I find that after reading the first couple of sentences to me out loud, they really do not understand what they have read; in other words, how the material connects from one sentence to another. Therefore, I generally start with concepts such as main idea and details before going on to other topics like compare and contrast, figurative language, and author's purpose, etc. Before a student is able to do any of the other comprehension skills, they must first be able to understand what the passage is about and how it is developed. Then I have them put sentences from the passage in the correct order and have them recognize when another paragraph should begin. Lastly, I have the student write their own paragraphs and concluding sentences and I critique their work.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

My strategies involve getting to know the student and their interests. Also, finding out why a particular subject is difficult for them; perhaps they're not interested in the subject, or a particular part of the lesson has become difficult and they do not understand a certain concept, or they are not focusing on the questions and what exactly is being asked of them when they create their answer.

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

Again, I help them break down the subject matter so they can understand the various parts that make up the whole.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

Graphic organizers, writing out questions themselves, quizzing the tutee on various aspects they are learning, and playing match games and fill-in-the-blank question/answer Bingo among other techniques.