Through my professional experience as a Special Education middle school teacher, I have developed a unique toolkit of strategies to support students in mastering new and challenging skills. Central to my philosophy as an educator is the fact that all students are unique. These differences are not synamous with disadvantages. Different learning styles or varied personal interests are things to celebrate.
By immediately identifying and leveraging an individual's strengths, I have helped students successfully overcome their weaknesses. With diverse strategies such as the use of mathematical models, pre-writing graphic organizers, and mnemonic self-monitoring reading strategies, my students have developed the ability to successfully demonstrate their knowledge.
Through the use of formal and informal data collection, I am able to evaluate my successes and failures. Just as I say to my students, "failure is not final". Using my data, I am able to model resilience to my students by adapting my approach to best meet the individual needs of the student.
In addition to my aforementioned pedagogical toolkit, I am a passionate learner. WIth my varied educational, professional, and personal experiences, I am able to tutor in a variety of content areas. Through my graduate education and experience as a teacher, I have expertise in teaching basic literacy through advanced algebraic math. My undergraduate experiences in Anthropology prepare me to support learners in writing organized, concise, and well-researched essays.
Finally, my patience and love of learning equip me with the necessary characteristics to excel as a Varsity tutor.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: New York University - Bachelors, Anthroplogy
Graduate Degree: Long Island University-Brooklyn Campus - Masters, Special Education
I enjoy cooking new recipes & exercising outdoors. I am huge fan of bad science fiction and fantasy.
Elementary School Math
High School English
Study Skills and Organization
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe in a strengths-based approach to teaching. All people have natural strengths. It is the job of a teacher to help students realize these strengths, and leverage these strengths to overcome their weaknesses.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
My first session is focused on getting to know the student as human and as a learner. What are the student’s current abilities? What are their aspirations? How do they like to learn? Only once these questions are answered can truly individualized and effective teaching occur.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Independence is a skill. Like all skills, it requires practice in order to perfect it. The way I have student practice independence is through a gradual removal of supports. Students are directly instructed a series of self-monitoring strategies in order to check their own work and think about their own thinking. I encourage students to always be asking "Is this my best work?"
How would you help a student stay motivated?
True motivation is tied to long-term goals. I can motivate students by establishing a clear connection between the immediate task and their long term goals.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
When students have a difficult time with a concept or skill, there are two methods I employ. One method is to change the delivery method of my teaching; perhaps the student would learn this new skill through a visual model, a kinesthetic experience, or by reviewing an exemplar. My other "go to" method is break down the skill in small parts and master each part separately. This can help both of us find when the challenge lives and overcome it.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
As a child I struggled with my own reading comprehension. I did not stop and think about texts as I was reading, only when completing a chapter or a whole book did I consider what I read. Self-monitoring strategies are key to improving reading comprehension. By teaching readers to ask themselves questions as they read, they build independence and understanding.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
It is always important to start a relationship with some strong early successes. This may mean leaving the bigger challenges until our tutoring relationship is more established. These early successes could be nearly mastered skills that just need some polish. Additionally, diagnostic data allows me to find where the student is strong. I can leverage these strengths to grow in needed areas.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Motivation is key in learning. By linking tasks to real world applications and the aspirations of a student, internal motivation can be activated. Students can become more persistent and resilient when they see and understand the "why" of what they are learning. Furthermore, I believe that everything can be fun. I have no qualms in "gamifying" tough tasks to help students get excited. This is a regular practice in my classrooms.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Checks for understanding are a central part of being an effective teacher. Just asking, "do you get it?" is not enough. Students must show their understanding by completing work by them. When students think aloud through this process, it allows me to check if they understand and see where misconceptions may live. Generally, I apply an “I do,” “we do,” “you do” method of teaching. I show them a new skill. We do some work together. They try it by themselves. The “we do” is when I really let them try it out with "training wheels" and can correct any misconceptions.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I love data! Data does not lie. Diagnostics are quick and clear way to get started with highly effective instruction during the first minutes of meeting a student. Not all learning is expressed best via tests . I employ a diverse toolkit to evaluate student needs. I have used targeted interviews around academics and review of old work to build my understanding of student need and strengths.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I build confidence through success and challenge. If everything is too easy, students crumble under more challenging work. If everything is too hard, there is no momentum to get students started. Finding the middle zone with the "just right" tasks is key. This means evaluating student needs early on. From this evaluation I can create a plan so students are always succeeding and growing.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I strive to be constantly responsive to students’ needs. This means sensing when work is too easy and too hard. Assessing student interest is another key component; if it is not working, it needs to change. Simply asking what needs to change is a great starting point. When things are not going well, changing the medium of delivery of instruction is key in find that break through. Perhaps that means making a game, changing our model, adding color, or splitting up challenging work.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I try to personalize my material to students’ needs. If a student is studying for a standardized test, old tests are great starting places. If a student is building foundational skills, I might create my own material and problems to help build that skill. I try to stay away from textbooks for reading, as they often are dull, uninteresting, and highly formulaic.