My ESOL teaching career in New Hampshire goes back 28 years to when I was in my early 30's, and I took graduate courses in teaching ESOL at the University of New Hampshire in Durham to become a certified ESOL teacher. What I love about teaching and tutoring is the challenge and fun of explaining important concepts in Math, History or English in everyday terms with examples that are clear and easy to understand. I have been the middle school and high school ESOL teacher in Somersworth, NH since 1988. As a teacher of English for Speakers of Other Languages I teach and tutor young people new to the United States in all their subject areas. When I was in my 20's, I did graduate work in theology and psychology, and I worked in community organizations on environmental issues and that helped people of all ages in education, health and affordable housing. I love learning about other languages and cultures.I have been to Europe twice and to Vietnam three times, where I married my wife. When I am not teaching or tutoring, I love to play tennis, to go to the ocean and to read history books and biographies.
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is to guide students to a level of motivation, self-awareness and confidence, where they can discover the joy of learning as an individual and as a contributing member of a larger community.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
The first lesson would involve a learning activity, where the students would be able to describe their interests and their educational experiences and be able to have an understanding of a how our future sessions would go.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Put simply, this requires that the tutor challenge the student at the next step of skill and understanding for which they are ready - challenging them without overwhelming them. In ESOL teacher lingo in the Natural Approach by Stephen Krashen, this is known as 'comprehensible input'.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I would try to assess the weaknesses and strengths of each lesson's outcome and determine what adjustments were needed on my part or on the student's part.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would get back to the part of that concept where the student did understand and reinforce that, give them positive feedback on what they've accomplished thus far and then add in the next step of moving ahead with that concept.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I would start by beginning with a subject of high interest at the appropriate reading level. If there seemed to be anxiety around reading, I would look at a varied approach, such as having them listen to me read or having them write their own story to read to me. For example, I’d have them do a drawing they could tell me about related to the reading content.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
In the classroom I often use word games or creative exercises that are fun but challenging and related to the subject area. With one to one tutoring I tend to do some reading, for example, that would lend itself to the student being able to talk about their likes and dislikes and about their educational experiences, both positive and negative.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would break down the concept into its most basic parts and start work on each basic part one at a time if necessary. Also, often there are some basics that are overlooked. For example, in math diagramming the problem gives students a visual reference to go by. If the student were artistically inclined, for example, they could make a drawing or sketch or even a cartoon to illustrate the math problem.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
The student needs to be able to produce something that demonstrates their understanding. For example, obviously you don't say 'Do you understand?' You say, 'Explain why the character at the end of the story acted like that.’
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
The student needs to feel recognized at each new level of achievement. It can be as simple as pointing it out to them and telling them and showing them what they have accomplished and how they have improved. We all need that kind of recognition and positive support.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
The beginning step of course is to pay careful attention to what we are told in the student profile. The next step is to assess each lesson and then to do ongoing checking in order to test whether the student is gaining in their understanding. If they weren’t, then I would need to look at making changes in my approach.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I would watch how the student is progressing. For example, when we find that a student is weak in a particular skill area, then lessons would be set aside to focus in on that particular area.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
To take a specific example, like reading comprehension in the young adult novel 'Journey to Topaz' by Uchida, I would have available materials like immigration history in California, maps and diaries that would shed light on this novel which is set during the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.