I believe in doing work which will benefit society, and our youth most of all. I do this as a writer, and I think tutoring students so that they may flourish in school is also admirable. It is my hope to make a difference in young lives, and help them find the confidence to succeed. A test is a metaphor for life. How one approaches it is the main determination of one's fate. I also want students to know that they are capable of success if they work hard, using prior shortcomings as lessons toward improvement. Few people are born with the natural capacity to ace a standardized test without practice. However, we are all capable of reaching our goals if we pursue them fervently and with a positive frame of mind. I had mentors, and now I want to be one.
I aim to foster a love for reading. Books shaped my life when I was young. I devoured all of The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries, which admittedly aren't the best literature, but they provided a familiarity and kinship. I cared about those characters. When I was older I read The Catcher in the Rye, and I learned that I wasn't alone at being alone. Still later, when I read Macbeth, I realized the depth of emotion words could possess. My life was forever changed. It is never too late to fall in love with literature. I believe a reluctant reader is someone who hasn't been offered the book that sparks him. Yet.
As a writer, I have learned to love the research process. When I started, it was overwhelming! I can help students of all ages navigate, organize and cull their research. I am an American Revolution historian with three books published on the subject and another on the way, so please consult me for help on that subject! (George Washington is my hero.)
Finally, I want to share my passion for writing. So many students find it challenging and even aggravating. I know I can help them improve their writing skills. More than that, I can teach them to enjoy putting words to paper (or screen.) Technology changes, but the art and craft of writing does not. And it is a beautiful thing, indeed.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: New York University - Bachelors, English
Graduate Degree: The New School - Masters, Creative Writing
Writing, reading, American history, traveling/exploring. I am an animal lover, and a student of humanity. I love to laugh.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe learning should be fun. The more a student enjoys it, the more he or she will want to learn. We should only teach what we enjoy, because we cannot pass to others what we ourselves do not possess. Passion is infectious.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
A student will become an independent learner through passion and confidence. I must convey a zest for learning, as well as a confidence that he or she will be able to carry on effectively. I will accomplish the latter by heralding their strengths, and helping them improve their weaknesses.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would first reassure them that they are not alone - we all have difficulty with certain things. No one is perfect! Then, I would go over the skill or concept until the student was comfortable with it, encouraging them to come to their own conclusions using deductive reasoning.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Humor, reliability, honesty and caring. A student will sense that I really care about helping them. I start out with an exercise that we do together. Then we discuss how we came to our conclusions. I explain that I have to think about the answers, too. We're all human!
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I like to ask a student to read material out-loud. I can see where he or she hesitates/stumbles, and immediately jump in to put him or her at ease. As we continue I'll say something like, "Wow, that's a lot of information we're taking in. How do you feel about it?" Or, "That's a tough word! How do you think you could figure out what it means?" I want him or her to figure it out whenever possible, while knowing that I'm there to help.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
First, I ask the student how they feel about the test or subject that we're working on - and if they have any questions or concerns to start with. Then I start with an activity (whatever we're going to be concentrating on) and I see how he or she does. Needs may change, and I am constantly on the lookout for signs. And I always encourage the student to let me know what he or she has concerns with. Instilling confidence is paramount!
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I use whatever we're focusing on. If it's preparing for standardized tests, I use practice tests. If it's writing, I use whatever their teacher uses/assigns in class - as well as sharing some of my favorite tools as a writer. If it's reading, I use the book they need assistance with. Or if it's reading in general, I bring a bunch of books and let them choose.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
By keeping our sessions lively and interactive. By encouraging the student, and applauding his or her successes. By reminding the student that no one is perfect, and that everyone needs to learn through practicing. By sharing my own difficulties and successes - and my passion. By showing the student that I care.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
By finding an angle that sparks them - a way in that they hadn't considered, which leads them to viewing it in a new light. By finding a way they can relate to it. By showing them how I learned to love it. By sharing anecdotes about other people who learned to love it, and what they went on to accomplish. Most of all, by making it fun.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
By pointing out strengths, and applauding when he or she deduces an answer. By sharing "secret" ways and tips to find the answers. By empathizing, and explaining that this is a very tough subject that I needed a lot of practice in too. By going through it together, and cheering when we succeed.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I'll introduce myself and talk with him or her about interests and concerns. I'll get things going with an exercise we both work on, and then go over how we came to our conclusions. If we're working on reading, I'll ask him or her to read me something out-loud. If we're working on a writing assignment, we'll brainstorm and formulate a plan of execution. If we're working on research, we'll dive in.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I encourage them to look for clues in the text, like it's a mystery or puzzle to solve. If they find the words they know, they can build from there. I show them how to deduce what words mean - from the context they're in, and from their roots. Often students will recognize a root as part of a word they know, once they're tuned in to looking for it. For example, "vociferous" is quite an intimidating word. But when we look at the root "voc" and we search our mind for similar words, we might think of "voice" or "vocal" - therefore giving us a strong hint at what "vociferous" means.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I've always been intuitive, and empathetic. I can see what a student needs, and I follow his or her needs. I let the student lead, and as I previously mentioned, I believe in asking the student to read aloud. In the cases of brainstorming or researching, I encourage them to think of ideas and paths, and I prompt them forward. By letting them take the lead I not only can assess where they need help, but I give them the confidence they need to succeed. Of course if they don't respond to this, I will lead them, coaxing them along. I listen to what they have to say, and what they're afraid of. And then I address these things.