I am a senior completing my Psychology Bachelors at Brooklyn College, and will be applying for Ph.D. Clinical Psychology programs this fall. My main concentration of study in psychology is aimed at cognitive and social development in children, using neuroscience and other psychometric approaches. Because of my background in child cognitive development, along with my years of teaching, and desire to become a teacher at higher levels of academia, I find that teaching and tutoring come second hand to me. I am all too familiar with the flawed one-size-fits-all method of teaching in public schools, which fails to account for students who are primed to learn in different ways. Students who struggle to understand classroom concepts taught this way are not, in any way, academically incompetent. Rather, I make it my mission to teach in new ways, relying on all forms of media to illustrate seemingly obscure topics. I focus on the student's strengths, and develop study skills from those strengths in order to help cope with new loads of information.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: CUNY Brooklyn College - Bachelors, Psychology
SAT Composite: 2140
SAT Math: 780
SAT Verbal: 690
SAT Writing: 670
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Often times, children (and adults!) are too afraid to ask questions in school about one confusing aspect of a lesson plan, but hold back from asking the teacher, in fear of being regarded as incompetent to their peers. When these students come to me for tutoring, I like to make it clear from the start that there are no dumb questions, and if there are any questions about even the simplest concepts, it does not reflect on the student.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
My first session would typically involve getting to know the student, and finding out what their likes and dislikes are. After a few ice breakers, I would move on to the goals of the lessons themselves. First, I would try to gauge how much material the student has mastered so far, and what they hope to master. Then, I would ask directly how the student likes to learn. Using their stated level of mastery and style of learning, I would take a look at whatever the student hopes to overcome (in this example, let's say a statewide exam), and create a customized calendar outlining small goals leading up to that exam (homework, practice exams, quizzes, etc.). This calendar would be our means of assessing how far the student has come, what they are still struggling with, and would be open to as many revisions as needed. After outlining all the major and minor goals, I would spend the rest of the tutoring session quizzing the student with different types of questions to see how they answer them and which areas they need to improve upon. At the end of the session, I would assign the parents and student with purchasing one or two resources to buy (i.e. exam guide, sample exams, exam calendar with deadlines, etc.). Homework, quizzes, and videos to watch would then be discussed and planned at the last few minutes of the tutoring session.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
In order to teach students how to become independent learners, I have three goals. The first goal is to teach how to learn independently. While it would be amazing to have a system where every child has a teacher for everything they want to learn, that is (currently) financially and economically unfeasible. So, in order to reach the first goal, I will constantly communicate and figure out the optimal learning style of the student. After assessing and figuring out the students.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I would encourage all questions, no matter how "stupid" they might sound. By removing all sense of anxiety in asking questions, the student develops an enriched desire to learn and figure out concepts for themselves once the foundation has been set. I will emphasize the progress they have made continuously throughout the sessions, in order to give them a valid sense of accomplishment.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I will never rely solely on verbal instruction to teach concepts. By identifying the different learning strengths a student has (e.g. they are able to understand things visually) I emphasize my lessons on those strengths, and adapt the lesson plan to cater to them (e.g. I draw a flowchart to illustrate an essay structure). Whenever a student is struggling with a topic, I will keep changing up the style of teaching until the subject becomes intuitive based on analogous examples.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I first emphasize that reading comprehension will always be dreadful in exams, and that the apprehension and anxiety that they feel are valid feelings that can be worked through. Once we move past the fear of reading complicated, jargon-filled blocks of text, we then begin to develop reading strategies (e.g. delineating main topics at the end of paragraphs, identifying overall main topic, observing author's stance on a subject matter, etc.). After finding the right strategies, we practice with more complex passages, and work our way up.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
As stated, I make it my goal to not change the student's way of thinking, but instead to work with it and hone it, by focusing on their strengths. If keeping track of multiple bits of information is an issue, I would likely show small charts to write as templates to help organize information. If visualizing the problem is an issue, I would try multiple ways of redrawing a figure/diagram to make that information more intuitive. If memorizing information is an issue, we might work on some mnemonics that add a fun twist to cramming information. Overall, by having confidence in the student, and her/his abilities, from the outset, they often realize that they are far more capable than they thought they were, and this type of positive outlook in studying has given me the strongest results with students.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I will often draw real world examples, in which the subject they are studying is currently being applied. Often enough, there is always something within the student's observations of the world that connects with the subject matter. It will connect the bridge from struggle to curiosity and enthusiasm, allowing much more intuitive understandings.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
In order to ensure the student's mastery of the material, I will often quiz them at abrupt times and create review sheets to practice and study. I will also test them regularly about previous topics covered to see how deeply imbedded the topics were covered in their memories. If they are shaky on any previous topics, I will go back, review, and I will not continue the session until I know that the foundation of the lessons have been remastered.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Confidence is less about amount of knowledge, and more about knowing that a subject is not difficult to understand if a student puts in the effort (i.e. confidence is knowing you can understand the Pythagorean Theorem by studying, and being comfortable with not knowing how to approach right triangles right away). I will emphasize that they can become adept at the material with this mindset. As they reach more and more complex problems in subject, the student's confidence will be built when she/he understands the previous levels with ease, and approaches the complex problems with curiosity. Constant reviewing of older topics will ensure this.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Starting from the first session, I will regularly quiz the students, and have them take practice tests. These assessments will be covering all the important material relevant to the subject that they are struggling in, and will have all underlying concepts for different subtopics covered. Weaknesses will be identified by seeing which subtopics have the most mistakes, and will allow catering of future lessons directed at those weaknesses.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I will always vary my teaching style. I may use videos, cut out shapes from paper, create hypothetical situations, or even just act out a scenario. I will focus on multimodal learning (using both verbal and visual instruction) to provide different approaches of understanding concepts. Once I know which types of instruction are most accessible, I focus on those aspects of the subject.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I will typically use printed out practice tests, with a separate answer sheet with all solutions included. The sheets will have spaces on the margins to allow note-taking and other important annotations. I will also use all relevant test-prep materials that I have used before and found to be helpful.