My career in helping students begins when I was in 9th grade at Walnut Hills High School. I was involved, on and off, with tutoring elementary children of a family friend and editing college essays for nursing students who were short on time. I was known for the precise nature of my editing and the sharp improvement whoever sought me for help saw in their grades. Though my tutoring career ended once I entered into university, this does not mean I was doing nothing; I was busy expanding my skills and own knowledge.
Having majored in International Relations, I have studied a wide range of subjects, ranging from basic international politics to the history of mass-consumerism in Europe to Western European Art History to diversity and communication. During my time in university, I also worked as a research assistant to one Dr. Randall Salekin; my duties included editing essays that were either going to be sent to or were rejected from peer-reviewed scholarly journals dedicated to discussing clinical psychology in depth, and shadowing interviews with at-risk teenage boys at the Alabama Juvenile Detention Center.
I have also lived in Germany for a semester, and have been exposed to a world and wealth of cultures I may not have been able to witness were I to otherwise have stayed in the United States. Being near-fluent in German has changed my mind and allowed me to think in more creative ways, which will translate into creative and innovative approaches in helping students learn. My exposure to many different people and backgrounds in and outside of academia has also allowed me to develop the worldview and open-mindedness needed to pass on what I have learned to other students in an act of giving back to the education system that has nurtured me and the success I have earned.
The University of Alabama - Bachelors, International Relations
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe teaching should not just be about helping students attain A’s, but to get them invested in the material. Success goes beyond letter grades and number scores. It is important to be able to think critically and outside of the classroom-box about whatever the topic at hand is.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
A typical first session with a student would be efficient, but free-enough to allow the student to move around. There would be a brief introduction so that the student could get to know me, and vice versa. The lesson would be done conversationally, so that I am not just lecturing, but the student is able to ask or discuss with me points of interest or confusion concerning the topic.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I can help a student become an independent learner by encouraging them to find resolutions on their own. That does not mean I will not help them if they need help. This means is that I will encourage a student to figure out their own methods to thinking critically. Then use these methods in creatively solving problems on their own using the materials they are given.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Positive reinforcement and the feeling of achievement are wonderful motivators, as well as having a love (or at least a liking) for education. Praising a student for their accomplishments well done so they don't feel like they're celebrating alone. By being honest that mistakes are normal and healthy, can mean a lot in the long run.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
How I might aid a student struggling in reading comprehension, would probably vary from problem to problem. Generally speaking, I would first help them find where the problem lies. If their issues in reading comprehension stem from not understanding vocabulary, I can help them by using context clues and rewording the sentence into words they can understand. If the issue in reading comprehension comes from focusing too much on each individual word and not the overall meaning of the sentence, then I would help them with understanding that focusing on every single word is not imperative to understanding the general meaning of the sentence. Reading comprehension issues are complicated, but it boils down to being unable to understand some words and being too focused on understanding all the words. It’s about balance and is ultimately up to improving a student's ability to infer meaning.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
To help a student get excited/engaged with a subject they are struggling in, I would try to make it fun. To do this successfully, I would need to relate it to their interests or to something they would be more willing to engage in, i.e.: games. Everyone is willing to become more interested in something if it relates to things they care about. Moreover, a rewards system would also be in place. Rewarding a student for doing well can create an incentive to not shy away from a subject they struggle with. Combining these two methodologies is the best way to approach this problem, in my opinion.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Mainly, I would reverse the roles and have the student tutor me in what they have just learned along with what they learned up to that point. This is not the same as having the student simply read it back to me. Teaching and explaining what they have just learned in their own words is the best way for a student to demonstrate not only an understanding of a concept, but critical thinking in that they have to figure out how to explain it. If a student cannot effectively teach me what I have taught them, then we must go over the material.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Building a student's confidence in a subject, especially a difficult one, is not an easy task and goes beyond simply getting high marks. However, grades can be seen as a reflection of their confidence in the subject. To build a student's confidence in a subject, the student needs to gain a critical understanding of what the subject is.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I evaluate a student's needs based on what they tell me. A teacher can learn a lot from a student by simply letting the student be and assessing their problem areas in their performance.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Adapting to my student's needs would require flexibility and open-mindedness on my part. This could include completely changing my teaching methods -- i.e. from lecturing to something more interactive. Constant conversation and observation during the course of the lesson is going to be necessary for changing my methods of tutoring and teaching to better adapt to the student's needs.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
The types of materials I would typically use during a tutoring session would depend on what the student is bringing. I would use my laptop, some notebooks, and pens and pencils. Materials beyond that would change depending on the lesson and the student.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, we would work together to find out what, exactly, about the skill or concept is giving the student so much trouble. Learning from that, I would try to figure out a way to match the student's needs and make the concept or skill easier for them. The goal is for them to learn/understand by resolving the specific issue they are having. Ideally, this would be done in one session but life is not ideal, and it would probably take a few sessions. It's better to take one's time and completely learn and understand the skill, than to rush it and butcher it.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
When just beginning to work with a student, it's best to approach them with a one-on-one attitude. You're still the teacher, but approaching a student as someone who is personable and easy to talk to will allow them to open up more and create productive discussion allowing for deeper understanding of the content. It will also create a better understanding of the student and allow them to better understand the teacher and know what to expect in each lesson.