I was a secondary school teacher for over 10 years. My classes included the full range between basic physical science and remedial 8th grade math, through AP Physics and Calculus. My students covered the range from those heading to the Ivy League and those At-Risk of dropping out. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to work with such a diverse group of students and subjects.
I went to University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University, graduating with a double major in Math and Physics, with a strong engineering emphasis.
I have spent the past 10 years working as a Project Manager in various fields. While I am happy with the switch, I miss working with students and helping them develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. I have discovered that my experience as an instructor has helped with my project management; and many skills I now have as a PM, I wish I had as a teacher.
My strength is understanding that students learn differently, and often need things explained in various ways before fully understanding the concept or process. I am able to work with a student to discover what they need to move forward. My job is to tailor my knowledge and presentation to best match that student's needs.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Eastern Michigan University - Bachelors, Double: Math, Physics
Graduate Degree: Marygrove College - Masters, Education
Medieval recreation group, medieval stick fighting, martial arts, camping, ATV riding, role playing games
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Each student learns differently and has different needs. My job is to tailor my knowledge and its presentation to best match that student's needs.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Introductions should be short. I am there because the student needs help. I prefer to jump right into answering questions and covering content. We will discover any educational gaps as we move forward.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Students need to learn to ask questions. First of me, and then of themselves. They need to review their answers, not the 'math', but to see if the answer makes sense based on their knowledge. This greater understanding leads to more independent thought and less 'hoping'.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I find that success is the greatest motivator. As students realize they can learn and succeed, they stay motivated.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Depends on what is causing the difficulty. Options include: presenting the process/concept a different way, showing how it is similar to something else they can already do, getting them to teach it to me, and moving to a different topic for a bit, etc.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Practice. They need to find a subject or story they enjoy so they read on their own. As a math teacher, I recognized that reading was the most important skill my students needed.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I am not a fan of a long introduction phase to 'discover' the student's abilities and needs. I have found that students like to succeed. We start quickly on current problems and academic issues. This lets the student have some immediate success, and we will discover the gaps as we progress.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Success begets success. Success begets excitement. We start small. I show them how much they can already do/understand. We take some small steps, and get them used to succeeding and moving forward.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
The student needs to be able to teach it to me. Needs to be able to apply the same concept to a different type of problem. Needs to be able to explain why something works, not just how to do it.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Nothing builds confidence like success. Working with the student, we explore how much they already know and can do. We build from that in small steps so the student gets used to feeling successful.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I prefer to let that develop organically. A student gets a tutor for help, and wants to feel it is making a difference. A long evaluation period does not help with that. As I work with the student on problems and concepts, learning styles and needs become apparent.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
There is no 'adaptation', the entire tutoring process should be built around the student's needs from the beginning. The purpose of a tutor is to work individually with a student to more readily identify their needs for learning and success.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Almost all of the math and science concepts can be explored with simple paper and pencil. Though I have used various props for certain physics concepts.