Hi! My name is Raz and I am a varsity tutor. This is my first year working as a varsity tutor and I am excited to meet and work with the brilliant young minds that make up our population. We are the future! YOU are the future!
High school is an odd time for everybody, and sometimes we don't get the help we need to succeed in the manner in which works best for us. There have been times where I had questioned my own intelligence in high school because my approach to learning material was not consistent with the one being given to me. Nevertheless, there are strategies that can be used to learn and value education. I think that once someone has the ability to think, analyze and synthesize, success will come relatively easily and learning will actually be really fun. I promise that much.
You are not correct answers, you are human. You are not failure. You just understand things in ways that best suit your experiences in life and your cognition. I want to be able to work with that, not change that, because that's the beauty of individual thought.
If education is the road to success, then we have to make sure the vehicle that is driving us can develop fluency of the road. There are different kinds of vehicles, but they can all lead to the same path despite differences in speed and engines. I want to emphasize that despite these differences, everybody is capable. I am here to navigate, but ultimately, the student is the driver. You are the driver.
Undergraduate Degree: St Johns College - Bachelors, Liberal Arts
reading, writing, making art, networking, social justice, conversing, hiking, theorizing, stargazing, meeting different people from different areas of the world, learning about different cultures, etc.
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is that there is a foundation/a history to all facts. I think that understanding the origin of a lot of practical knowledge solidifies and enriches an understanding, which will ultimately lead to practical success. I think that it is important to teach students that there are certain ways to approach problems, but that each problem is also unique, so not the same methods will be used. Eventually, I believe that the student will learn to internalize and intuitively understand how to react accordingly to each situation, which is fundamental to better understanding school work, as well as the world around us.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I think it is important to establish goals and to talk to the student about what works best for them. If the student does not know what works best, then I think that conversing and getting to know the student's strengths and weaknesses by working with goals and establishing an understanding on how the student processes information will prove to be very useful with succeeding.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I like to think that a tutor's job is not to impose, but to guide. I ultimately think that if I can guide a student through a problem and that a student can re-teach it to me or to somebody else, that they have independently learned a concept successfully. I am a firm believer that the student is the best teacher. I also believe that an independent learner is one that learns to enjoy ideas because he or she has addressed frustration and embarks on the human need for knowledge. I want to be able to clarify concepts for students so they can understand them on their own terms, and work with their understanding accordingly to get to a truth, or a truer understanding.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I think that setting goals become important here. I think it's important to think of the short-term goal, i.e. to get an "A" on the next Spanish exam, as well as a long term goal, i.e. to be on the honor roll for this semester/get into a college. I believe that when people earnestly believe that they have it in themselves to love themselves enough to appreciate the goals that they have set, it will only be required of me to encourage and motivate a student by reminding them of their dreams and goals and why small things ultimately are small, despite contributing to something bigger. I think that everybody has enough love for themselves to know that their dreams are not to be taken for granted. I think when I remind students of their successes, they become more receptive to that.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
If a student has difficulties with a skill or concept, I think it means I have to restructure the way I am guiding them to an answer. I have to use my skills and knowledge of the student's ability to process information in order to find a method that is most conducive to the success of the student. This requires active communication between both the student and me, and it requires everybody being on the same page.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I have found that goal-setting, setting a foundation for critical thinking (theory based understanding, moving into practical understanding), and active communication of struggles and successes become the most successful ways of leading a student to independent understanding of a concept.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I think a brief but interesting background of a subject, depending on what the student is interested in, proves to be really beneficial. Sometimes school focuses too much on the formulaic approach to problems, when life is not quite like that. I think that the formula comes secondary to the understanding. I think that when a student really begins to understand something, it is important to inspire how the people who also pioneered these ideas also struggled, but ultimately did something revolutionary with these ideas. The student is a part of this understanding. The student is a part of something bigger and better. It is important to remind them that.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Each student is different with regards to learning something. I think it is important to set goals, as always. How the student understands and processes information will be indicative of more specific techniques that need to be used in order for students to gain a broader understanding.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I think reminding the student of the brilliance they are capable of doing/reinforcing them of the times when they did obtain a solid understanding of something is important. Students are oftentimes not told that they are capable or that they have grasped some sort of knowledge about an idea. I think it is super important to remind them of that. Positive reinforcement is the best way for a student to feel confidence. I think it's important to remind them that no question is a stupid question if something is hindering you.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
It depends on the student. Some students have more needs than other students, but I think that being able to establish an understanding about how the student processes and synthesizes information is an important part of the evaluation. There is no fix-all solution, but trusting the student's intuition and way of thought becomes fundamental to being able to see the problem from their shoes and work accordingly.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I think that it is important to keep active communication between both tutor and student. It is my job to make sure that a student feels comfortable enough to ask questions, and for me to make sure the student is understanding what I am trying to guide them with every step of the way. If a student is starting to get lost, it is my responsibility to find a way to help the student based on their specific needs, but it is important to actively communicate throughout.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
It depends on the subject and what the student has for goals. I am willing to help with organization and problem-solving methods, depending on what is needed. I will have a personal list that focuses on the student's needs and goals, and I expect the student to also have an idea of that. Materials in themselves will depend on what the task at hand is, and what the overall goal is.