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As a lifelong educator, I have spent my career helping students to achieve their academic dreams. From primary school through graduate studies, I have worked with students of all ages and calibers, each toward a unique educational agenda. I believe that all students can learn, given the drive and the right resources. Thus, all students may be able to achieve whatever it is they set their minds toward. I thrive on helping people overcome their obstacles and accomplish their goals.

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Russel’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: University of Arizona - Bachelors, History and Philosophy

Graduate Degree: University of Arizona - PHD, Higher Education


Woodworking, Music, my Toddler!

Tutoring Subjects

Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

Anyone can learn. You just need the right resources and the drive to overcome what at first seems hard. I've worked with graduate students who could barely write, and middle school prodigies - everyone benefits from pushing their boundaries and learning the "how" of academics.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

In the first session, I may want to get to know the student, and the problem they’re facing or academic goal they are trying to achieve. Then, I expect we would work together to formulate a mission to accomplish that goal. Sometimes that may necessitate homework on both of our parts, but in the end the path to the goal will be clarified.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

It's important to understand that much of what you need to succeed in academia isn't mastery of facts and figures, but the understanding of both how to find those resources and of what skills will need to be developed to accomplish goals. Successful students in college aren't necessarily the smartest, but they are the ones with the best academic resource skills. With that background, with that drive to develop ones learning skills, anyone can achieve.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

If a problem is killing us, we need to break it down. Sure, at times it's going to be hard. It's going to get difficult. The temptation to quit may become strong. But a lot of what we are going to study isn't necessarily about the subject, but about how to conquer the subject. If we focus on the goal of getting good AT academics, getting past the individual content issues will become easier.

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

When a student is struggling with a skill or concept, it's usually one of two things. Either the it hasn't been sufficiently explained in a way that clicks for that student, or there is some underlying deficiency in the background preparation. Overcoming these hurdles may require re-teaching the content in multiple ways to find what sticks for that specific student's learning style, or diagnosing what is missing from the background and ensuring that we can fill in those gaps.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

There are lots of techniques that may help a student overcome issues with reading comprehension. Putting the content into your own words, translating it into more 'normal' language, and helping the student recognize context and other clues to develop the skills necessary to better understand the material are but a few.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

I set a high bar for expectation, and then ensure that my students have the tools to meet that bar. I have found that by scaffolding and supporting the student's skill-set, they have a much greater chance of accomplishing far more than they may have initially imagined. When we start, we will determine what we want to accomplish, push that further, and then develop a plan of attack to get there.

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

Sometimes the struggle isn't about the material, but about some kind of historic experience with the subject matter itself. Most 2nd graders like math. Few high school students do. This isn't because of math, but often because of a bad experience IN math. So, in order to overcome this, we need to develop the understanding that this isn't about learning how to solve for X or explain the causes of World War Two. It's about showing you can find a path through an equation or how to think about and research a complex idea. Both are about what you can do - not about what you know. You can learn to do anything, and math or history or whatever is just a venue in which you can prove that.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

Multiple forms of assessment will best assure that my understanding of a student's comprehension is as accurate as possible. In math, that may mean parallel problems or complicated/real-world problems. In other subjects that may come through conversations, papers, short answers, and so on. It is important to provide students with different methods for proving their abilities.

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

I like to help students develop the skills necessary to succeed. Thus, we may need to start from scratch and build a scaffold before trying to erect the tower of knowledge. These supports will ensure that the student has the right background, skill-set, and confidence to conquer that subject.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

In order to understand a student's needs, I'm going to ask a lot of questions. I can't assume that I know what is necessary or where you want to go. I'm going to ask you, and pry a little, and try to develop a complete, holistic understanding of your academic and subject needs.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

Each student is different, so each student gets differentiated instruction. Each subject has multifaceted methods of approaching a problem, and it's important to make sure that as we build skills to approach those problems, the student is being taught or tutored in a way that resonates. By learning about my students' preferred styles, it helps to build appropriate lessons, assessments and guidelines for our journey.

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

Depending on the student's need, I may use anything from a pencil and paper to a construction site or a movie theater. Depending on the problem, the context, the issue, and the needs, the materials will be varied. In a digital realm, I think it is important to provide comprehensive two-way communication to go with the problems we are trying to conquer.

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