I am a student at the University of Chicago, where I primarily study philosophy, but have also been know to dabble in mathematics and art history. I have always loved learning and have more recently developed a love for teaching. Indeed, I find the two inextricable: you cannot have learning without teaching.
Like any tutor, I like to see my students succeed. I want to see them not only achieve their short term goals, such as getting a good grade in a class, or scoring well on a standardized test, but I also want to see them develop substantial skills that will ameliorate their chances of future academic success long after they have met their short term goals.
I try to accomplish this in several ways. First and foremost, I try to make the material interesting and engaging. I want the material that the student is learning to feel like more than just a subject in school.
Secondly, I try to instill in my students a sense of academic rigor (a cross between precision and professionalism), not as the be all end all, but as a prerequisite--a foundation and a gateway--to successful work. I find this to be equally true in all subjects--the best painters have been known to spend years on end honing their drawing skills before they ever touch a brush and classically trained musicians do not start composing right off the bat. Do not take any of this to mean that I am overly serious--I would like to think I am fun (hopefully, you won't disagree). Rather, take it to mean that I am serious about the success of my students.
Finally, (I could technically go on longer) I pride myself on my ability to make complicated material approachable. I do not just do this passively, however. I do not merely lecture my students. Instead, I help students break down complex ideas, or problems, so that they have a better appreciation for how to tackle them in the future.
I would characterize my tutoring style as active. There is a lot of back and forth. After all, the student's feedback is just as important as my input.
I look forward to working with you, or your student!
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Chicago - Current Undergrad, Philosophy
SAT Composite: 2360
SAT Math: 800
SAT Verbal: 800
SAT Writing: 760
Philosophy, Film, Painting
10th Grade Math
10th Grade Reading
10th Grade Writing
11th Grade Math
11th Grade Reading
11th Grade Writing
12th Grade Math
12th Grade Reading
12th Grade Writing
9th Grade Math
9th Grade Reading
9th Grade Writing
ACT with Writing Prep
AP Art History
High School English
High School Writing
Middle School Reading
Middle School Reading Comprehension
Middle School Writing
Study Skills and Organization
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I have a no-nonsense teaching style. Do not take this to mean that I am boring or mean--I would like to think I am neither of these things. Rather, take it to mean that I value efficiency and clarity. I target students' weaknesses and make sure that they develop a deep conceptual understanding of the topic at hand. I also like to instill in my students an appreciation for academic rigor as a prerequisite for success, so that they continue to employ good and precise study habits in their future studies.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
A typical first session has two parts. During the first part I lay the ground rules for what is expected from the student. During the second part I diagnose the student's strengths and weaknesses.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
There are two components to helping a student become an independent learner. First, the teacher must cultivate in the student a desire to learn on his or her own. This is admittedly very challenging. In most cases, it requires making the material engaging and sufficiently challenging (so that the student has a desire to improve), while still maintaining the student's sense of wonder. Second, it requires giving the student the tools to learn on his or her own. This means instilling in the student an appreciation for rigor, precision and critical thinking. It means teaching the student the skill of close-reading (which is crucial across all disciplines) and teaching him or her how to verify--typically through problems or questions of some sort--that he or she has a good grasp of the material.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I think there are two main components to maintaining a student's motivation. (1) The instructor has to make the material interesting so that the student wants to learn the material it for their own sake. And, (2) the instructor should remind the student of his or her short and long term goals and explain the possible benefits of achieving those goals.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
If a student has difficulty learning a new skill or concept, one or two of the following are usually at play. (1) The way the tutor is explaining the material does not make sense to the student, in which case the tutor should either be more explicit, or should try a different way altogether of explaining the skill or concept. (2) The student lacks a mastery of the prerequisite skills and concepts required to learn the new skill or concept. In this case the tutor must diagnose and help the student fix his or her relevant weaknesses.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
When students struggle with reading comprehension, I first look for trivial problems: maybe a student does not understand the vocab that is used, or maybe the student lacks the background knowledge to understand the passage in question. These difficulties are both easily, though not necessarily quickly, fixed. Sometimes the problem is deeper, though. In these cases, I like to have my students slow down when they read--and even reread--until they come away with a better understanding of the passage. I also help my students deconstruct difficult passages so that they better know how to tackle tricky readings in the future. Additionally, I will often assign brief readings of varying difficulties on a wide range of subjects as homework, because ultimately students need to read things that challenge and push them in order to improve their reading comprehension abilities.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
When I start working with a student, the most important thing I can do as a tutor is set a good, healthy, and productive tone that will carry on into future lessons.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
To engage a student in a subject that he or she is struggling in, the tutor should try to help the student forget about his struggles. I do not mean that the student should ignore his struggles--that is dangerous. But, if the student is too caught up in his struggles, he or she might come to dread the subject, which is arguably far worse. Thus, to make the student forget his struggles, the tutor should make the material feel like more than just a subject in school. This may include making the subject relevant to the student's life outside of school, or teaching intriguing snippets they may neglect in school. Additionally, the tutor should also help the student improve at the subject. Technically, this won't make the student forget his struggles; it will simply get rid of them. Students also tend to be more excited about something when they are good at it.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
To make sure students understand the material, I typically do two things. First, I use a modified version of the Feynman technique (named after the noted physicist) in which I flip the tables and will ask the student to explain the subject to me as if I knew nothing about it. If the student has troubles understanding something, chances are he or she probably does not fully understand it. While doing this, I will ask the student pointed questions to make sure he or she truly understands the material. Next, I generally use brief challenging exercises that I write up to verify that the student not only understands the concept, but can also put it into practice.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
To make a student more confident in a subject, you have to make sure that the student has a solid grasp of the fundamentals. If his or her foundations are shaky, the student will never feel confident. From there, you have to continue to be rigorous and demanding in your presentation of the material (so that the student knows the material well and is aware of this), but without harming the student's self-esteem (my number one tutoring sin). Indeed, the tutor must be sure to explicitly acknowledge the student's progress.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
To evaluate a student's needs, you first ask the student what he or she thinks he or she needs. A brief diagnostic test will also often be used, depending on the particular case. Asking a parent or teacher can also be tremendously helpful here.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I always tailor my tutoring sessions to a student's needs. This involves presenting the material in a way that is amenable to the student's learning style. I am also sure to focus more on shoring up the student's weaknesses than on reinforcing his or her tried and true strengths. Indeed, there is a well known study that is applicable here. The study analyzed the differences in the practice habits of the top figure skaters. Those who were the best of the best tended to spend most of their time working on skills they struggled with, while those who were not as good tended to spend most of their time going over things that they were already good at.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
The materials I use during a typical tutoring session, vary by the subject. I typically like to use a mixture of official material--such as the textbook that the student uses in class--outside supplements, and some original material that I draft myself.