I've been helping students and friends to edit and revise their writing across multiple styles for seven years. Throughout high school, I was part of an exclusive magnet school for creative writing called the Educational Center for the Arts: in the mornings I took core classes (math, science, history, etc) at a public high school, and in the afternoons I attended college-level workshops in fiction, screenplay, memoir, humor, and poetry. There, I learned from published writers and edited fellow students' pieces, including college essays, for four years while developing my own work.
In college, I became the opinion section editor of my student newspaper. Last year, I served as its editor in chief. At The Justice, I've applied the skills I learned from creative writing to journalism and op-ed content. I already had experience clarifying sentences, helping writers develop a unique written voice, and keeping writing concise and precise, but through The Justice I learned how to find and support a strong argument, recognize logical fallacies in one's own thinking as well as in others, and conduct thorough, accurate and credible research. I also learned the AP's grammatical style guides inside and out, though remain a devotee of the Oxford comma.
While most of my work in tutoring specifically has been with middle and high school-age students, I've also worked with younger students as a summer camp counselor and a teaching assistant. I've also got a strong theater background, both as a performer and a viewer.
Undergraduate Degree: Brandeis University - Current Undergrad, International and Global Studies, Journalism
SAT Verbal: 730
SAT Writing: 730
SAT Subject Test in Literature: 780
SAT Subject Test in U.S. History: 770
Major film buff. Superhero nerd. Anime fan. Video game lover. Theater enthusiast. Youtube devotee.
What is your teaching philosophy?
I will happily teach students how to earn higher test scores or better grades, but the best way to accomplish either of those two goals is to learn how to learn better. Learning is a skill: it requires finding new pieces of information, understanding it fully, considering it long enough to develop an opinion on it, putting the new piece of information in context with all the other things you know, and then engaging with others about that information and your opinions on it. Tests and grades are just metrics we invented for measuring how well someone has developed that skill, but the skill itself and the ways one actually develops it haven't really changed for as long as people have been around on Earth. My goal with any tutoring session is to have students practice that skill, since the more one uses any skill the more one hones their abilities with it. I aim to leave every tutoring session with my students having something new to think about for a while.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
The first session varies depending on what topic I’m tutoring, what the student hopes to achieve through the tutoring, and what factors I think we most need to focus on in order to achieve those goals. Any and all first sessions will involve plenty of conversation to get to know each other and develop a general plan. If I’m helping someone write a college essay, we’ll probably start by reading what the student has already written, if anything, and then talking generally about what motivates and interests the student. We’ll work our way back to the essay itself by doing line-by-line edits and tweaks, as well as brainstorming other potential topics to try writing on. If the student hasn’t written a rough draft yet, we’ll brainstorm, and try putting down a few words on the page by the time the session is finished. If I’m helping someone with reading comprehension and analysis, we’ll probably start by talking about some recent book, movie, television show, album, or game that has captured their interest. We’ll talk about what we think the creators might have been trying to say with it, what it meant to the student, and why those two things aren’t always the same. If there’s a specific book the student needs to analyze or an assignment the student needs to complete, we’ll spend a while just talking about the assigned material in general terms before looking at the specific questions asked, to form a bigger picture.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I will never write an essay for a student, develop a thesis for a student, or decide that there’s something which they absolutely cannot say, think, or do. There are no right or wrong answers in a field as subjective as mine. All I can do is offer my own opinions on the topic at hand, but I will only ever do so after a student has given me theirs. Students need to develop their own styles to be good writers and their own lines of reasoning to be good readers, so independence is absolutely indispensable. The only way to be a better reader is to read more and the only way to be a better writer is to write more. Especially in the internet age, there is no reason for either of these things to be impossible. The internet offers a nearly endless supply of news articles, critical analyses, short stories, and more. I also believe there’s immense value to thinking and talking critically about movies, TV, games, and other forms of media. The skills needed to be a good reader and writer can be developed through many other inlets, it’s just a matter of finding the entrance point that both excites a given student and provokes them toward thinking deeply. I encourage students to come to each session with some new thing to tell me about, and I’ll come with some new thing to tell them about.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I think a lot of the time when students lose motivation, it’s because they’re feeling dragged down by the specifics of the topic or book they happen to be studying at the moment. Either it’s not interesting to them, it’s impregnable for them, or it’s being taught in a way that doesn’t work for their learning style. But it’s important to keep in mind that the specific problem dragging a student down is not the overall goal. In the long run, it doesn’t really matter if someone can figure out what the green light at the end of Gatsby’s dock might represent. What matters is if they can recognize context clues for deducing symbols in general, perhaps in a book they care about more. . So it’s important to remind a student of the bigger picture, and also to approach the topic in a new way. You can discuss media or ideas around the topic, or similar to the topic, to approach the problem from a different angle. If a student is having trouble focusing or feeling motivated for reasons unrelated to school itself, i.e. a personal concern, I’m always happy to listen if the student feels comfortable sharing.In my work as a journalist, I understand confidentiality well and take it seriously.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
The answer to this question obviously depends on the individual student.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Slow and steady wins the race. If a student is having trouble from paragraph to paragraph just following what is going on, then we take things paragraph by paragraph, line by line.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Unlike math or science, there are no right or wrong answers in English or writing.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
The more someone challenges him or herself or works within a subject, the more confident he or she becomes.