My favorite teachers were my parents; they understood how to channel ambition, and, while putting me through demanding schools, were always there to support me. My mother read what I wrote. My dad helped me solve problems in math. They got me to understand that learning is satisfying. They understood what it takes to get through a Cal or a Harvard without losing your soul.
I've spent years trying to figure out what makes learning natural, as natural as a kid learning to talk. How do we learn to talk? That is a question I devoted myself to as a researcher. Then, I worked on the problem of how natural learning gets co-opted as the language around you gets more and more 'elevated' and you become 'educated', leaving your old, naturally curious self behind, and maybe, leaving friends behind. How do you use your own potential to make new information yours?
I've worked with many students one on one. I find that this allows the learning experience to be reliably personal and positive.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: UCBerkeley - Bachelors, Linguistics
Graduate Degree: UCBerkeley and Harvard - PHD, Language Development and Literacy
I like to read. Everything.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
You compete with yourself to learn. This is how learning becomes personal and a source of joy.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Identify strengths and weaknesses through careful analysis of responses to assessment. Also try to gauge psychological state/readiness and begin to address that.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Take a break, and then retrace steps until the missing information is identified.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Find the comfort level. Identify the strengths and weaknesses with an informal inventory to identify interests. I also identify worries and the first achievable small success that signals a different experience is about to begin.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would utilize games, races, and interesting things to read.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Preview title, headings, and bold print. Then, preview and scan for new vocabulary and define. Also recall previous information.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
By making it personal.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I inventory strengths and weaknesses in a structured but informal way. I ask students what they think they need to work on.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Every session I collect a sample student product and analyze it.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
The student's assignments and anything I can get my hands on (from an extensive library) that will directly support the learning they need to do to do well in school. Students are generally preoccupied with their performance on content presented in class, and that is what we will be focusing on. With math, I may introduce alternate routes to the same solution, but will always cover the way it was done in class. With writing, I may have a few tricks to share, but will be sure to cover the rubric assigned.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
By building into each lesson a product independently produced by students that is solidly within their current capacity.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I would show them how to pace themselves, take breaks, and give themselves credit for improvement.