I've been tutoring since I was a sophomore in high school, I love being able to help students better understand their coursework. I've taught everything from Music History to college-level Biology, I'm very easy to get along with, and I'm interested in learning about pretty much everything! I began tutoring 6 years ago, at the middle school level. I taught French, Mathematics, and Science to 5 different students that year, and quickly built a reputation as a thorough, dedicated, and empathetic mentor. During my college years at Yale University, I tutored more than a dozen high school students in subjects that included high-school chemistry, AP Biology, SAT prep, and AP US History. I have also taught over 500 students over the course of 3 years through Yale's SPLASH program, which allows college students to teach middle and high school students in both lecture-style and seminar-style environments. In that program, I taught classes on American Politics, the American Health Care system, Music History, and Biology. To this day, History/Politics and the Biological Sciences are my favorite subjects to teach.
The key to my tutoring approach lies in my experience with teaching (and learning) a broad range of subjects. Each student has a totally unique mental approach, and each approach is well suited to certain subjects more than others. To a student who is more humanities-inclined, a science subject may appear challenging at first, but can be made much easier to understand if the student can first be taught to think like a scientist. Alternatively, that student may better understand an unfamiliar subject if the subject matter can be re-cast in a familiar form -- I can easily translate a history question into a math question, or a chemistry question into a humanities question. Once these unfamiliar subjects are translated into a 'language' that the student can understand based on his/her strengths, that once-difficult subject becomes much more manageable.
The other trait that makes me uniquely effective as a tutor is the fact that since I have studied so many different subjects, there is no way that I could have been naturally gifted at all or even most of them. Indeed, I have found many of these subjects daunting and difficult at first, and have had to try all sorts of different learning/studying strategies to better understand them. Thus, I am able to understand how it feels to be a student who may be struggling with a particular subject, and can therefore be of better service to my students. I have found that being naturally proficient at a given subject actually makes it more difficult to tutor in that subject, because the tutor is less able to connect with how the student feels. To be a truly great tutor, one must understand exactly what it means and how it feels to struggle with, and ultimately overcome the difficulties of each subject area. I feel like I have that ability, and my past students have all seen dramatic improvements in their academic performance as a result of my mentorship.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Yale University - Bachelors, Political Science and Government
SAT Composite (1600 scale): 1580
SAT Math: 790
SAT Verbal: 750
SAT Writing: 800
AP Biology: 4
AP Calculus BC: 5
AP French: 4
AP Physics B: 5
AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism: 5
AP Physics C: Mechanics: 5
AP English Literature: 4
AP English Language: 4
AP US History: 5
SAT Mathematics Level 2: 800
SAT Subject Test in Physics: 720
SAT Subject Test in Literature: 700
SAT Subject Test in U.S. History: 770
Music, Cooking, Reading, Watching Sports, Coffee, Stuffed Animals, Food
AP US History
College Level American History
High School Biology
High School Chemistry
High School English
High School Level American History
High School Physics
SAT Subject Tests Prep
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
First, I would determine whether that skill or concept requires a solid understanding of other, more foundational concepts. With most, if not all subjects, complex concepts are built upon simpler ones, and having a shaky understanding of the latter can make it very difficult to understand the former. Oftentimes, students can be unaware of the possibility that they may not have been taught one of the more foundational concepts well, and will then not know why they struggle to understand the more advanced material. My goal is to clear up any such confusion.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading comprehension is all about figuring out what the author of any given piece of writing is trying to say and how he or she is trying to say it. This subject is best understood by 1) placing yourself in the shoes of the writers whose works you are reading, and 2) questioning the intent behind every sentence in the reading. Whether you are reading Tolstoy's "War and Peace" or just an SAT Critical Reading passage, this approach will be effective. Practically every reading comprehension question boils down to "why did the author write _____ instead of _____?" There are so many words in the English language that could describe any situation. We must ask ourselves why the particular words in the text were chosen. In every case, the reason is because the author wanted to create some sort of effect with those words. Once the student becomes familiar with this skill, everything else is straightforward.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
The best strategy for when I start working with a student is to develop a complete intellectual profile of the student, and then create a wholly personalized learning approach for the subject he or she would like to improve on. Every student is unique, and each student's interests/talents lend great insight into how they learn. Through my years of tutoring, I have become familiar with the types of learning styles that correlate to particular interests. For example, whether a student is better at math or writing, whether a student plays sports, whether a student works better at night or in the morning -- these factors all correlate to different learning styles and all must be considered in developing an overall effective studying approach. A large portion of my tutoring style is rooted in my unique ways of explaining concepts and connecting material across different subjects. Exactly how I make such explanations and connections depends almost entirely on the unique intellectual profile of the student, which is why it is so important for me to first ask the student these types of icebreaker questions.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
There are two ways to encourage a student to be more interested in a subject with which they are having difficulty. The first is to highlight the appealing, fascinating, and practical aspects of that subject. Oftentimes, teachers make little to no effort (or simply do not know how) to discuss these aspects. Indeed, a great many students and teachers are so caught up in the academic and test prep side of each subject that they lose sight of how that subject can be truly beautiful.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
In making sure students understand the given material, my approach focuses on two characteristics that are true of experts in any and all fields: 1) the ability to teach, and 2) the ability to answer hypothetical questions. If a student is able to teach (explain) the material back to me and can answer hypothetical questions about the material that I typically pose to him/her, that would be a solid indication that he/she understands the material. By "hypothetical questions", I mean the following -- let's take the example of the American Revolution. Real understanding does not come in the form of regurgitating information about when the war started or ended, or what the names of key figures were (though these pieces of information are important). Real understanding is being able to answer questions such as "What if France had not entered the war?" and "Would there have been a war if Great Britain had given the American colonies a seat in Parliament?" Of course, no student is expected to be an expert on such topics, but being asked to think about these types of deeper questions will better prepare students for exams, papers, and future classes than will simpler means of assessing understanding of material.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Confidence is built in two ways. The first is having a solid conceptual understanding of a subject, to a point where the student can teach the material back to you. Being able to do that does wonders for a student's confidence, as it makes them believe they have expertise in that subject (since teacher figures tend to be perceived as experts, so students receive a psychological boost if they can imagine themselves as teachers). The second part of confidence-building comes from doing well in practice scenarios. Getting questions right is not only necessary for success on assessments - it is also an effective confidence boost! Students oftentimes are unsure of whether their thinking process on unfamiliar questions is correct, and that feeling of uncertainty can really distract students and hamper their performance. Doing a fair bit of practice, accompanied by explanations of the correct approach to each problem, can drastically improve students' confidence.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I evaluate every student holistically. There are endless tutoring techniques and approaches out there and the chances of finding the right one for any given student are higher if you know more about that student. Most students have two types of needs - what I call "practical" needs and "foundational" needs. Practical needs include specific abilities and familiarity with academic content (e.g. understanding the concept of momentum in Physics). Most tutors do a great job of identifying and addressing these.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I prepare diligently for my tutoring sessions to make sure that my approach is fine-tuned and personalized to each student. I always like to have at least one introductory session that is purely dedicated to learning all I can about the student and the way he or she thinks. With that information, I am able to develop a unique tutoring approach that fits the student's mental profile. Then, I spend the days between sessions practicing my approach. For example, I once had a student who needed SAT prep help and was really interested in her school's Model Congress club. Having no prior experience with or knowledge of Model Congress, I learned all I could about how Model Congress works so that I could make lots of analogies between SAT concepts and Model Congress concepts. Hearing unfamiliar material explained in a familiar "language" was very helpful to that student. This is the sort of preparation that I typically do for my students -- I make sure that I have a clear vision of what their needs and learning style are, and I create a tutoring approach to match.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I'm an avid visual learner - I love to draw diagrams and other sorts of graphics to help students better understand concepts. This technique is particularly useful in subjects such as Biology and Physics, where being able to visualize a given problem or principle is essential to understanding and solving it. I also love to keep a computer around, as the internet has lots of wonderful images for the more visually-oriented subjects and can also serve as a quick fact-check device. No one can be expected to have every possible piece of information in the world memorized, so if a student (or teacher) is unsure of something, it pays to be able to look it up. No shame in doing so - after all, Einstein himself notably said that he never memorized anything that could be quickly searched/found in a reference book.