I began by tutoring students in Algebra and Pre-Algebra as part of a tutoring program at my college (called ARCHES). After four years, I still loved it--so I decided to continue in the field of education. I taught sixth-grade math for a year, but it wasn't the same as tutoring, and I missed the one-on-one connection and the ability to focus in on one student at a time. So...I went back to tutoring. I've helped many students improved their math skills and gain the self-confidence to continue learning, growing and even challenging themselves in math. I have found that I am most able to help those students who think they "just aren't good at math" with my combination of empathy, persistence, and tutoring skill. I also have a degree in English, so in addition to continuing to help math students, I'm looking forward to expanding my tutoring offerings into the English and Literature areas.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: California State University-Stanislaus - Bachelors, English
SAT Composite: 2320
SAT Math: 750
SAT Verbal: 790
SAT Writing: 780
Hiking, Mountain Biking, Medieval Combat, Woodworking
6th Grade Math
College Level American Literature
Elementary School Math
High School English
High School Level American Literature
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My philosophy is one of stubborn faith in my students. I truly believe that each student can succeed, and I try to infuse everything I do with that confidence -- by refusing to let my students tell me the subject matter is just too hard, by breaking things down and trying different methods to see what will work for each individual student, and by constantly encouraging my students and highlighting their improvements.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Typically, the first session with a student is about figuring out where the student is starting from--what the student's strengths are, where the gaps are--and discovering the best ways to fill in the gaps. I generally discover these things by asking a couple questions at the beginning--why the student needs a tutor, and what the student is working on in class--and then jump right in and start working on the problems the student needs help with. The gaps and strengths are usually pretty self-evident at that point, and we can spend some time experimenting with different ways of approaching the problems until we find one that "clicks."
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
My goal when working with students is to work myself out of a job--to teach the student ways to self-tutor so that if they run into trouble on a test or in class, they can help themselves through it. Once they get to the point of being able to help themselves reliably, I know they can "fly solo." Generally, I teach students questions to ask to help themselves break down problems into manageable steps, or to trigger helpful thought processes. I also help students learn little, but useful, ways to identify types of problems (this is especially useful for word problems) and what they need to do for each type of problem.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I primarily help students stay motivated by noticing and pointing out what they have done well and how they have improved over time. I also help students stay motivated by helping them set goals and by helping them see when they have made progress toward those goals. Finally, when a student's motivation wavers, I am there with a firm but kind insistence that the student give me their best, followed by an acknowledgement of when a student has done so. This joining of respect for the student's efforts, belief in the student's ability, and recognition of the student's success has proven very effective for the majority of my students.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
When a student has difficulties, I try different ways to explain the subject matter, starting with breaking the skill or concept down into simpler steps if possible. I use words, images, and objects to convey the information and help students understand it, until we find something that works for that student. If I can, I relate the skill or concept to real situations in a student's life in order to take it from being abstract and only about school and make it practical. This gives students the ability to make connections that will help them grasp the learning better during the session and remember what they have learned long after our session is finished.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I help students who are struggling with reading comprehension by pointing out context clues that might help the student figure out the meaning of the word or phrase they are struggling with. If the student is still struggling, or if context clues are not helpful, I re-phrase confusing sentences or words so that they can understand their meaning. Then, I review the word or phrase with the student, helping them make connections with the word by talking about other situations in which they might use the word.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
When I first start to work with a student, I find that I have the most success in both assessing the student's knowledge and in helping the student expand their knowledge when I ask questions about the task or problem. These questions tell me how much the student understands about the problem and gets them focused and thinking. Then, when I find gaps, I help to fill them in. I give the student another example problem, similar to the first, and we begin again. If the student improves, even a very small amount, I make sure to point it out and encourage their effort and improvement. I find that this helps students to relax and also leads to rapid improvement.