I was motivated to get into teaching by my background. I never lived in great neighborhoods. My father was a high school dropout, and my mother never went to college. Opportunities were limited, but I learned the value of hard work. I recognized that education was a chance to break free of a cycle, to avoid the same mistakes and regrets of my parents. I focused on being the best that I could be in all regards, given I had no idea what I wanted to do with it, just that I knew I needed to be my best. This is what eventually led me to wanting to teach. I recognized that my brother did not share this vision, and he also dropped out and repeated the cycles of limited opportunities. Having these experiences, I sought to help others find motivation and success.
While teaching in a classroom proved to be disheartening as too many students simply sought to give up, I moved to tutoring to offer personal help to those who truly desire to be better. Sometimes learning is not easy and you have to keep plugging away, and even if you don't get it right away, that practice, that determination, eventually yields results. My goal is to make that transition easier. If I can help students recognize what they do well, where they need improvement, and specifically why learning isn't easy, then the whole process of having opportunities for success increases. Will I be able to make learning "easy"? I hope so. At the very least, my goal is to make it less hard and helps students become independent to recognize hurdles on their own and how to overcome these obstacles.
Undergraduate Degree: University of South Florida-Main Campus - Bachelors, Theatre (Performance)
Graduate Degree: University of South Florida-Main Campus - Masters, English Education
I like to spend my spare time playing video games, hiking, playing Pokemon Go, and reading books and comic books. I played in local bands for several years as a bass player. I'm a fan of comic book movies and TV shows.
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is based upon the Socratic method and continued improvement. It is crucial to not just understand that a mistake was made but how and why it can be avoided in the future.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
A first session would likely be spent trying to get a strong understanding of current level of knowledge and understanding in concepts. Some material may need review, but we need to have a basis for where you currently have strengths and weaknesses to best approach future and present needs.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I try to find ways to make sure education is valued by the student. Whether that be through motivations for future goals or tips and tricks for remembering ideas that make it easy or fun, my goal is to help establish routines and modes of thinking to help students be able to identify their own needs. Once a person can recognize how personal thinking occurs and be aware of it, mastery is only a step away!
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I try to be as supportive as possible, but firm in the need for success. It's a competitive world, but I also try to ease anxieties. There is a balance between responsibility and burden that must be learned to shoulder, and I try to make sure focus is understood with the goal of how it benefits us.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
We will try to get to the root of the problem. It could be a need for greater background information, or perhaps some skills are just not fully developed and need practice. Sometimes it's a need for different strategies or recognizing that other approaches may be more beneficial. Recognizing that each student learns in different ways, I try to approach it according to student strengths and weaknesses. Mistakes can be the best way to learn, but we have to understand why we made our mistakes in order to correct them.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I find the most successful strategies are trying to figure out a way to see how our learning applies to personal value. Sometimes there are comparisons to make, showing why certain types of assignments are important to improve on, or even just helping to take a step back to notice a slight error that leads to other problems. At any rate, I want students to be successful, so I try to accommodate my approaches towards that end.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Showing how work can be meaningful is usually the best approach. If you can find reasons to love what you do, everything you do has some importance. Sometimes learning can be fun. Sometimes, it's just rewarding to overcome obstacles you didn't think you could. Rewards for our work are personal to our desires, so I try to make that connection.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading can be difficult, but it doesn't have to be. Practice is key, and the best practice is reading things you enjoy. Whether this is magazines, fan fiction, whatever... and then using resources to help with understanding (dictionary, thesaurus, etc.) with the goal of increasing levels of difficulty. Eventually that practice--recognition of how ideas are presented, why they are important to readers... that can make whole new worlds appear!
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I find that the most important way to show understanding is explanations of how and why. If you can provide insight into the details that are not obvious, you are well on your way to becoming a master of subject areas!
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
When a student can really see connections, see how quality of work improves, depth of understanding increases--that's something special. I want students to reach that level. I want them to know that it's not out of reach. It's usually closer than realized. We'll start with each victory we have together, but we have a goal to really excel in the end!
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Communication is important. Chief among that is the importance of honesty. The more honest a student is about whether they understand, specific about why they don't understand, or even humble enough to ask for help, those are steps towards making it easier for me to help you! I have a lot of strategies to help improve, but first we need to understand where weaknesses are so that we have an easier time to approach turning those into strengths.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Every student learns differently. Certainly if one approach doesn't work, we can try others. At the same time, we don't want to rely only on a single way to learn. If we get too comfortable in relying on a single method, if that method fails us, we need to be able to see things in another way; approach it from a new angle. Graphic organizers, games, visual approaches, journals... there are many things we can do depending on our types of assignments. The important thing is that we try several paths to success.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
As a focus on English skills, I often make use of tools that I am familiar with, but I can adapt to the materials a student has too. Whether that be print versions or electronic, the key is about understanding concepts in how we communicate with each other. There are lots of tools available, but I want to make sure that we are using reliable sources to help us out.