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Cass

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I am a recent graduate of Tufts University, where I received a BA in Anthropology and a BA in Spanish. I am passionate about foreign language learning and multi-cultural perspectives and I love teaching Spanish, writing, and test prep. I spent six months in Peru during my Junior year of college, where I studied Spanish, Quechua (an indigenous language), and conducted independent research focusing on the intersection of tourism and indigenous rights. I recently taught at a bilingual school where I focused on teaching math and grammar. I have also worked as a research assistant and librarian for several years, so I have excellent research and citation skills and I love working with students of all ages on research and writing projects. I believe learning should accessible for all kinds of students and am committed to working together to find a teaching style that works for each individual.Aside from teaching, I like to read, hike, rock climb, and knit.

Cass’ Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Tufts University - Bachelors, Anthropology and Spanish

Test Scores

ACT Composite: 34

ACT English: 35

ACT Math: 28

ACT Reading: 36

ACT Science: 31

Hobbies

hiking, foreign languages, knitting, travel

Tutoring Subjects


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

Learning should be accessible for every kind of student. No matter the subject, I believe in engaging activities that get students to think about material in new ways. I also believe that tutoring should be based on the learning goals of the student.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

In a first session, I'm interested in finding out where a student is at with the material and what their goals are. I would typically begin by having a conversation with the student about what they are struggling with, what they feel like they are excelling at, and what they hope to gain from tutoring. Then I would have them show me some of the materials they are used to using and talk about what styles do and don't work for them. Finally, I'd work through an activity with them to get a sense of their approach.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

I think the best thing you can do to help students become more independent learners is to help them find tools that really work for them. If they struggle with vocabulary, make sure they have a good dictionary and are comfortable using it. If they struggle with research, help them to understand how to evaluate sources and how to use databases. In short, I aim to help students answer their own questions without relying on teachers, parents, etc., to provide them with the answers.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

I think it is important for students and their tutors to have realistic goals and expectations. In order to keep students motivated, I like to track progress towards those goals. I also think it is important to take breaks if a student is losing motivation (not necessarily breaks in the sense of stopping sessions, but more in terms of shifting focus to a different kind of activity, especially something that is less overtly academic - play a game instead of slogging through another reading, for example. Either way, you can be working on vocabulary skills, for example).

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

I try to teach the concept in as many different ways as possible. In my tutoring experience, lecture style teaching often doesn't click with many students. So, I try to find ways for students to apply the concepts instead of just hearing about them. Reading is a really central part of my teaching style, but if reading isn't working for a student, I like to work with them to find another approach that might work better. I've had great success in the past with more active approaches like games and skits.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

First, I work with that student on building vocabulary. I like to have students keep track of the words they encounter that they don't know and then use those words in different activities and games to reinforce that new vocabulary. Second, I make students slow down and talk through the reading. Often times, I've discovered my students are struggling with comprehension because they simply aren't reading all the words. Reading out loud is my favorite way of doing this - younger students can't just skip over words and older students who might be struggling with comprehension of denser or older texts have to try to find the rhythm of the writing.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

I think most important is to have honest conversations with the student about their goals. I've found that students who feel that they are in charge of the session in some way tend to be the most successful. I also think it is really important to talk with students about things that aren't necessarily directly related to the content of the tutoring. What are their hobbies? Their favorite subjects in school? Their favorite books and movies? Knowing a bit more about a student not only helps them to feel more comfortable, but it helps me to create content for their sessions which is related to their interests.

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

I would help them to see ways that the subject is applicable outside of school. For Spanish, I've always liked to plan dream vacations to Spanish speaking countries with students - they may not like Spanish in the classroom all that much, but it's hard not to get excited about all the places in the world it might take you.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

I make the student "tutor" me in the material we have covered. If they can successfully create questions or activities for me and explain the concepts, then I know they have understood the lesson.

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

A lot of positive reinforcement! Any time a student is getting the right answers, I make sure to let them know they are doing great. When they are struggling with something, I make sure they know it is okay to struggle. I also make sure that both the student and I have realistic expectations about the speed with which they can expect to make progress and keep track of their progress with them so that they can see themselves improving over time.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I listen to what the student tells me and, if relevant, I speak with their parents or teachers about the student's needs. After I have a sense of where the student feels they are at, I start with some more basic activities and give them progressively harder activities until we find the point of struggling.