I have a BS in Chemistry from Michigan State University and an MS in Environmental Toxicology (focus on Environmental Chemistry) from Cornell University. I was an undergraduate TA for General Chemistry at MSU in the Lyman Briggs College of Science for 2 years and guest lecturer for a graduate-level Water Chemistry course at Cornell. I am currently a student at Otterbein University, working towards my teaching certificate for high school science. I've tutored over 40 students in General and AP Chemistry. I love tutoring because it gives me the chance to provide individualized attention and support to students.
Undergraduate Degree: Michigan State University - Bachelors, Chemistry
Graduate Degree: Cornell University - Masters, Environmental Toxicology
ACT Composite: 33
ACT English: 36
ACT Math: 35
ACT Reading: 33
GRE Quantitative: 167
GRE Verbal: 165
Fitness, being outside, playing with my cats, and eating lots of ice cream.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I have worked with many different students who learn in a variety of ways, so I am happy to break a concept down as many times, in as many different ways, as possible. I will do everything I can to make sure a student understands a concept so that they can feel confident applying it later on their own.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
With chemistry, word problems can be really hard to pick through. I help students identify the most important parts of the question by teaching them to create an organized map of what the question asks.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I spend time getting to know the student - I want to know why they are taking chemistry, what they'd like to use chemistry for, and how they learn. This enables me to create individualized plans for tutoring sessions that are tailored to their interests (i.e. students interested in med school will have medicine-relevant examples when possible). I also try to introduce myself beyond being the tutor - this allows students to feel like I am approachable, as I want them to feel comfortable telling me about what does and does not work for them.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I try to connect the subject to real world examples that she would be interested in. For pre-med students, I'll make example problems that use human medicine examples.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I have a wide variety of different assessment tools including quantitative and qualitative practice problems. Before exams, I also like to have informal conversations about the topics that will be covered. My students find that these conversations help them cement the concepts they know and identify the concepts they don't so that we can spend the rest of the session shoring up any weaker spots.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
If a student is struggling, I try to break the concepts or problem down into smaller pieces. If he can understand some of the smaller pieces, this builds confidence and the groundwork to tackle the larger idea.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
First off, I ask the student what they think they need. Throughout the first few lessons, I will have the student do a variety of different exercises to identify if there are any particular areas (i.e. reading word problem comprehension) that need work.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
For every student, I spend at least 20 minutes preparing for our 60-minute lesson. This allows me to think about what we worked on in the last lesson, what any issues were, and what we should cover next. However, I'm also flexible - if a student shows up and wants to cover something other than what I've planned, I am happy to do so.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I ask that students bring class notes (if they have them), homework problems they struggled with (but that they attempted), and any other class materials that they use. I bring along extra problems and paper. Each student typically leaves a session with a sheet of notes that I've written throughout the session to organize and clarify concepts that we discuss.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In a typical first session, I spend time getting to know the student. I want to know why they are taking chemistry, what they'll use chemistry for (i.e. med school), and why they want a tutor. We will discuss anything that they expect to need help with and talk about how I usually run tutoring sessions. I also set some expectations that we discuss (students should attend all lectures and recitations if available and do coursework outside of our tutoring sessions). After that, we start tutoring.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I believe in giving students the tools they need in order to learn, even if that means they won't need my assistance later on. I am happy to share resources for practice problems and concept explanations.
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that the most effective way to learn chemistry is through lots of practice. Thus, with each of my students, I will create practice problems to teach concepts, and will help them continually recall concepts that have been previously covered.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Finding ways to help students relate the material to their interests can increase motivation. If they understand how a topic impacts something they are interested (and something beyond chemistry class), that can be a powerful motivator.