Teaching is my passion. I started teaching English to a Coca Cola Company executive in Mexico City when I graduated from high school. Yes, that was my first job. I really didn’t know about teaching techniques, and I was a little hesitant at the beginning so I took the initiative to improve my teaching abilities. Witnessing my student’s progress made me feel happy and gave me a sense of accomplishment. I took teaching courses, completed my undergraduate studies in English and started working as a translator for a Mexican publishing company. Since then I have taught English to high school students, children, adults, and later I began teaching Spanish to people from different cultural backgrounds and nationalities. I have taught small groups, large groups, military personnel, nurses and medical providers, among others.
There is one thing they’ve all had in common: the need to learn. All for different reasons, but they’ve all had to learn English or Spanish, or literature, or grammar, or medical terminology in Spanish.
What I’ve always found interesting is the impact teachers have upon our lives, knowingly or otherwise. If you learn something well enough it will help you achieve goals and gain confidence. Learning opens doors and teachers are the door-keepers. If you do a good job and are able to establish rapport, create a comfortable learning environment, and have the ability to impart knowledge you will have an impact on that person’s life. The impact of course, can also be a negative one. However, if you can effectively communicate with the learner and adjust to their learning style, you will open doors.
I think that making that connection defines the success or lack thereof of the learning process.
But my teaching isn’t selfless because I too learn a great deal of things from each student. Every person teaches me a new way of approaching a subject, a new vision of a culture, different aspects of the subject, in fact, a myriad of perspectives of the world.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
The teacher should adjust to the student's learning style and create a positive, comfortable environment to enhance the student's abilities and encourage him/her to actively participate in the learning process.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Find out their reason for learning something, their level, how to best motivate them, and then establish rapport, as well as try to create an action plan.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
By giving them learning tools and having them grasp concepts by making them easily accessible to them.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
By finding out what they like and present topics in an interesting, if possible, fun way that encourages them to find out things and apply the concepts or structures they learn to the real world.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I try to elicit information from them and guide them so they can arrive to the right conclusions on their own.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
To establish rapport and adjust the action plan and activities in the lesson plan to their interests and abilities.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
By finding a useful application to these things and making the student realize it doesn't necessarily have to be a burden, and it can be something useful and maybe even fun.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
By using real life examples depending on their own activities and lifestyle, with visual aids, internet resources, readings, songs, and any other teaching material I deem useful.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
By showing them what they can accomplish and how far they've come with positive reinforcement.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
By asking questions and through evaluations created for this purpose depending on the subject being taught.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
By finding out about their abilities, goals, and what they have trouble learning. I would also try different techniques to determine which one better suits them.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Visual aids, books, songs, readings, internet resources, realia, cut-outs, drawings, movies, magazines, books with related exercises, etc.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I try to approach it in different ways and do a lot of explaining.