Hi! I'm Kayla. I am an undergraduate student at MIT studying biology and medical anthropology.
I love tutoring; I have been teaching, mentoring, and tutoring for almost 7 years. In high school, I first found a love for education when I watched my sister struggled in school. I realized that she, classmates of mine, and other students, in general, really benefit from one-on-one academic attention from someone they could relate to. So, I became a tutor on my high school's campus working with all grade levels, primarily in math. I also volunteered doing homework help at my local library after school, teaching all grade levels (K-12) in a variety of subjects. I went on to be a private tutor for one summer teaching middle school math to two 6th grade clients. I also worked for one summer as an Assistant Instructor with Galileo Learning teaching Intro Java programming to middle school students. When I left home to move to MIT, I worked with Tutoring Plus Cambridge creating STEM enrichment curriculum and tutoring middle school students. I also joined an academic service student organization in campus. Through that, mentored and tutored to low-income high school students and I served as the Director of College Counseling. In that role, I created curriculum to teach groups of high school juniors and seniors SAT prep. Additionally, we worked with them from start to finish on their college applications with everything from making a college list to financial aid and scholarships.
To be honest, schools can't do it all. Public schools everywhere are struggling to keep up with large classroom sizes, not enough teachers, dwindling resources, and a lack of community support. I know that private schools aren't always an option; my own parents sent me to public school. However, I did achieve a great deal in high school, and I believe that every other student can do the same. I think that success in academics really stems from three things: an unwavering work ethic, confidence, and parental support. Now, anyone can work hard and still not do as well as they want to. That is when confidence is key. Sometimes, students work so hard at home studying constantly, but end up bombing exams in the classroom or they don't want to ask questions, or sometimes they're even scared to try a higher difficulty level. It is very important for students to realize that they can do it and they can do it well. Sometimes they need a little extra support or a little bit of a push from someone else, but in the end, it has to come from within. No one can force someone to learn, even a tutor. I believe that it is very important as a tutor to understand the student and work with them to set large goals and process goals to keep them on track because you have to keep working little by little to reach a larger goal. I think that teaching styles must be adapted to suit the student and that alternative material must be considered in some cases. I also strongly believe that there must be a relationship between tutor and student. If students don't respect and trust me, I can't teach them no matter how hard either of us try. Finding the best fit between the two individuals is mutually beneficial. I also believe that tutors and instructors must encourage critical thinking so that material is actually absorbed and can be applied, rather than regurgitated. This is something that is a very large part of MIT's teaching philosophy as well. You are unprepared to perform if you don't have a true grasp of the information given to you whether that is in the classroom during a test or in the real world when working on a project.
I know that I wouldn't be where I am today without my parents, great teachers, and anyone else who helped me along the way. I want to be able to help, even just a little bit. I love teaching and I love working with students and I love watching others realize their own potential. I hope that you can get a sense of my great passion for education from this personal statement, and I hope that you find the best fit for whatever you need support with.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Current Undergrad, Chemical Engineering
SAT Writing: 750
AP Calculus AB: 4
AP Statistics: 4
AP English Literature: 5
AP English Language: 4
AP US History: 4
AP U.S. Government & Politics: 5
Volunteering, reading, cooking, video games, swimming, painting
Elementary School Math
High School Biology
High School Chemistry
High School English
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I think that success in academics really stems from three things: an unwavering work ethic, confidence, and parental support. Now, anyone can work hard and still not do as well as they want to. That is when confidence is key. Sometimes, students work so hard at home, studying constantly, but end up bombing exams in the classroom, or they don't want to ask questions. Sometimes they're even scared to try a higher difficulty level. It is very important for students to realize that they can do it, and they can do it well. Sometimes they need a little extra support or a little bit of a push from someone else, but in the end, it has to come from within. No one can force someone to learn, even a tutor. I believe that it is very important, as a tutor, to understand the student and work with them to set big goals and process goals along the way, because you have to keep working little by little to reach a larger goal. I think that teaching styles must be adapted to suit the student and that alternative material must be considered in some cases. I also strongly believe that there must be a relationship between tutor and student. If they don't respect and trust me, I can't teach them, no matter how hard either of us try. Finding the best fit between the two individuals is mutually beneficial. I also believe that tutors and instructors must encourage critical thinking so that material is actually absorbed and can be applied, rather than regurgitated.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In a first session, we would sit down and discuss what they want to get out of tutoring: their goals and what they wish to accomplish. We would spend some time getting to know each other, including their history with a particular subject, what they've done well and what they've struggled with. Then, I would decide whether an assessment exam is appropriate, and go from there.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
To help someone become an independent learner, they just need tools. You can't give them all the information or the answers, but a foundation and a framework for growth is a great way to begin that process of becoming independent. I have worked with students before where I give them websites or books to check out, and I ask them to report back to me on what they did or what they learned. That way they had some sort of guidance and weren't lost, but they were in control of what information they were learning. Having students set their own process goals, ones that you work on frequently and repeatedly, is also a great way to help them be more independent. They set these goals on their own and it's on them to follow through. I just like to check in now and then on how it's going, but they are mostly held accountable by themselves.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Motivation is something that varies between student and is something that must be discovered. Even I sometimes struggle with my own motivation and I have to find my reason or way to push through. Sometimes that's a daily reminder of your big picture goal or it's words of encouragement from someone else. Sometimes, it's just a matter of remaining focused or realizing that sometimes your need a break or a reward system or music or real-world applications to make you care or keep you interested. It depends on the person and it takes some time to figure out.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
First, I think it's fair to ask about what information is difficult or confusing; communication is key and you can't assume you already know that answer. Finding alternative methods of teaching the concept would probably be my next step. There are resources all over that help with that, whether we use repetition, songs, just a paragraph, or information, is all determined by the type of learner the student is. Once we have a learning style down, it becomes a little easier to teach a difficult concept. Taking breaks and giving the mind a rest is also very important. So, if we're stuck on one thing, we'll switch to something else and come back to it later.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Making sure that they understand the concept of the main idea is critical for reading comprehension. What I like to do is have students who struggle with this read a passage or excerpt three times. Once, they will read it and write down what they think the main idea is. Second, they will read section by section and write small summaries of each section. Third, they will read it all the way through and re-evaluate what they think the main idea is again. Sometimes, they're different and we can go through why they changed their mind. Other times, it's the same and again, we will still evaluate their answers. Once that skill and concept is learned, it becomes a bit easier to then apply that to SAT reading questions or book reports or whatever else they're working on.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Trying to draw parallels between what they are already excited about (video games, sports, books, dolls, etc.) and the subject they're struggling in tends to help. Sometimes when they understand that the material they're learning may help them kill monsters in a video game more quickly or that a basketball's trajectory can actually be estimated in your head gets them more excited. Sometimes if the student is older, they care more about how this will serve them in the future; nobody likes to have their time wasted on irrelevant information. So, in that case, talking about careers or college can help them be a little more engaged. And ultimately, if all else fails, sometimes there are subjects that we just don't like. I don't care for physics much, but I study and practice anyway. Sometimes, a big picture reminder is helpful too, to gain perspective.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Short assessments are always a great way to see if they understand the examples you give. It's always a great idea to have them teach you the information back. I also try to pay attention to body language if I am teaching in person because some students don't like to be vocal about the fact that they don't understand something, so it's important to me to also understand and recognize nonverbal cues. Giving students problems that are way out of their current level and having them list all of the relevant information they know, and then trying to create a guideline for approach is also a good strategy to check for understanding. They wouldn't do the problem, but they would understand the general steps to solving it. Application, not regurgitation.