I wholeheartedly believe that every student can learn any content. This is not a catchphrase. I, for instance, greatly struggled with math as a young adult. Later, when I began to teach, I realized I struggled because I lacked a solid foundation and an environment in which I felt free to make and grow from my mistakes. Among teachers, we talk abstractly about "lowering the affective filter," but this is something we all know through experience: We learn best when we believe we are capable and when we have instructors who encourage us and make learning fun. This is something I pledge to provide to all of my students.
University of Chicago - Bachelors, Comparative Literature
Columbia University in the City of New York - Masters, Journalism
College Level American History
High School English
High School Level American History
SAT Subject Test in Spanish with Listening
What is your teaching philosophy?
I wholeheartedly believe that every student can learn any content, if they are given appropriate instruction.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
During the first session, I always make it a point to outline the student's goals and challenges. It is also crucial to pinpoint how the student learns best.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
The best way to help students become independent learners is to help them discover their learning styles (e.g., visual, auditory, etc.) This will enable me to tailor the lessons to their needs and create tools they can use to hone their skills on their own.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I would help the student develop a growth mindset through genuine positive feedback. Aside from highlighting progress through effort, I would also make it a point to ensure the student feels safe to make mistakes -- so long as he/she learns from them.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
When I see a student struggling, I will ask her to walk me through her thinking or explain where she gets stuck. This enables me to determine if the problem is confusion that can be readily ameliorated, or if we need to revisit a lesson from an earlier date.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Accuracy and fluency both affect reading comprehension. One quick way to see if this is getting in the way of the student is to have him read 100 words of the text aloud. If the student makes too many errors, or if the words are truncated, this signals that the text is not at the student's independent (or even instructional) level. If this occurs, I can help the student select an appropriate text based on his ability and interest. However, if switching the text is not an option, I can teach the student a variety of reading strategies that will help with comprehension, such as using context clues to determine the meaning of unknown words.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I always start my work with students by getting to know their interests, their goals (academic and otherwise), and their challenges. I also ask: How do you learn best? If the student does not know, I help her figure it out. Once we have that information, I can provide strategies that align with her learning style(s). For instance, a student who is a kinesthetic learner might enjoy learning new vocabulary through hands-on games.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Students who are struggling with a subject need opportunities to experience success. As their teacher, it is my job to facilitate them. Again, with their learning styles in mind, I will create lessons that tap into the way they learn best. Also, say my student is a soccer fan, I can teach her Spanish or English using materials that speak to that interest.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I finish each session with an informal assessment to gauge the student's grasp of the material. And, when it comes to this, I don't care for multiple choice tests. Instead, I have students showcase their understanding. For instance, if I am teaching Spanish and we just listened to a podcast, I might have the student write or tell me about what he understood. If we are working on a math problem, I am not satisfied with the correct answer. I want to see where it came from.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I modify my instruction to accommodate my students' needs in a myriad ways, including: pre-teaching vocabulary before a lesson; explicitly teaching the mental activities involved in listening; breaking down instructions into steps; and providing manipulatives for kinesthetic learners.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Instead of dry erase boards, I have students use paper and markers. This way, when the lesson is completed, students can utilize the papers for review. Moreover, the inability to erase mistakes is actually very helpful, because it enables students to see where they went wrong. I also make regular use of my laptop to share videos, auditory clips, and podcasts with students. This is especially important when learning a second language because students should be exposed to a variety of accents and voice pitches.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Students need -- and deserve -- positive reinforcement. This should not be baseless flattery, but regular reminders of how far they've come. Moreover, students should not only be complimented for doing something right, but also for taking risks and for their effort. Again, this is about instilling a growth mindset in the student.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Evaluating a student's needs depends greatly on the subject matter and individual goals. However, if I am trying to determine a student's language ability, for instance, it is essential that all four areas -- reading, writing, listening, and speaking -- are assessed. Also, different prompts should be provided. This is essential because language is learned in context. And if a student does not have the vocabulary to talk about a particular subject (e.g. global warming), it does not mean she lacks language skills altogether. To be effective, an instructor needs a full understanding of the student's areas of strength and areas in need of improvement.