My name is Paul, and I am currently pursuing my secondary education teaching license. My academic background is in history. I received my Bachelor's at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, and my Master's at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. Since graduation, I have worked for Cengage Learning and have substituted at both private and public schools in the Chicago area.
I believe strongly in independent learning and in fostering a student's passion for knowledge. Together, we will formulate a plan that best fits the student's needs and interests. I use guided questioning to find the strategies that best suit the student's abilities. My ultimate goal, aside from helping the student get a good grade or test score, is to help them become an independent learner, with a number of tools and strategies at their disposal.
In addition to tutoring, I enjoy cooking and traveling. I am also a part-time comic book writer, with an ever-increasing number of titles available.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Wisconsin-Madison - Bachelors, History & Political Science
Graduate Degree: Brandeis University - Masters, History
ACT Composite: 31
ACT English: 34
ACT Math: 30
ACT Reading: 34
SAT Composite: 2050
SAT Verbal: 800
Cooking, comic books, movies, travel
AP US History
College Level American History
High School English
High School Level American History
SAT Subject Tests Prep
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that everyone has the capacity to learn - it's all about finding the right approach, the method that best fits the student. Working together, the student and the teacher should find that approach. By doing so, the teacher remains effective, and the student assumes some responsibility for their own learning.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Usually, the first session is a chance for me to get to know the student. We'll not only talk about where they need help, but we'll also talk about their interests, since they may be useful over the course of study. Hopefully, we can develop a plan of attack, and figure out how best to help the student!
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Above all else, never give the student the answer to the question. I strive to give them the materials they need in order to answer it for themselves. Perhaps they need to reference a particular book or article. Maybe they need to refer back to what they have already read. Sometimes, in writing, the writer just needs to read their words out loud. These practices foster independent learning.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I wouldn't expect a student to be able to sit down for an hour or more straight and keep focused and motivated; most adults can't either! We'd take breaks when necessary, and I would be sure to note how well the student is doing. If I notice their progress, they'll notice their progress.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Everybody has a different learning style. Together, we would try to find the best way in which I can explain the skill or concept. The student, in turn, has to be willing to explain which part "they don't get." When students say, "I don't get it," and "it" is "all of it," that is when we run into difficulties.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I find the best way to help with reading comprehension is to break the piece down. If the entire piece is creating difficulty, break it into paragraphs, then sentences, and then words. Somewhere along the way, we will find the snag. From there, we'll work up.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Have a plan. Know what the student's goals are, whether it's getting a higher grade, a better test score, or simply wanting to become a better reader or writer.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I've come across this issue many times. History, as taught in grade school and high school, is boring. It's the open secret of academia.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I would use a variety of tools to gauge student understanding. I use weekly quizzes to assess not only how well they understand the previous lesson's material, but where we might need to strengthen the understanding of the new week's material.