Hi I'm West and I'm a recent grad from Claremont McKenna College with a Bachelors Degree in Philosophy and Public Affairs. As a philosophy major, I focused on clear and concise writing, identifying and challenging arguments, and how to argue/support my claims verbally and on paper. My other course work focused on writing, critical analysis, and political theory. I also taught myself web development and find my interest in mathematics and coding to be useful for Quantitative subjects. I've had experience as a Research Assistant for the Kravis Leadership Institute giving me insight on professional and scientific writing. I've also worked in the CMC Admission Office as an ambassador and the Director of Overnight Visits giving me plenty of insight into the college admissions process.
I love helping students because I find it extremely gratifying to be a vehicle to helping someone understand a topic that I understand. That gratification is what drew me to studying philosophy: learning to take concepts that I understood and break them down in order to rebuild them into concepts that others can understand is how I plan to carry out my life's work. When it comes to education and access, I was fortunate to have educators who took the time to break down concepts and explain them in a way that I understood and I've reaped the benefits of those early educators by attending an amazing private boarding school and great liberal arts college.
I've worked with students as early as 8th grade by tutoring younger students in reading comprehension and bringing their literacy levels up. My mother pushed me to read the newspaper and stay informed at an early age. Interestingly, what stood out to me as an atrocity was reading how 75% (at the time) of 11th grade students in Detroit read at a 4th grade level. I understood what opportunities those students were being depraved of and wanted to help students in the Bronx not fall into that category. Since then I've worked with students that ranged from 3rd grade to adult learners.
I went to public school until high school largely in New York City, but a few years in Atlanta. After 8th grade I attended Phillips Academy (Andover), arguably the 1st or 2nd best independent school in the nation and went on to attend Claremont McKenna College in Los Angeles, a top 10 liberal arts school that focused on Government and Economics.
I have a passion for English, Literature, and Writing and prefer to tutor in those subjects but can also tutor in high school math and below. Math is a subject that I believe should be less stigmatized and I wish I was given the confidence at a younger age to pursue quantitative subjects. Math can be understood by anyone, its a matter of figuring out how a specific individual comes to understand concepts and reframing the work to fit that mode of thinking. I've also undergone years of test prep: in middle school I prepared for the NYC Regents exams, the SHSAT (a set of standardized tests students take to be placed into the "Specialized High Schools" of NYC of which Stuyvesant and Brooklyn Tech are a part of), SSAT/ISEE (tests to be placed into independent boarding and day schools), PSAT, and finally SAT/ACT. I was fortunate enough to be a part of an academic fellowship which provided such test prep and am very happy to share the test taking techniques I've learned with other students.
I like to work on a two concept system: first is the understanding that I have a grasp on specific concepts and that students may be able to understand concepts the way that I do. This is not fool proof but is the most effective. The second is figuring out at a quick pace how the student is best able to retain information. Once I see how a student is retaining information, I find that having the student take the information and try to teach me is a great way to find where there are holes in the students understanding that still need to be worked on.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Claremont McKenna College - Bachelors, Philosophy and Public Affairs
ACT English: 35
ACT Math: 32
ACT Reading: 34
Reading, Personal/Narrative/Poetry writing, Hula-Hooping, Hiking, Web Development, Mobile App Design
ACCUPLACER ESL - Sentence Meaning Prep
AP German Language and Culture
Basic Computer Literacy
CLEP American Government
CLEP American Literature
CLEP College Algebra
CLEP English Literature
CLEP History of the United States II: 1865 to the Present
College Application Essays
College Level American History
College Level American Literature
College Political Science
COMPASS Reading Prep
Elementary School Reading
Elementary School Writing
GED Reasoning Through Language Arts
GED Social Studies
High School Computer Science
High School English
High School Level American History
High School Level American Literature
High School Political Science
High School Writing
Introduction to Fiction
Introduction to Poetry
Mac Basic Computer Skills
Middle School Reading
Middle School Reading Comprehension
Middle School Writing
PC Basic Computer Skills
SAT Subject Test in German with Listening
SAT Subject Tests Prep
Study Skills and Organization
Technology and Computer Science
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I think that learning is not best done one way. There are many different learning styles and methods that suit different learners. I like to teach based on the way I understand the material and discuss with the student how to fill the gaps in their knowledge.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
A small introduction between us. Ask what the student is hoping to get from the tutoring sessions. Figure out the student's understanding of their learning styles, and begin tutoring!
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Help them better understand how they retain information and how they manage their time.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I think motivation is a part of a student's learning style. Some students are motivated by large important tasks, while others are motivated by small easy-to-manage tasks. It's important to test the waters and engage with the student.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Have them explain to me what they understand about the problem/skill, and begin to break down that skill into smaller more understandable concepts.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I think some students who struggle with reading comprehension could benefit greatly from speaking out loud. What may not be clear internally may make more sense once the student vocalizes the information they have read.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I have found it successful both to give the student space to speak their mind and to voice their understanding of a topic/how they learn but also to get started with a trial-and-error approach paying close attention to the student's attentiveness/attention level and absorption.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I find that students are excited when they are able to apply what they are learning to things they are interested in: i.e. math problems about cartoon shows, grammar lessons on video games, etc. Or they are excited when they understand *why* they are learning about a subject.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
If the student is able to successfully reteach me a concept or problem, I find that they are able to successfully solve problems on tests or other assignments.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
With practice and teaching. The best way to understand a concept is to teach it. Having the students teach me a subject as if I didn't understand it forces the student to conceptualize the subject in whichever way makes the most sense to them.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Evaluating a student's need usually requires two sources: the student and a parent/teacher. If the parent isn't super aware of their child's difficulties, looking over homework and previous tests can be helpful, even course work prior to the current class. Student's usually have a good sense of what is blocking them if you ask the right questions, even if they don't know the solution.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I think first is to come to every session with a fresh palette. Every person learns and processes differently; they have different problems. I use my past experiences to decide how to begin engaging with a student and am open to quickly changing my approach once I've learned more about the student.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I often use a combination of video and print material. Especially when working with younger clients, it is beneficial for the student to engage with material I've covered using a different medium such as video or (writing) exercises. Using video for example allows me to ask the student if they understood what the video was depicting and patch holes in their knowledge.