I attended the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, where I studied History and French/Francophone Studies. I specialized in modern Europe within my history major, and I took a particular interest to eastern Europe. Being of Ukrainian origin, I found it so motivating and meaningful to study something that directly related to who I am. I began studying French in high school and developed a passion for language learning, so I decided to carry that desire into my time at Notre Dame.
Upon graduation, I returned immediately to Notre Dame for graduate school, which was operated through an on-campus institution called the Alliance for Catholic Education. The Alliance offers a two-year teaching fellowship and Master's of Education program. Upon joining the Alliance, I was stationed in Biloxi, Mississippi, where I taught high school French (for two years), all the while completing graduate-level coursework for my master's degree.
Currently, I work in Academic Support Services, offering personalized attention, direction, and management to students who need to find their footing in a new academic environment.
I'm very passionate about helping all students, forI believe that all students have unique gifts that they can contribute to our society and to our world. A foreign language educator by trade, I've internalized the beauty and importance of diversity. In relation to educational pedagogy, I believe that differentiation should be a natural part of instruction. In doing so, you can tailor your teaching and relationship to each unique student, thus allowing them to feel comfortable and empowered to demonstrate their abilities. I adore the humanities and am comfortable tutoring in any area within the field. My specializations, however, lie in reading, writing, public speaking, and French as a foreign language.
Outside of academia, I love to travel and visit foreign places. I believe that so much can be learned from having new and foreign experiences. I enjoy reading, listening to music, and outdoor activities such as camping, mountain biking, and walking. I'm athletic and enjoy soccer, basketball, running, and weightlifting. Lastly, I'm a sports fanatic and passionately root for my favorite teams!
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Notre Dame - Bachelors, History/French and Francophone Studies
Graduate Degree: University of Notre Dame - Masters, K-12 Education (Foreign Language Specialization)
Studying, learning, reading, listening to the radio and music, watching movies, talking on the phone with friends and families, traveling, and so much more!
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is based upon sincere, supportive, and interactive engagement. A foreign language teacher by trade, I believe that learning occurs when one partakes in the lessons being discussed, and not simply passively receiving information. The lessons can sink in by doing, by creating, by analyzing, by questioning, by speaking, and by teaching someone else. Still, that natural differentiation ensures that we'll tackle the information that facilitates each students' preferred mode of learning in one way or another .
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I'd like to get to know the student first. I can better understand them by learning their struggles, their hopes and dreams, and their academic goals, and thus better serve them. Plus a good working relationship cannot be without breaking the ice and getting a concrete actionable plan in place. Setting up an attack strategy for our specific goals will help guide our time in between sessions and our subsequent meetings.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I really enjoy the book "Drive" by Daniel Pink. In the book he states that what individuals need in order to be motivated is to feel autonomous, to feel as if they are mastering (or have mastered) the work, and the sense of working towards a higher purpose. I'd do all that I can for us to work within this framework, and get us to an area of appreciating progress. Every inch of progress should encourage us to continue on, and at the conclusion of each session we should be better than when we started. The notion of working towards a higher purpose will be established at our first session when we set our goals. Moving towards mastery comes with the work of each session. Lastly, autonomy will come after constant encouragement, support, and modeling. Through this work, I can fade my instruction and watch my student work independently. Once that switch begins, the students can begin to see himself making little accomplishments on his/her own, and thus hopefully encouraging him/her to be an independent learner.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
As mentioned in a previous question, staying motivated will surround that higher purpose that we establish at our first meeting. Working with a purpose in mind, or towards a certain goal, is essential to feeling motivated in one's work. Mindlessly working is draining, and can often dissuade someone from furthering their studies. However, with a sense of direction and working towards a feeling of mastering the material, we can build a solid foundation upon which to build. Undoubtedly there will be some stumbles along the way. Certainly, even with a goal in mind, at times we will not feel motivated. However, as long as we have a goal or purpose to keep coming back to, we'll always return to that and work within the framework of striving for a higher purpose.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Breaking things down as simply as one can is the best place to start. Sometimes students just need an extra explanation in a simplified manner. Guided practice while simultaneously modeling successful strategies can help a student gain some momentum and confidence. If a student continues to struggle we'll need to address how the student learns. By identifying their preferred learning style, I can differentiate my instruction to suit their specific needs. For example, if verbally explaining things does not work for my student, and they naturally prefer doing or seeing the lesson, we can make the shift to accommodate their preference.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading comprehension is an active process. Passively reading, re-reading, and attempting to "think harder" simply doesn't work. What must happen is that we must look at every little thing that we do when we approach a text. There are things that we can do before, during, and after reading a text. By taking such an active approach, we can prepare ourselves to actively engage the content with the intention of better understanding the ultimate message. Some examples of active engagement are to recall prior knowledge that may be related to a text before diving in, thus giving us an idea of what we're about to read, making predictions, scanning and identifying difficult or unknown words, deciphering the title, searching for text divisions (eg. chapters, headings, etc.), writing annotations in the margins, imagining the story or text, creating questions with answers, explaining what we just read or what we still don't know, imagining the story to continue or how the information applies to our life or predetermined purpose, and so much more!
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
When I start working with a student, I believe that it is imperative to get to know him or her and how they learn best. This knowledge can help guide the type of instruction that you focus on and inform the specific strategies that you use during a lesson. Furthermore, I believe it is critical to establish goals. What is it that we're trying to accomplish? How will we know when we get there? How can we track our growth and continuously know how we're progressing? Reminding ourselves of these goals and constantly checking in with them will help guide each lesson, as well as what we do in between lessons.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I believe that it is important to see how each subject can have a profound impact on our lives. Being able to dig a little deeper into the purpose of a subject (rather than just focusing on performing well on a test) can help us uncover some cool connections to our own lives. We never know when a certain body of knowledge will be useful. I've always believed that the more we know the more we'll be prepared for anything, or the more we can impress someone down the road. We'll be thanking our past selves for putting in the effort at the moment.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Understanding the material is a constant checking-in process. I can see if my student understands via informal and formal assessments. Informally, I can ask simple questions and have the student answer them, clarify them, expand upon them, etc. These check-in moments can be a quick flash during our lesson, and happen multiple times. We can have more formal assessments as well, such as responding to a set of questions, or creating something on their own. A formal assessment takes me - the tutor - out of the picture, and examines what the student can do without any help. This gets to their essential knowledge and understanding of the material. Taken together, we can get a neat picture of what the student knows, and then continuously build upon that. From here we can get into much more creative, analytical, and even persuasive assessments, which all require an advanced degree of knowledge. A student can prove that they know the material inside and out if they are able to create something, analyze something, or justify something. Lastly, I believe that the ultimate way to show that a student knows something is if they can teach it to someone else. If I ask the student to imagine that he/she were the tutor and I his/her student, and he/she successfully teaches me the material, we can holistically know that we're in a good position of understanding the material.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Setting tiny, short-term, attainable goals helps to build one's confidence in a certain subject area. Typically, what deflates one's confidence is a string of failure, misunderstanding, or lack of support. With sincere support and direction, a student can get a more personalized approach to the material, in hopes of getting a better grasp of the subject. This, at the very least, shows that an effort is being made to connect with the subject on a more personal level. With some established and attainable goals in place, and with that constant support and guidance, students can steadily achieve success and feel the progress. It's that progress that can really begin to build a student's confidence.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
The knowledge of a student's needs comes when the tutor truly gets to know the student. Undoubtedly, the student will come with some predetermined desires and areas of improvement. From this foundation, we can begin to piece together a series of short and long-term goals (all of which are attainable) that reflect the needs that are brought by the student. Now, the student may have needs that he or she (or the family) does not know of. In such a case, these needs will typically arise within the first few tutoring sessions. For example, if a student is receiving tutoring to improve his writing skills, and we discover that he has difficulty coming up with useful words, we can expand our needs to encompass the newly discovered deficit of vocabulary. Certainly, there are some pre-tutoring assessments that can be distributed, but it is also important to be flexible with one's goals and realize that needs can change or be discovered throughout one's time together.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Flexibility is key, coupled with a willingness to try new things in order to attend to the student's unique needs. Differentiated instruction comes with the turf. Being able to work with a student through a variety of modalities ensures that you will be reaching them in a way that they prefer or that they prove to be more versed in. Still too, you'll be challenging them to grow, because they'll be receiving the information that they're typically not familiar with. For example, the student may be a visual learner, and they may prefer to see things written out for them. Identifying this is key to ensuring that they successfully receive the material. However, expanding upon this and challenging them with auditory material may encourage them to begin to visualize things in their mind. All of this comes together in an effort to expand the student's understanding of the material. When attacked from all of these directions, the student will be stretching learning capacity. By constantly adapting to what the student responds to the best, and challenging them with varied presentations of the material, we can find a sweet-spot where the student is understanding and growing at the same time.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
This will depend on what it is that we're working on during that session. I enjoy bringing a variety of materials. If we're working on a foreign language, for example, it would be great to bring fun and culturally relevant images that we can discuss in relation to our lesson. Having some class-level appropriate texts is great as well. We can dive into something, dissecting it together, or we can create a story or some text together, putting our lesson to action. Communicative exercises or activities allow us to interact, continuing our practice of the material. Hyperlinks to relevant and resourceful websites can spur on some discussion, lead us to fun games, or allow us to see the material in a different way. The possibilities are endless, and I hope to adapt according to what works well and what doesn't.