I graduated from the Pennsylvania State University in 2012 with a BS in Economics with a concentration in international, macro and monetary economics. I first took economics because it was a required class for engineering, that quite frankly I didn't want to take. As it turns out I found my life's passion in my very first economics class. It is my favorite subject to tutor and I love to keep up my self learning in advanced concepts.
While taking economics courses I started tutoring by helping struggling students through classes we had together, and by word of mouth ended up tutoring a number of students in the economics department.
I am passionate about learning and took as many courses as possible in college including courses in chemistry, physics, biology and opera performance. I am also passionate about teaching. I live for that 'ah-ha' moment when you can see a concept click in a students mind. I believe in teaching not only how but why, and insist on finding real life applications to keep students engaged.
When I am not tutoring I work for the Navy as a cost estimator using my background in economics and statistics. I love watching sports, reading books, cycling, playing hockey, hiking, watching movies and playing the occasional video game. I am a major coffee addict.
My goal is to pass on some of my love for learning, help you achieve your goals and perhaps most importantly to see the real world applications of what you are learning.
Undergraduate Degree: Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus - Bachelors, B.S. Economics
Sports, Cycling, Hiking, Cars, Coffee, Reading, Movies, Video Games
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe in the old saying, "give a man a fish he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he can feed himself forever." The same can be applied to teaching. I am interested in always simplifying a given subject, and, rather than going at a problem from a how perspective, I prefer a why perspective. When students understand why they are doing something and learn the philosophy and approach behind a problem or concept, they can apply that to any other similar question on their own.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I want to spend some time just chatting and getting to know a student; this builds comfort and establishes a relationship. From there, I like to ask them how they are doing in their own eyes, and then give them a few diagnostic problems or concepts. Once I know where a student is and where they are struggling, we can figure out why and get them on the road to success.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
For a student to become independent, two things need to happen. Number one, any deficiencies in required pre-requisite material must be addressed. The second is that they need to learn not just the how of a concept, but the why. When students understand the philosophy and when to apply certain skills they have learned and why to apply them, they succeed independently in all situations.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
This depends on the student. The answer is to make it fun and interesting for the student if at all possible. Students are driven by different things; for some you can make a game out of it, but for others, particularly older students, teach them why it matters to their day to day life and bring real life current events into sessions. There are, of course, other ways, and I evaluate student by student.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Simplify, simplify, simplify. I find that, if a concept is challenging to a student, it is usually because they lack some fundamental understanding or prerequisite skills. Simplifying allows me to identify the deficiency, and then we can attack that rather than spinning in circles on the same concept.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
This can be a very difficult and frustrating situation to the student. So much of learning is driven by reading comprehension, it even opens the doors to creativity and critical thought. It is truly the cornerstone of everything. We have to get to the bottom of why; if it is simply missing the important information, there is a lot we can do in terms of practicing with short stories and questions about what was read. However, if it is a student who has fallen through the cracks and is a few grade levels behind in English language comprehension, or if there is a pathological reason for the issues, then I would recommend a specialist who can help the student far better than I.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
When first working with a student, you need to get an accurate understanding of where they are. If they have tests or assignments, I like to review them. I like to give some diagnostic problems, and I like to know what they think their strengths and weaknesses are.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I believe the best way to excite and engage students depends on the student. Some are driven by getting better, but for others I find it helps to relate the concept to everyday life. If all else fails, you can try to find out about what they like, and use that as a frame for how to approach the subject they are struggling with
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
My favorite technique is to give students similar problems with twists. This lets me gauge that they understand not just the how but the why, which is my measure of success. Even if the student struggles with the problem with a twist, we at least know they fully understand the topic that we were working on and why it doesn't apply.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
This has to be done from minute one with the student. The best thing you can do is just talk to them. You learn personality, learning styles, strengths and weaknesses in a simple conversation about how they are doing and what they want to get out of our time together. Reviewing past tests and or testing a few concepts also helps.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I always strive to be exactly what the student needs. The way I learn, the things I like to teach and pedagogy are all irreverent if they don't work for the student. I strive to know my students in a way where I can anticipate their learning style. However, as I have said all the time, my teaching still has its bedrock in learning the 'why' of concepts.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I prefer to use the student's materials when possible. If they have problem sets or old exams, that is a great place to start. I believe in bringing real world examples in as well. I believe that everyone benefits from multiple teaching techniques, so I always use a combination of letting a student struggle through a concept, working it together, visual learning, auditory learning and reverse teaching. I balance that portfolio of techniques based on the student.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
You teach them the 'why,' the philosophy of the subject. It is difficult and overwhelming to memorize a bunch of scenarios. However, most of the time, entire sets of ideas are rooted in a simple philosophy. When students find that 'why' they begin to feel they understand, and they excel.