I'm looking to tutor middle and high school students across the humanities: literature, history, philosophy, theology, social studies, and religious studies. I also look forward to coaching students through their writing efforts, having the tools to help them improve both substance and style. Having been inspired by a host of excellent teachers throughout my intellectual career, I'm anxious to transfer my passion for humanities to any and all students. I also love reading students' writing, as it can clue me in to their passions and make it easier for me to instill a love of learning.
I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, History, and Jewish Studies from Williams College, America's top liberal arts institution according to U.S. News and World Report. After graduating cum laude and with departmental honors from Williams, I spent two years teaching at Portsmouth Abbey School, New England's premiere co-ed Catholic boarding school. While at the Abbey, I taught two sections of sophomore Humanities (a Western "great books" course stretching from St. Paul's "Letter to the Romans" and Augustine's "Confessions" to Marx's "The Communist Manifesto" and Freud's "Civilization and Its Discontents") and one section of senior English (we began with several Shakespeare plays and ended with the novels of Dickens, Joyce, and Nabokov). Both classes required a great deal of writing. My Humanities students had short weekly essays for the small 'writing section' and longer essays for the primary texts. My English students, meanwhile, were required to write independent theses on literary works of their choosing. I enjoyed helping my students to conceive, compose, proofread, and revise these essays.
At Portsmouth Abbey, I learned that a teacher must make every effort to enter a student's intellectual world, to meet the student on his or her own terms. I have found a good sense of humor my most useful tool in this endeavor; laughter creates comfort. Moreover, comedy stimulates the intellect, as it appeals to reason (that is, if you're laughing at a joke, that means you've 'gotten it'). My strong background in theatre, improv, and sketch comedy makes it easy for me to maintain a student's attention.
I am pursuing a career in entertainment, and have cultivated a serious passion for theatre, film, and improv comedy. The photograph I use for this website is the same one I usually bring to auditions! I'm also a lifelong Yankees fan. My roommates and I watch as many games together as we can!
I'm excited to meet new clients and get to work!
Undergraduate Degree: Williams College - Bachelors, English/History/Jewish Studies
SAT Composite (1600 scale): 1500
SAT Verbal: 800
SAT Writing: 800
Literature, politics, theatre and improv comedy, film, baseball, Jewish Studies, theology, philosophy, teaching
10th Grade Reading
10th Grade Writing
11th Grade Reading
11th Grade Writing
12th Grade Reading
12th Grade Writing
9th Grade Reading
9th Grade Writing
Ancient and Medieval Heritage
CLEP American Government
CLEP American Literature
CLEP Analyzing and Interpreting Literature
CLEP College Composition
CLEP English Literature
CLEP History of the United States II: 1865 to the Present
CLEP Social Sciences and History
CLEP Western Civilization I: Ancient Near East to 1648
CLEP Western Civilization II: 1648 to the Present
College World History
High School English
High School World History
High School Writing
SAT Subject Tests Prep
Study Skills and Organization
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that a teacher must make an active effort to enter a student's intellectual world, rather than trying to pull the student into his or hers. Comedy (as long as it's a means to an end, rather than an end in and of itself) is usually a highly effective tool for connecting with learners of any age or background, and I have found success by bringing a good sense of humor to my teaching relationships. A good sense of humor, involving, as it does, an attitude of openness and receptivity, will usually lead to humility on the teacher's part. This humility will allow the teacher to say "I don't know" when asked a question to which he or she does not know the answer and to discover that answer alongside the student. Indeed, the teacher's most important task is not to have all of the answers, but to give the student the necessary tools to find the right questions.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would introduce myself, give a bit of my personal history, and state the goals I have for the student. I would then ask the student to introduce him or herself and inquire about the goals s/he has for tutoring. I'd ask the student in what ways s/he wants to improve and how s/he wants me to help him/her attain that improvement. Depending on the subject matter, I would ask about favorite books, authors, or historical time periods. Barring an interest in any of these, I'd broaden my questions. Knowing something about the student's personal interests and desires is essential to helping him/her learn. We might also play a few word games that I've learned from my training in improv comedy or figure out a first essay topic.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
The process of proofreading and revision is essential to becoming a strong, independent writer. I pride myself on my ability to pinpoint areas (on both the micro and macro levels) in which an essay can improve in a substantive or stylistic sense. A system of encouragement and positive reinforcement can boost independent learning prowess--I prefer to think in terms of rewards, not penalties.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
A system of rewards works much better than one of penalties. For instance, if the student performs well on three essays that I assign, I might allow him/her to write an essay on a topic of his/her own choosing. However, the method of motivation would primarily depend on a student's own interests: if s/he's a big baseball fan and does well on an assignment, we could spend some time watching highlights on ESPN; if s/he loves Justin Bieber, we might listen to some of his (age-appropriate) music during a session.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Try to get the student to ask as many questions as possible--usually the only reason a student doesn't understand is because s/he hasn't yet made the right inquiries. As long as I maintain my enthusiasm, a student will usually maintain his/hers. Generally, I would adopt an understanding attitude. I don't believe every concept can be mastered in a single session.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I always urge students to read with a pen. Feel free to mark up that book! Underline passages you don't understand, write questions in the margins, and circle repeated words or phrases. Reading out loud is particularly helpful for poetry, but it works for all forms. I also encourage students to find audio recordings of their texts to which they can listen while they read. This is particularly helpful for Shakespeare.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Humor has served as my most useful tool for reaching students. Making someone laugh is the best way to increase his or her comfort level. Moreover, comedy appeals to the reason, thereby naturally augmenting a student's cognitive capabilities (after all, one doesn't laugh at a joke unless one 'gets it'). I have also found consistent and detailed feedback, both written and oral, to be a highly effective way of improving a student's work. While marking up a page with red ink is not necessarily the most glamorous part of teaching, it's one of the most important. In initial meetings, it's also of paramount importance to learn about the specific student. What are his/her likes and dislikes? Favorite sports, movies, music, etc.?
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Visual aids can help immensely. Considering the heavily visual character of our culture--indeed, we are bombarded with images all day long, and sometimes to the extent that linear thought is precluded--it makes sense to show students images. They can be illustrations of literary characters, old political cartoons or maps, news clippings, or any number of other 'pop-cultural' relics. Music and radio recordings are also useful. A student will become engaged if a teacher makes a conscious effort to enter the student's intellectual and emotional world (rather than trying to drag the student into his or her own). Relating the subject at hand to the student's particular interests will make the teaching relationship not only productive, but enjoyable.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
A short and simple quiz (of no more than six questions) that asks basic, plot-related questions can give a sense of how much the student understands or retains in a given reading. Once the answers have been given, the student and I can back over them and discuss why the answers might be important. This way, the student will feel like he and the teacher are arriving at a truth together and not as though the answer has been forced upon him/her. The process of revision will also solidify an understanding of writing's finer points. Taking essays, marking them up, writing comments, returning them to the student, taking revisions, marking them up, and then returning them again are all part of this process. It takes time; there is no way to gauge a student's understanding in a single moment short of posing a question point-blank.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I like to spend a good portion of the first session getting to know the student: what are his/her favorite books, sports, movies, or television shows? What are his/her goals for our tutoring relationship? What subjects give him/her the most trouble? If I discover my student's interests, I make it easier for myself to relate the material to things about which s/he cares.