I've been teaching English for over thirty years, both in the US and England, after getting a BA from Vassar and an MA from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars. During this time I've acquired an astonishing amount of random information about everything from goat-raising and W.H. Auden's love-life to how to write a sonnet and decipher the symbolism in a medieval religious painting or a Japanese anime to the twists and turns of English grammar. I am happy to share any and all of it.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Vassar College - Bachelors, Drama/Film/Film Criticism
Graduate Degree: Johns Hopkins University - Masters, Writing
My hobbies are writing, the internet, the history of forensic science, knitting, etymology, and walking around exploring my neighborhood. I spend some of my time in freelance editing and proofreading, helping people prepare their writing for submission to publishers. I may be one of the only writers in Los Angeles not working on a treatment or a screenplay, but I admit to working on a novel and have had several short stories published."
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Make connections. The best way to understand, remember, and master subjects is to find how they fit together with other ideas and information. Try to address the needs and interests of each student so you can find the best way to make those connections.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Ask him or her what their goal is in being tutored, and see if we can work out the way most helpful to that individual student to achieve those goals. Let the student talk; ask the student some questions to get to know their interests, strengths, and weaknesses.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Show the student how to look for information, how to discriminate among sources, how to approach something critically, and how to make connections between what they want to learn and what they may already understand.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Cookies and honest praise have always worked for me.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I'd try to identify where the impediment is and try different strategies to overcome it.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
There are many reasons for having trouble with comprehension. The student may need help with the vocabulary or may not have any background or context to associate the reading with. I would try to identify the points of difficulty and address them.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I like to give them a questionnaire that asks them to tell about themselves by answering fun, unthreatening, and informal questions. It's also very useful to help them identify their goals and to be clear about my expectations, too.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I'd try to find or make a connection between the subject and something they are already interested in or intrigued by. Staying positive about the subject yourself also helps.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
That depends on what the material is to a very great extent.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I play to their strengths to begin with, and then show them how they can use these strengths to move forward to greater challenges.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
This depends very much on both the students and the subjects, but my first step is generally to ask what the students themselves perceive as their needs.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I get to know the student's strengths and interests so that these can be used to help tailor the material.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I have all kinds of worksheets, stories and practice exercises, but the exact materials change at need.