We are on this earth to learn, and to use what we learn to serve others. If you’re not doing these two things, you’re not living the full, rich life you deserve.
I got my undergraduate degree from U.C. Santa Cruz. A few years later I was in Rome, Italy with a Cambridge RSA certificate, teaching English as a Foreign language.
I’ve had a lot of other odd jobs that involved writing and teaching. Eventually I got a teaching credential in science: biology because this was the subject closest to my B.A.
I tutor all the natural sciences, as well as English/ESL. My favorite subjects to tutor will always be Italian, science, and writing. Italian is close to my heart because of the years I lived in Italy. But science is the most fun to tutor, because you will usually get to build things, or at least draw some cool diagrams.
I also love to teach writing because it’s so much fun to see the look on a student’s face when he or she realizes how easy it is. I had an amazing English teacher in high school who taught me a few simple formulas for writing. His shortcuts got me through an A.P. History exam, and they helped me all the way through college. I can teach them to you in an hour.
If you master a few rules and get enough practice, you can become a strong writer.
How you learn is a very personal process. Everyone is unique, and everyone has a unique way of learning.
One of the reasons I left my teaching position was frustration over the “one-size-fits-all” style that’s forced on us in school.
If you’re seeking a tutor, you probably prefer not to learn through the single “listen and read” technique that is the basis of most of our educational system. I want to help you learn in your own way.
Outside of academia, I’m interested in biking, travel, the environment, and entrepreneurship. I’ve volunteered for the state parks, Tree People, and similar organizations. Over the course of my life, I’ve probably traveled more miles on a bike than I’ve driven.
I once followed the route of an ancient Roman road, the Appian Way, across half of Italy on a bike. It took me almost 2 weeks and I’m writing a book about it.
I’ve also started a few home businesses, and lately I’ve been reading a lot of books on sales and marketing. At the moment I’m helping a real estate agent with his marketing, but some day I would like to run a bike touring company in Italy.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of California-Santa Cruz - Bachelors, Environmental Studies
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Listen to the students and find out where they are already strong and interested. Build from that.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I ask them, "How do you feel about (algebra, biology, etc.)? What would you rather be doing? What's the hardest thing about (algebra, biology, etc.)?" I come up with a plan that fits the student's strengths and interests.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I end each session with a take-away and a mission. I'll give the student something they can use and a specific task to accomplish before the next session.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I would try to make a game out of the learning with "quests" they need to complete in order to "level up."
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would try to present it to them in different ways. By providing pictures, analogies, or possibly by making a simple model out of paper or other materials to physically demonstrate the concept.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I would start by finding the reading level at which they are not struggling. Then, I would give them slightly challenging material to read and teach them specific skills to meet the challenge.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I try to get them engaged in the first session by surprising them or making them laugh. As soon as possible, I try to find challenging, but attainable, goals to keep the student from being either bored or frustrated.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would try to connect the subject with something they already enjoy. For example, math and science have a lot of applications in sports and gaming. You can find reading material about almost anything. I would try to find work that is just a tiny bit above their level.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I would come up with concept-checking questions ahead of time. I would try to have them present the material in a new way (for example, by paraphrasing, drawing a cartoon related to the material, etc.).
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I find something in the subject that they understand, and then give them a slight challenge to overcome. Once they've reached this higher level, I raise the bar with a more difficult challenge (but one which they can overcome).
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Depending on the subject, I might give the student a brief assessment around general concepts that they should know. I also ask them what they "get" or don't get about a subject and try to find where they are weak and where they are reluctant.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
As I get to know a student's learning style and level of proficiency, I can gradually introduce challenges that are slightly outside the student's comfort zone. This will be different for every student.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Colored pens and pencils, lots of paper, and possibly household items to physically demonstrate science topics.