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I worked as a teacher for ten years. I enjoy being with students and helping them become more successful. As a former special education teacher, I am well-versed in the ins and outs of that world, and I can help any parent struggling to make any sense of it. (Trust me, I can talk for hours about that stuff!) The most important attributes that I have in regards to tutoring is enormous patience and a great deal of tenacity!

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Michelle’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus - Bachelors, Russian


I enjoy reading and writing.

Tutoring Subjects

American Literature

College English

College Level American History

College Level American Literature

Elementary School

Elementary School Math

Elementary School Reading

Elementary School Writing

English Grammar and Syntax


Essay Editing

European History

High School English

High School Level American History

High School Level American Literature

High School Writing



Middle School Reading

Middle School Reading Comprehension

Middle School Writing






Social Sciences

Social Studies

Special Education

Study Skills

Study Skills and Organization

Test Prep


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I believe in a student-centered approach. This is probably influenced by being a special education teacher for many years. I enjoy working one on one with students, figuring out what they need to be successful and working toward that goal. I believe in allowing students a certain level of choice, which can be important to many students. I've always been complimented on my patience and tenacity with students who are experiencing difficulties.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

Unless there have been many recent assessments on what level a student is functioning, I like to start out with giving assessments myself. Talking to parents about what they see and also talking to the students about their experiences is also a priority. I also like to get as full an idea as possible of what the parent would like us to work on.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Many times, the tactics depend on the age and temperament of the student. Recognizing and praising a student's initiative (however minor) can be important. Increasing the level of confidence in a troubled subject works well. Allowing the student to make choices in tutoring sessions often goes a long way as well. In extreme cases of incredibly shy students, I have been in contact with their teachers to bring about situations that simulate independent learning but are really carefully orchestrated.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Praise generally works well, depending on the age and temperament of the student. I'm not above giving prizes and other privileges.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

Students are helped by figuring out what skills they need help in (phonemic awareness, blending, vocabulary) and explicitly targeting those skills.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

It depends on the student. I find that keeping in mind the learning style, personal preferences, and temperament of a student is critical for success. I think students should be asked about their goals in school and what they are experiencing. I have often found that they have surprising insights. Each student is different and requires a different approach, but I have always found that listening to the students is a success strategy across the board.

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

I would look for little bits of progress and point them out. Depending on the age (you can be more over the top with elementary students), students respond to progress just like adults do.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

I usually like to bring up material in other contexts or at other times, because I believe that each time a student must remember how to do something or how something works, that information is lodged a little deeper into the brain. This was a staple when I was a middle school math teacher. I made up mini-units devoted to fractions that I sprung on my classes about every quarter. I think it is a mistake to teach to understanding and then totally drop a subject. Difficult concepts should be revisited often. In a lesson, surprising students with pop quizzes or other ways to check for understanding help keep things interesting and students on their toes.

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

Helping them recognize success is very important. This is especially true in an area like reading in which progress is often incremental. I generally have taken quick assessments that show improvement, such as Dolch reading lists or timed passages, and then share the results with the students. Praising often is standard practice for me.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

Their educational needs are evaluated with assessments and through personal observation. As far as their personal needs, that information is generally obtained through personal observations and through questioning the student and the parent.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

This is one of the reasons that I enjoy tutoring and working one on one with students. I enjoy adapting and figuring out how to adapt resources and strategies. Tutoring is only successful if it is targeted to a student's needs, and being a good tutor requires a great deal of flexibility. This holistic approach has always been a big part of my career as a teacher. I've had to incorporate behavioral, social, organizational, and educational goals as a special education teacher. I've worked closely with speech therapists and occupational therapists on our students. Going into different areas and learning new things is part of the fun for me!

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

This depends on the subject and the stated goals of the tutoring. I generally like using my own materials, but I've also tutored students who simply needed help with their homework.

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