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Teaching is not a one size fits all endeavor. The teacher must learn from the student their interests, skills and learning preferences. It is then up to the teacher to provide a learning environment unique to that student which will not only show the student how they best acquire new information but also show them how to take that new information and apply it to the one size fits all testing environments found in many schools and colleges. One cannot teach another unless she is willing to learn from her students.

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Susan’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: University of Houston - Bachelors, Anthropology

Graduate Degree: University of Massachusetts-Boston - Masters, Education, Secondary Social Studies

State Certified Teacher


Cassandra Clare, Suzanne Collins, Sarah J Maas, and Veronica Roth. I also enjoy watching movies in those genres. I enjoy going to concerts, my taste in music is very eclectic. I love animals and volunteer at a no kill shelter near where I live. I am also in the process of writing four science fiction novels that I hope to see published one day.

Tutoring Subjects

College Application Essays

College Geography

College Level American History

College World History

Elementary School Reading


English Grammar and Syntax

European History


High School English

High School Geography

High School Level American History

High School World History

High School Writing


HSPT Verbal


ISEE-Upper Level Reading Comprehension

ISEE-Upper Level Verbal Reasoning

ISEE-Upper Level Writing



Social Sciences

Social Studies

Spelling Bee


Study Skills

Study Skills and Organization

Test Prep

World History


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I became a teacher for two primary reasons. First and foremost is because of my fifth-grade teacher who took a very shy and introverted girl and made her feel special and important. I decided to earn my Master of Education degree after working in the corporate world and seeing a great disparity in the values I was brought up with and the values demonstrated by both consumers and businesses. My father always tells me that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. So, I enrolled in graduate school to become a teacher. In the last 18 years as an educator, I've striven to make each student understand their uniqueness and importance while hopefully providing a model of a person who knows their values and honors them each day. I chose social studies because history is a great love of mine and easier to sell than Shakespeare (another love of mine). I firmly believe that it is the relationship and mutual respect between teacher and student that is the key to excellent teaching, not the subject matter. I always want to learn about each student, their interests and their strengths, because once we understand and respect each other, anything is possible.

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

In a typical first session, I would have a student fill out a multiple intelligence survey, an interest inventory, and a learning styles inventory. Then, I would share mine with the student and discuss what their results say about them. We would spend quite a bit of time discussing what the student's goals are for attending tutoring, beyond passing a test, and devise a plan of action based on the results of their inventories and how we can work together to achieve their goals. Then, we would get to it.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

As mentioned before, once the plan of action is in place, we would work towards successful individual learning based on the inventories we discussed and the way the student best internalizes new information. We would practice a variety strategies that have proven successful in the past, until the student can successfully internalize new information by his or her self. Then, we would move on to part two, which is how to use that information they have internalized to transfer their acquired knowledge to the standardized or objective testing platform which is used in most schools and universities. Once they can transfer their knowledge successfully without my help, they can accomplish whatever they wish to.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

It all goes back to knowing that student's inventory answer and devising/using strategies that fit them best. For example, I had a World Geography student who I could tell was very intelligent by the sarcastic comments he made, but who was struggling academically in my class. I had noticed he was very artistic, since he would draw in his notebook instead of taking notes. So, I asked him to help me by going over my presentations and choosing the pictures that best conveyed the information or having him draw them in a paint program and upload them to the presentation. Pretty soon, not only were his scores going up (because I also allowed him to take his assessments with me after school where he would express his answer in artwork, and then explain to me how it answered the question) but also he began asking for information on the next unit beforehand and working on it at home! When it came time to prepare for his English and Biology End of Course exams, we practiced after school with released tests, and, since students can write in their test booklets, we worked on his drawing his understanding of the question and what he expected the answer to be, and then analyze the distractors and choose the correct answer. That's just an example, of course, so the student and I would work on strategies together, practicing and refining them to the individual.

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

I have several methods that I use, depending on the particular situation (and, of course, the student's strengths). Some students struggle to read because lack of vocabulary, some because they have a hard time paying attention, some because they are English Language learners, and still some due to learning disabilities. Sometimes, it is a combination. Again, I would assess that student's skills and devise a plan of attack based on the particular problem that student is having. There is no one size fits all for reading comprehension, as there isn't one for teaching either. For those lacking vocabulary, I like the Frayer model which asks for the literal definition, and then a definition in their own words (which I help with until they can do it independently), an example of the meaning or a student composed sentence that shows the meaning of the word and a picture. Sometimes, I change it up with synonyms and antonyms depending on the situation.

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

Again, the most essential part of working one on one with a student is to have them take the inventories I mentioned before, and then we discuss them, address any questions or concerns the student has, and then try out several until we have half a dozen or so that the student likes best.

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

I've been there myself as a student with math. It’s best to get a student engaged with their learning, and once they earn success, I've found that excitement comes along. To get a student engaged, you have to help them see how it's relevant to their lives, provide real world examples, and help them find their own examples. After relevance, we need to find out the most effective reinforcers (intrinsic or extrinsic or a combination) and guide the student to provide their own reinforcers, even if they are extrinsically motivated.

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

Again, that is specific to the student. I am adept at developing differentiated learning materials as well as assessment materials. I usually provide some choices based on their skills and interests. I've had students who were verbally and visually inclined to write stories, poetry, song or raps, or children's books, all which must include a set of talking points that demonstrate their understanding of the material. I have the artistically inclined create art, and then explain how the art relates to mastery based on those talking points. I've paired kids up one to write and one to demonstrate in the form of a play, screenplay, music video, or fake talk show, whatever interests them the most. After mastery is demonstrated, then we work on how to transfer that knowledge to the standardized format.

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

Students are always convinced at first that they are capable of being a successful student. When I'm working one on one with a student and I know that student, I start out more as the "teacher as purveyor of knowledge," and then we slowly move towards the student being an independent learner who is soon teaching the teacher. I do this by working with the student to devise a plan of action with each step of the plan moving from the beginning of the teacher as teacher to teacher as learner spectrum. There are rewards and recognition built in, but by the end, when the student has built upon each success, their confidence builds itself. A good analogy is when a parent is teaching a reluctant child to ride a bike. The parent runs along the child, holding the back of the bike, and as the student gains confidence, the parent continues to hold on to the back of the bike, but let’s go for longer and longer periods until the child realizes they can ride the bike and tells the parent "OK, I can do it myself now, let go."

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

Primarily by speaking with the student and asking them why they are struggling. I also use a Multiple Intelligence assessment, a learning styles inventory, and an interest inventory. We discuss the results and what it means to the student in regards to the best ways for them to acquire academic information. I would also go over some of the work that the student has that they were struggling with and ask them why they picked each answer to see how their thought patterns guide them.

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

Again, I use the various inventories I've mentioned before and use strategies that best help the student acquire new information, and then show them how to transfer that information to a standardized testing format.

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

I have a variety of things that I would bring, depending on the student's needs. Dinah Zike's foldables work at all levels, so I would also bring construction paper, blank paper, colored pencils and markers, and glue sticks. Also, sample tests and/or questions for the area they need help with. I have several hands-on games I've created for various subjects as well as manipulatives I've created for many subjects. When working with a student, if the student needs something that I didn't already have, I would create some. Those are just a few examples.

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