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Brenda

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My tutoring career began at West Chester University, where I studied English: Writings with minors in Physics, French, and Computer Science. Because my studies covered such a wide range of subjects and I consistently did well in all of them, many of my friends would come to me when they were struggling and even paid me for this help. My official career started in my junior year (Fall 2013) when I became a tutor for Sigma Pi Sigma, the Physics Honor Society into which I had been inducted at the end of my sophomore year. For the next two years, I tutored many physics students from a wide range of backgrounds. As I worked with these students, many of whom were convinced that they could NEVER understand this mysterious subject, I came to a realization. It wasn't that these people were incapable of understanding the subject; they simply were not familiar with the language used to teach the concepts. I found that if I could figure out the student's language (how they think and understand the world), then I could translate the concepts into their language in a way that they could understand. Once I did this, students often made leaps in their performance - sometimes getting to the point that they learned to translate for themselves and no longer needed my help. I applied this tactic when helping my friends in other subject areas and witnessed the same results.
By the time I graduated this past May, I had become convinced that anyone can learn any subject. They simply need to understand the language in which it is taught.

Brenda’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: West Chester University of Pennsylvania - Bachelors, English

Test Scores

ACT Composite: 33

SAT Composite: 2140

SAT Math: 680

SAT Verbal: 700

SAT Writing: 760

Hobbies

Singing, Reading, Hiking, Creative Writing

Tutoring Subjects

ACT Writing

Algebra

Algebra 2

AP Physics 1

AP Physics 2

College Computer Science

College English

College Physics

Computer Science

Conversational French

Discrete Math

Elementary School Reading

English

English Grammar and Syntax

Essay Editing

French 2

High School English

High School Writing

Java

Math

Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Office

Middle School Math

Middle School Reading

Middle School Reading Comprehension

Middle School Writing

PC Basic Computer Skills

Pre-Algebra

PSAT Critical Reading

PSAT Writing Skills

Public Speaking

Science

Technology and Computer Science

Test Prep

Writing


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I believe that any person can learn any subject. They just need to find the right language in which to learn. I concentrate on finding the language that makes sense to each person.

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

I would establish their general goals for learning and their level of understanding in the chosen subject through the use of practice problems. Throughout, I would use the discussion to begin understanding their background and how they communicate. Then, we would jump into the specific material for the session.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

I concentrate on teaching students the 'how' of a subject as opposed to the 'what'. In other words, I highlight the underlying rules that govern a subject as well as methods the student can use to think their way through a problem. That way, they are better prepared to teach themselves when presented with new concepts.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

The best motivation is self-motivation, in my opinion. I would figure out what drives the student and find a way to tie success in school to the goals that they have already set for themselves.

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

I find that exercises such as color coding and reading passages out loud can help comprehension. I also use example problems from practice tests to walk the student through the thought processes needed to analyze literature.

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

I start all tutoring relationships using discussion to teach. The back and forth communication allows both the student and I to figure out how the other thinks quickly so that we can get on the same page early on. Discussion also establishes more of an equal footing so that the student feels comfortable speaking their mind, which allows me to better understand when and how a concept needs to be explained.

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

Excitement is infectious, so I always make sure to be engaged in the subject that I am tutoring. Often, students don't like a subject because they don't understand it, or it's too hard or complicated to them. Once I figure out how the student communicates, I would use that to translate the subject in a way they understand. As they gain the skills to do well in the subject, they often become engaged.

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

I would ask them questions and present practice problems for them to complete. Once they can think their way through the concepts with little or no assistance from me, I will know that they understand the material.

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

Right after going over a concept, I immediately present a student with a question about it. Their answer, if wrong, tells me that we need to continue our discussion and, if right, gives them a sense of accomplishment. If a student is intimidated by a problem or concept, I break it down into smaller steps. This way, they can work through it. They often gain confidence when they realize that they actually can understand the concept that was so hard before.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I talk to them as they think through problems. By getting them to think out loud, I can see which areas they understand and which might need more attention. This also helps me to see how their logic centers work so I can predict which concepts might trouble them in the future and prepare.

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

I get to know them, their interests, and ways of learning. I choose my teaching style based on these observations. For example, students with athletic backgrounds tend to understand concepts better when presented in a visual way, and a student's hobbies can often be used to create metaphors which explain the concept in a way they understand.

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

It varies depending on the subject, but I tend to stick to physical objects when possible - a pencil and paper, printed passages and highlighters for reading, or a calculator if appropriate. I use a lot of practice problems when possible so that the student is actively using the concepts as opposed to memorizing them.