I graduated with honors from the University of the Puget Sound, majoring in English and creative writing. As a writing advisor at my college’s writing center, I tutored over a hundred different students from diverse writing backgrounds in all stages of the writing process. I believe that dialogue and interaction are the most effective ways to teach and learn, both through implicit and explicit methods. I tutor so that students will understand why and how a concept functions, and then be able to organize it and analyze its different parts. My strongpoints as a tutor are in writing, but I also have a strong math background and love teaching all forms of math up to the high school level. I enjoy gardening and biking, and I also work for a local nonprofit.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Puget Sound - Bachelors, English
Jazz, soccer, biking, cooking, gardening, creative writing
College Level American Literature
High School English
High School Level American Literature
High School Writing
Middle School Writing
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe teaching happens when there is discussion between a teacher and a student. While it is sometimes useful to teach directly (through lecture, command, and doing examples), more permanent learning takes place when students practice mental processes and explore information on their own. I believe a tutor's role is to guide them through conversation.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In a first session, I would start by breaking the ice. I want to know who the student is, and who they think they are. What kind of subjects do they enjoy? What kind of learner do they think themselves to be? After this introduction, I would explain a brief overview of the topic (or paper) the student wants to work on. Then, we would pinpoint useful examples and work through these one by one.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
As part of my tutoring philosophy, I encourage open avenues of communication between tutor and student at all times. I often will not give an answer to a problem immediately but will wait for the student to ask the right questions to figure it out. This gives students practice in exercising the thinking pathways that make one an independent learner. In addition to specific knowledge and skills the student would like to learn, I would also teach skills in organization and analysis that help to structure foundational knowledge, so students can build on what they already know.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I would help a student stay motivated by providing positive and clear feedback on the work that they do. Acknowledging improvements in student work, no matter the size, is a great tool in instilling confidence and self-motivation. Setting goals is also a great technique, because this can help a student from feeling overwhelmed. Also, I like to add stories or big picture insight on what the student is doing, which keeps the topic interesting and fun.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
When starting work with a student, I like to ask what skills and topics they feel most comfortable with in the subject we are studying. I might have them start with a few test questions in these areas in order to get a sense of their foundation, and so they can work hands on with what they already understand. Or, if they are eager to start work on something they don’t know, I would begin with an explanation of a new topic, and then walk them through a few example questions. If the tutoring session is for writing, I would start by reading their paper while they completed a short task like assessing their own paper or creating a reverse outline.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
To get a student excited and engaged with a subject in which they struggle, I like to create metaphors so that the student can understand the topic in a new light. It is very important to contextualize the subject in a way that makes it relevant to the student’s life. For instance, if the student struggles in a topic of geometry, I would create a story out of an existing problem to give more meaning to the numbers and diagram supplied. Building students' self confidence in a subject one step at a time is also a useful method in creating motivation.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
To be sure a student understands the material, I would have them perform a few problems on their own and write out their process for solving them. I would include a problem with an extra component (or a “twist”) to see how they integrate that information to the learned topic. Finally, I would ask them to explain the topic to me like they were the tutor and I was the student.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
To build students' confidence in a subject, I have them make a list of the skills they already possess in that area. As we continue, we keep track of new things they learn so they can see that they are making progress. By verbally summarizing the list, they can also review while asserting the skills they already know. I also use positive feedback to encourage progress in difficult areas of study.