Hi! I'm a writer and a visual artist born in South Africa and raised around the world. For the past year, I've taught and tutored students in SAT, ACT, and reading and writing enrichment in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I love reading, learning new things, and climbing rocks, and I travel whenever possible. The most important thing to me is movement: as long as I stay active, I'm happy.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: New York University - Bachelors, Art History and Politics
Writing, reading, painting, drawing, making puppets, running, rock climbing, yoga
College Application Essays
Elementary School Reading
Elementary School Writing
High School English
High School Level American Literature
High School Writing
Middle School Reading
Middle School Reading Comprehension
Middle School Writing
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Less is more. As a teacher, I aspire to let my students carry the weight of their instruction. The less I lecture, the more my students are figuring things out for themselves; and in the long run, that kind of information is more likely to stick.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In early sessions, my primary goal is to reach a level of comfort with a student that will carry us through future sessions and inspire a spirit of openness. In a typical first session, I want my student to tell me about herself, in her words, and on her terms. We might play a get to know you game (I always have a pack of cards), or, depending on the subject, take turns writing three short stories about ourselves, two of them true and one a lie, and then trading papers and attempting to identify the untruth. This activity allows us both to share personal information while giving me an opportunity to evaluate a student's ability to express herself.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Encouraging students to take responsibility for their education is my topmost priority as a teacher/tutor. I encourage my students to set goals for themselves -- to read certain chapters, or for set amounts of time several times a week -- and then check in with them at random intervals. This sort of limited monitoring ensures that they meet their goals, but more importantly that they know that they are beholden not to me but to themselves.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I find that it's critical to vary activities during a tutoring session or class in order to ensure continued motivation. In larger classes, I vary activities in approximately 20 minute segments, from teacher-led instruction, to individual silent work, to group work, to educational games. This is equally applicable in tutoring sessions. I think it is also important to get up and move around at frequent intervals; and above all, no matter the subject matter, as a teacher I do my best to express enthusiasm about every subject we discuss.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I start with easy to grasp concepts and build up from there. If a student is stumped, it's important to take a break, focus on a subject or task in which a student has more confidence, and then come back to more difficult concepts with that confidence in mind. Above all, I try to instill confidence in my students, and the belief that there is no concept that the student does not have the skill set and wherewithal to grasp, as long as she is willing to put in the work.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Confidence is always the key. I help my students build confidence by focusing on easier passages, in order to demonstrate that nothing is impossible. Reading slowly and learning how to break down complicated sentences into digestible fragments are helpful exercises. Most importantly, I encourage my students to read on their own time: from books to magazines to articles that appeal to their interests, no matter how trivial they may think they are.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Learning how to break down complicated passages into digestible bites is an incredibly important exercise. When a passage or concept appears daunting, it's important to find and point out the parts that are comprehensible and work outwards from there. I enjoy finding students' strengths, be they specific to question types or specific reading strategies, and figuring out ways to utilize those strategies and strengths in more difficult areas.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I love teaching, and I try to show my enthusiasm at every turn. Students are responsive to excitement: if I'm enthusiastic, then even if my student is struggling, she will remember my enthusiasm and hopefully let it infuse her own engagement with the material. Word and memory games are especially helpful in this regard.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Making sure that students practice learned skills at home is possibly the most significant means of making information stick. I play review games at the beginning and end of tutoring sessions, in order to make sure that the material has sunk in.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I build students' confidence by starting with easier concepts and building up to harder ones. I make sure to alternate between material that is easier to grasp and that which is more difficult. Taking mental and physical breaks is also a good way of ensuring a student stays focused and engaged, which in turn builds confidence by maintaining focus in the long run.