I graduated from Elon University in 2015. I worked interim as a fifth grade teacher in Randolph County North Carolina. While they offered to extend the position, I fell deeper in love with music while there (while solidifying my love for education). I decided to take music on the road while trying to stay involved in education in some capacity.
I excelled in school when I was younger and did particularly well on standardized testing. After working in a public school, I'm not the biggest fan of standardized testing as I watched students suffer from tremendous test anxiety. Whether it's part of your core curriculum, or you need help learning the ropes on some elementary standardized tests - I'm here to make it easy.
I've worked particularly with grades 2-5 for years, but I have experience working relatively consistently with grades K-8.
I've been lesson planning for three years, and often times engaged learners and technology make that easiest! I would be happy to help by designing a lesson and getting started from there.
I hope we can have some fun learning together!
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Elon University - Bachelors, Elementary Education (K-6)
Music, playing music live, athletics/sports, education
Elementary School Math
Elementary School Reading
Elementary School Science
Elementary School Writing
Middle School Reading
Middle School Reading Comprehension
Middle School Writing
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
We are always learning, all the time. It's just a matter of making sure we're using our time efficiently and learning about something we care about! My favorite question from students in public school was, "So when will I use this in real life?", because I will have an answer no matter what the subject is. Whatever that answer is, it will help us use a modified top-down approach to teaching and learning that will have us proficient in no time!
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
While learning to read critically and learning elementary math skills (and beyond), I always found the most important thing for my students to do wasn't to focus on what we were learning, but to focus on what we already know, and use it as a bridge. The first lesson will be very briefly evaluative followed by jumping right into what your child needs help with. Within 10-30 minutes of some example problems and discussion we'll be ready to hit the ground running!
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
The biggest struggle children and adults face in learning is almost always the anxiety that is caused by a fear of failure. I've watched many of my past students walk into the class so afraid of failure that they would beg with their eyes for answers to questions - but I'm not here to give you answers. I'm here to watch you fail and show you that our failures are just stepping stones on the path to understanding. Once we're ready to fail, we're more ready to go out, attack life (or a test or subject), and learn until we succeed. I never would've learned how much I love to play some original songs for a packed venue if I didn't learn to fail first (I used to sound REALLY bad and that's okay).
How would you help a student stay motivated?
First of all, progress in itself is motivating. When a student is learning and succeeding - even without a full grasp on what they're working on understanding - they will continue to improve and be motivated. Breaking big ideas down into small, manageable chunks is a great way to do that, but I'm not a bottom-up approach teacher. Rather, after introducing where we're going and showing examples of what we can do (in the real world) with the subject we're working on understanding, students tend to get very excited to learn. Outside of that, I make my living off of being an entertainer. I might not have a guitar strapped to me, but I'll always be able to coax a laugh or two out of anyone.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
If a student had difficulty understanding math compared to reading, my approach would be vastly different - that is in the case of the same student. There are TONS of variables when working with students, and that's what motivates me to continue! I need to learn about your child before I know how to interact with their difficulties. I would be insulting you by giving you a broad answer - however, I know that relating to them and trying to understand how they're perceiving the problem is a very, very important first step.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
When I was a freshman in college I hated working with reading comprehension. There was a specific student I worked with after school who had dyslexia and struggled to read at an elementary level as a 10th grader. He taught me so much about reading comprehension, and I realized the reason I didn't like teaching it, was because I didn't get it yet! Reading seems like it doesn't have steps to it quite like math curriculum - and to a certain extent that's true. But when you start to really analyze the student and understand their critical thinking abilities, things get much more practical. I would first isolate what our issue is. It may be that the child needs help with vocabulary, or the child hasn't found enjoyable, easy-to-relate-to texts. Depending on what level the child is at or which levels on the Adams Model of Reading they've mastered, I've learned a ton of great resources to make reading fun even for the most unmotivated readers - that's a promise from a 23 year old kid recently out of college - not that old disenfranchised teacher who doesn't like their students laughing too much.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Engagement - engagement - engagement. At some levels we're essentially animals, and we learn just like Pavlov's dogs. The only difference is there seems to be a lot more we don't know about ourselves!
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Two main things are key to engaging struggling learners. Number one, we need to acknowledge that failure is a part of learning. Number two, we need to realize all the times we've already been successful. After that it's all very easy. Applicable lessons for students that use their strengths and interests are no-brainers; every tutor will talk about that. What they might not realize is students have been told, "this'll be fun I promise" too many times before struggling. Too many educators focus on what a student doesn't understand instead of building on what they already do.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I've created tons of units using backwards design. The key part of backwards design is creating an all-encompassing evaluative tool before beginning to plan the actual lessons. Then, working to make sure the student understands each subset of the overall unit. The best part about not being in a public school still? My "tests" get to look like (and feel like) games. That is called a "summative assessment" in education circles.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I worked with several struggling readers in my classroom. We did a cool thing where they got to read lower level texts on the same subjects as their peers so they could discuss - and the articles looked to be higher level. These were fifth graders, and I was a little proud that these (particularly nosy students) never realized they were getting lower level readings. All of a sudden, their attitudes towards reading changed, and they had a level of perseverance and confidence that was absent before. I developed similar worksheets in math as well - it worked wonders for their abilities to learn as well as their confidence.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I've always loved teaching because I love the idea of exploring perspectives. Watching students work out problems, or struggle through a reading isn't something I love as much as watching them improve, but it is truly captivating to analyze patterns of mistakes and habits the students have developed over time. I've always had a bit of a knack for identifying where a student's train rolls off the track. Playing games with students helps them to do their best in areas that they want to give up on. Games work well for assessments of how I've done working with them, as well as tools to discover misunderstandings a student has and what things they've already mastered. Efficiency is the name of the game when you want to make someone paying hourly happy - and not wasting time on things your student already knows is key.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I adapt with experience in lesson planning as well as tutoring; adjusting based on student needs is my forte. Whether it happens to be that we finished a lesson early and we can push forward with clear, quick, critical thinking, or it be a strategy I expected to work, not quite doing the trick -- adjusting and thinking on my feet generally pays dividends. Adaptability has always been one of the top words thrown around about my name in the education and music scene, and I strive to continue that trend.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I used to use a SMARTboard in class, and I still have a plethora of files I can use on my computer that use the same program. But technology has generally been involved in all of my lessons. Beyond that, it depends on the subject - but as an elementary education major who's worked with 8th graders, I've used anything from finger paint to parent approved pop culture magazines.