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Tamara

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I am currently working as an Environmental Educator through SCA at Watkins Glen State Park in NYS. I graduated from Eastern University with honors, earning my Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Environmental Science and a focus in animal conservation. Since I graduated I have worked in the Adirondacks in NYS working with injured animals, at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in PA studying the migration of birds of prey, and for Conservation Corps in Iowa studying the migration of the Northern Long Eared bat. My diverse work experience and public interactions allows me to connect with a range of people with different backgrounds and needs.
I am intrigued by all realms of science, but have a special affinity to wildlife biology. It is immensely satisfying for me as a tutor when I am able to help a student connect all of their basic knowledge of science to understand more complex branches. I strongly believe that in order for a student to do well in a subject, they have to connect with it on a personal level. It therefore is my philosophy to help students to see how their studies can be integrated to solve much bigger questions.
I am a very energetic person and am excited about helping students of all levels reach their fullest potential. In my spare time, I enjoy things that keep me active like hiking, soccer, and volleyball, as well as things like reading and art projects that help me relax.

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Tamara’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Eastern University - Bachelors, Biology, General

Hobbies

Animals, hiking, sports, and traveling

Tutoring Subjects

AP Biology

AP Environmental Science

Biology

Chemistry

College Biology

College English

Creative Writing

Developmental Biology

Earth Science

Ecology

English

Environmental Science

Essay Editing

Evolutionary Biology

French Horn

Genetics

High School Biology

High School Chemistry

High School English

High School Writing

Middle School Science

Middle School Writing

Music

Other

Public Speaking

Science

Study Skills

Study Skills and Organization

Writing

Zoology


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I often remember in high school when students asked teachers what the point of learning ____ subject is and many times being disappointed by the inadequate answers I would hear. My philosophy is to satisfactorily answer this question by relating the area of study to real-life questions; therefore, providing the student with a personal connection to what they are learning.

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

After introductions, I would take a few minutes to get to know the student. This not only allows me to learn about the students' interests, but it further supports my teaching philosophy that learning should be connected to real life. Then, I would address the subject for which I am tutoring and try to gauge a sense of where the student is. This information will assist me in determining best how to motivate the student and what method of tutoring to use - discussion, lecture, interactive demonstration, etc.. Every student is different and it is imperative to find out what works best for each individual in order to aid them in reaching their highest potential.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Sometimes, when a student is struggling, it is because they are, in a sense, 'biting off more than they can chew.' Therefore, I would help teach them how to 'take smaller bites' and break down the material into more manageable chunks. Sometimes it is a simple basic concept that they may be struggling with that is inhibiting them to understand a more complex section. Another tool I like to use is getting the student to explain what he/she is learning is his/her own words. I have found that encouraging a student to work out a problem this way allows the student to make connections that they may have been failing to make in their head.

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

Getting to know a student individually is an important part to helping he/she engage in a seemingly dull subject. Some students are auditory learners, so having discussion about topics can help a great deal. Whereas others need visual aids to help them to get more engaged. There are also kinesthetic learners who thrive best with interactive elements of learning. And then there are many students who need a range of all three to get them excited. It all starts with forming a relationship and getting to know the student.

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

My material ranges greatly based on the subject and the student. However, some of my favorite teaching tools include visual aids, such as drawings and the occasional video. Especially when it comes to scientific elements that people cannot actually see, visual aids are invaluable. Although some may call it old school, another one of my favorites would be pen and paper. When a student writes material with their hand versus typing it, muscle memory combined with visual recognition promotes a heightened sense of recollection. A list of other materials might include flashcards, diagrams, and verbally resolving problems.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

In my experience, I have witnessed that confidence, interest, and knowing how to study are three crucial elements required for students to become independent learners. In the area of confidence, oftentimes a student may become disillusioned with one part of a class, plummeting their confidence in parts of the class that they actually do understand. Aiding them in regaining their confidence is the first step to this process. Next is getting the student interested. Subjects must be portrayed as more than just a bunch of facts to be memorized, but instead have some real-life connection. Finally, the last step is knowing how to study. Especially when dealing with multiple subjects at the same time, it is important to know how to compartmentalize and to know many different study tools. All three of these key components can be adapted for any subject in question and are integrated into my tutoring technique.

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

There are two things I am looking to learn when I first start working with a student. They include the area of the subject in which the student feels he/she is struggling the most and what method of tutoring best suits their learning preferences. I have found that it can be helpful to refer to a recent lesson and ask the student what he/she found most confusing. Many times, a student may get discouraged and feel that they understand nothing about recent lessons, when indeed they may know much more than they realize. This brings me to my second question. Finding the best tutoring method for each student is important to teaching them how to overcome challenges. I have found that tutoring to a child's strengths is the most helpful strategy towards ultimately helping a student reach their academic goals.

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

Repetition, diagrams, and paraphrasing are the three most beneficial techniques I have encountered in verifying that a student understands the material. Doing flashcards, lists, and hand writing information all are methods of repetition; the purpose of which is to help concepts stick in a student’s brain. Having the student draw a picture or diagram is another technique that allows me to assess how much they actually understand. Finally, when a student can fully explain in their own words, to the point where they could be teaching me, that is when I can confirm their full understanding.

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

Confidence comes through understanding, and understanding comes through breaking a topic down into smaller more manageable pieces. Helping a student to focus first on these smaller pieces allows the student to gain small victories. These victories aid in keeping the student from becoming overwhelmed. Once I have assisted the student in becoming confident in the basics, he/she is ready to tackle bigger issues. This method will teach the student a process of progression that can be used in any subject. Providing the student also with tools and studying techniques is an important part in boosting their confidence in their own ability to overcome academic struggles.

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

Some of the most frustrating experiences I have had with past teachers are those who only have one teaching style. If that teaching style does not work for you, you quickly are left behind. That is why I feel it is so important as a tutor to be very flexible and malleable to adjust to different students learning requirements. Some students gain more comprehension by talking through the material, others need to write things down and draw pictures. It is my job to find what works best for each individual. Having a large bank of teaching techniques is very advantageous towards providing a student with a dynamic lesson catered to their unique needs.

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

When dealing with reading comprehension, the first place to start is turning something complex into something simple. When reading a text, it is very important to have tools to know how to break down sentences into understandable parts. For instance, a student might understand most of a sentence but feel confused about a word he/she does not know. As a tutor, I would help that student focus, not on the word, but on the sentence, and determine what the definition of the word may be from context clues. Similarly, if a student is struggling with an entire sentence, it can be helpful to read the paragraph it is located in to fully to gain the overall message of the text. Reading comprehension is not about understanding every single word, even as an adult, there are words I come across that I do not know. It is about knowing how to use what is available to comprehend the question or statement that is trying to be made. And it is my job as a tutor to teach students these tools and techniques.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

When evaluating a student's needs, I like to take a three-step approach: Listen, Discuss, and Compare. To begin this process, I believe it is essential to start with Listening. Asking the student to explain what they are struggling with in their studies allows me a picture of how they see their current situation. To further solidify this evaluation, step two would involve a discussion between myself and the student to clarify what seems to be the student's weak spots. This step is important because students often know more than they believe, and discussions can help me gain a better picture of their needs. On the other hand, students may think they fully understand a basic concept, but their confusion is causing problems with more complex material. Finally, once I have a relatively accurate picture of the student's needs through listening and discussion, I can compare where he/she is to where he/she would eventual like to be. These three steps will provide me with all the information I need to draw up a plan to aid the student in accomplishing her/his academic goals.


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