A photo of Heather, a tutor from Colorado College

Heather

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I have over five years of tutoring experience (writing, college apps, etc.), both in college writing centers and privately (online and in-person). I LOVE helping students refine their skill sets, learn new tools, and help them craft the knock out essay they're capable of writing. More recently, I taught college composition (both freshmen and sophomore levels) at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. As an instructor, I pride myself not only on teaching students how to write compelling academic essays, but also guiding them to discover their voice. Additionally, I adore helping high school students find their voice during the college application process--both for the dreaded, concise application essay(s) and prepping them for the even more dreaded admission interview. I'm something of a mini-expert in this field, having worked in the Colorado College Admission Office. I interviewed hundreds of students, evaluated them, and sat in on committee meetings. I have a firm understanding of what makes an applicant stand out versus fall into the blur of thousands of other applications.

Heather’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Colorado College - Bachelors, English

Graduate Degree: University of Alaska-Fairbanks - Masters, English - Creative Writing

Test Scores

GRE Verbal: 154

Hobbies

creative writing, hiking, reading, hoarding books,

Tutoring Subjects

College Application Essays

English

Essay Editing

High School English

High School Writing

Other

Study Skills

Study Skills and Organization

Writing


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

In a tutorial, a class session, or even a full semester, my end goal is for a student to--at the very least--feel more comfortable, have greater confidence, and take pride in their work. Confidence and feeling good takes precedence--from there, the learning and growth will follow.

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

Get to know the student! Everyone is so, so, so different and each student has her own unique learning style. I want to work at my student's pace, prepare for future tutorials, and adapt my teaching style to her learning styles.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Agency. Reminding the student that, ultimately, her grade is in HER hands. Not mine. I hope to give my students the tools to grow and push themselves, so that I don't only help them with (for example) 'one paper' but help them work independently on the papers to comes.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Passion. I'm obnoxiously passionate, and I'm told it's contagious (sometimes). But, also, more seriously, reminding students WHY they are here--why they care about school, what they want to learn, and why do they want to improve?

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

Back it up. Back it up and slow it down! Often having a student explain what they DO know and from there talking it through. But taking it slowly, remembering that gaining a new skill or concept is a process.

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

Asking questions is always helpful, whether I'm working with a new reader or a graduate student. Helping students understand purpose (the purpose for reading, the purpose of the reading), finding key focus points (subjects, characters, thesis, argument, what have you), and--likewise--encourage students to ASK questions as they read (or after they read) as well. Asking questions (whether this entails asking me, their tutor, the questions or doing a quick post-freewrite reading response), helps a student better internalize, untangle, and understand their reading.

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

Acknowledge how they've grown, acknowledge where they were strong to start and how it's improved, and acknowledge the areas that are still wonky but that are still--nonetheless--improving. Thank the student for her time, her effort, and for showing up: trying and putting the time into gaining skills in a subject alone is an accomplishment.

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

Passion! It's addictive. Discussing what they're most drawn to within the subject, how it connects to their every day, or how they can draw such connections. Showing excitement for the subject myself and helping them see that they CAN master it.

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

Good old-fashioned brainstorming. Talking through ideas, points of weakness, and points of strengths. I also use rapid Q&As. I try to make these fun--where I ask questions about the subject (ex. if they're developing an essay, the questions would be geared toward the topic) and make them a wee oddball and exciting. As I most frequently tutor in writing, I point out habits, repetition, and common syntax errors. This is less fun but is often extremely helpful in long term learning. I also read essays out loud for students or have them read it out loud.

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

Ensuring that the student is comfortable is key, so (especially if it's in person) I start with some low-key questions about the course, the assignment, the teacher, and how they feel about their work. Also reminding them that I--a grad student, instructor, and long-term writing tutor--still struggle deeply with my own essay writing opens students up in a tutorial quickly. From there, diving right in. Questions are always key, encouraging a student to dig deeper, to go even more specific. Having them read their work out loud is also effective, and vice versa.

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

As I mainly tutor in writing, asking questions. Once we've been working a tad long term, and perhaps a student and I are approaching a new essay, I'm far less directive in my approach. I'll have the student do more of the leading, prompt her to catch her errors (passive voice, run-on sentences, incomplete ideas), and wait a few seconds longer before answering a question to see if she comes up with an answer on her own. I love seeing a student build up their confidence and skill set over time--for them to believe in their writing--so this element of tutoring (checking for understanding) is a particular favorite of mine.