I am a fully qualified high school History teacher who has specialized in U.S. and World History. I currently work at UCSD as a Teaching & Learning Development Specialist, where I am deeply involved in all aspects of teacher development. I have been teaching in London, England for the past twelve years where I was deeply involved in teaching the International Baccalaureate (IB). In addition, I am an examiner for the IB grading History papers II and III as well as the Extended Essay and History I.A.s.
To gain an excellent grade in your History or Politics course it will take more than just memorizing dates and names. An excellent student of History and Politics will develop analytical essay writing and critical thinking skills. Through our tutoring sessions I will teach you how to develop the skills needed in order to become an outstanding learner. These skills will be transferable for the next step in what I am sure will be an excellent academic career.
I look forward to seeing you online or in person.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: BA American Studies - Bachelors, American Studies
Graduate Degree: Edinboro University of Pennsylvania - Masters, Social Science
Reading history, surfing, cooking and travel.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My philosophy for teaching is actually very simple: I treat my students with respect, and I allow myself to be humbled by how much I learn from them on a daily basis. Teaching is a lifelong learning profession, and the day I claim to know everything is the day I hang up my PowerPoint clicker. My ten plus years of teaching a wide range of students has shaped me into the educator I am today. Working with disadvantaged youth taught me patience and humility, and my time teaching at the community college level taught me a deep respect for the young adult. I have also learned an enormous amount from teaching a diverse room of students with mixed abilities, which requires careful planning and preparation. Like my teaching and my students, my philosophy will change with time-- or at least I hope it will.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
The first session in any tutoring scenario is extremely important for both the tutor and the student. I like to ensure that my students know that when they are working with me they have entered into a safe and professional setting. We will discuss the student's needs and concerns and from this point I can tailor a bespoke lesson that will ensure that my students are receiving an experience that is appropriate and real for them. A personal tutoring session is just that, and my students will leave their first session with a comprehensive learning plan that will work with their busy schedules.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
A very important skill that you will develop in our tutoring sessions is how to work as an independent learner. This skill will stay with you for life and assist you in future endeavors. A way in which this skill will be taught is through a style of teaching called "the flipped learning model." By using this teaching technique, students take ownership of their studies and work independently at home. When we meet in our tutoring session, we concentrate on exam specific techniques and big picture ideas, allowing the student to work on their analytical understanding of a time period or major issue.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
As an experienced tutor with over ten years in education, I have learned a multitude of different approaches to combat student disengagement. I would say that a simple, but key approach, is the student-tutor relationship. I always make it clear to my students that I am available outside of our assigned tutoring sessions for support and guidance. In addition, the culture set from the very first tutoring session will be geared towards student ownership over their studies and their aspirations. Meaningful timely feedback on essays and question sets will lead to my students improving week by week, which in turn will engender a confidence that will be translated in excellent grades and a rewarding sense of personal achievement. In short, you will work hard and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
The topics and skills being taught at your level are very challenging; however, historical writing skills can be improved through practice papers and well directed tutor feedback, and concepts can be better understood by contextualizing the issues at hand. For example, if you are studying the U.S. Civil War, a good way of understanding a number of big concepts at hand would be to consider the following question: 'Was Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation an altruistic document or a pragmatic war measure?' By looking at a question such as this, you will engage in a multilayered analysis of the U.S. Civil War.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Every student has unique needs. I always set my students a number of short engaging activities in the first few sessions that allow me to ascertain the differing learning models I will implement when working with them. For example, I recently had a student that really got a lot out of the screencast lectures that I set for background before our tutoring session. She noted that because English was not her first language, she was able to stop and rewind and understand more deeply the issues being discussed.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
This is an excellent and important question to answer. As a fully qualified teacher working at both the high school and University level, I have often come across disengaged students. The answer is to know more about the person you are working with. By way of example, I had a student that did not enjoy his U.S. history class, however he was an avid reader. So we discussed the famous author, Cormac McCarthy's book, Blood Meridian, as a way and means to engage him in his class about the West and frontier life.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I am very keen on using technology when tutoring. I have found that online short quizzes and forums such as Ted-end have been an excellent way of not only engaging my students but also checking that the material set is truly comprehended.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
A very important way that a student would build their confidence in a subject is through meaningful, well directed feedback from their tutors. I like to share with my students how their grades are calculated and where the strengths and areas of improvement are, so their confidence will be raised along with their grades. A student who has ownership over their learning and understands clearly what is required to improve is a motivated and highly engaged learner. Ultimately, when a student is enjoying and having fun with their studies, this also translates to success. We will have fun together while exploring the differing topics you are studying.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
For each of my students, I write up a personalized learning plan. This plan will take into consideration learning styles and specific individual needs. Formative and summative assessments will be used to author the individual learning plans and ensure that each of my student's needs are fully met.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Every student I tutor is an individual and has their own idiosyncratic learning styles. This is the great pleasure of working with my students as they keep me learning and thinking about the world in new ways. I am a firm believer in lifelong learning and growth, accordingly I am continuously reading and re-training in the field of education as to keep my tutoring current and also flexible so that I can adapt to the needs of each student. A technique I would use with a very visual learner would not always work with other students. With over ten years of tutoring experience, I have learned how and when to adapt and change my teaching style to create a best fit for the learner.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I use a multitude of different educational tools to suit the specific subject and area in which I'm tutoring. For example, I have found Ted.com to be a powerful online tool to create a deep understanding and analysis of specific historical topics. In addition, online journal articles, source specific material and secondary sources are all used. Audio-visual aids are particularly meaningful when trying to contextualize historical periods, as are podcasts and open source material, such as ivy league online class lectures. All of these resources are used to create a varied and exciting tutoring experience.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
An excellent way to assist a student who is struggling with reading comprehension is to use track changes on a document. I would set the student reading; however, I would have annotated the text with key words and short explanations. From this point, the student also marks up the document with questions and concerns. This reading now becomes a co-authored document between the student and the tutor, which can be use as a learning tool to assist reading comprehension.