Teaching is a matter of questioning. The unexamined life is not worth living.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Boston College - Bachelors, English and Theatre Arts
Graduate Degree: Brown University - Masters, Acting
ACT Composite: 31
ACT English: 31
ACT Math: 34
ACT Reading: 33
ACT Science: 27
GRE Quantitative: 159
GRE Verbal: 163
Cycling, Theater, Film
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is to encourage question marks, not periods. The value in education and tutoring is not finding the answer, but discovering ways to find answers. Asking questions, not dictating methods. Retention of process is much easier when it is self-generated, rather than dictated. Dictation simply becomes rote memorization on behalf of the student, and the only people who enjoy memorizing are actors.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would talk to them about their classes and their teachers. Which teachers make them want to learn, and why? Find out what extracurricular activities they may pursue; what else is in their life that might clue me in to the best way they learn. At that point I would start getting to the business by asking their subject needs and, more importantly, their goals in those subjects. Finally, I would discuss what we would be working on next session, and schedule around that.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
If I'm allowed to get a heady for a moment, I promise it will go somewhere: Immanuel Kant describes beauty, and our reaction to it, as engaging our mental faculties without ever reaching the step of knowledge or cognition. It's a kind of buzzing of the brain which one finds pleasant, though it has no end in the way that, say, the recognition of something new might have, e.g. "What is that thing? Oh! It's a kind of dog I've never seen before [but it's still a dog]." I believe the best learning is when the mind is in this state. Once the mind reaches an end, where else can it go? It can go no further. To become an independent learner is to become a perpetual learner; to bask in the sensation of wonder while looking for new connections within or between any number of subjects. Examine life! The other route is just far too dull.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
This is why establishing goals, both big and small, in the first meeting is so important. If one has effectively placed small goals along the way-- "signposts," one may say-- then one never gets bored. It's like designing a bicycle route. One does not want to ride uphill the entire time, nor does one want to stay on flat land--then no work gets done. Find a couple hills (which preferably end with some scenic vistas), enjoy the descent, get the engine going again on a flat, and hit the next hill.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I would start small, and work bigger. In many cases the minute can be representative of the whole. What is this sentence trying to convey? What is the next trying to convey? How are they related? Then to a paragraph, and then to a section or chapter, etc. Communication is a basic activity of humans, and reading is just a particular form of it; it just takes meeting it on its own terms.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
While it isn't a "strategy", per se, it is important to start with a student by speaking to them with respect and patience. Students who need tutors are by no means stupid or anything of the like; they simply have the need of strengthening a skill that I happen to have. As far as strategies go, I think that it is most successful to move from general, to specific, to extrapolation. This allows the student to acknowledge a principle's existence; to provide a framework for the investigation about to be set upon. Then, in the particular, one sees how the general is applied, for instance to a single algebraic equation. Then, in extrapolation, we reinforce/restate the general principle/concept, and consider how it may be applied to other similar situations, both terrestrial and hypothetical, thus providing a "reason" for the learning.