My love of teaching stems directly from the positive influence of compassionate educators who were genuinely invested in my overall development. Despite my strong academic pedigree, I struggled quite a bit to keep up with my peers early on -- enough so to raise concerns about potential learning disabilities. Yet these amazing individuals saw potential where so many others could not, devoting extra time and energy to identify and address my needs as a student. By consistently going above and beyond what was expected of them, they instilled in me a strong sense of obligation to similarly empower others through knowledge and unconditional positive regard.
In the 10 years I have worked as a tutor and high school biology teacher, I have helped students from 9 to 21 years old reach their educational goals while gaining a deeper appreciation for the whys and hows of what they are learning. My proven success as an educator comes from my ability to recognize a student's strengths and weaknesses in order to adjust and adapt my teaching methods on the fly. I know from personal experience how frustrating it can be to hit roadblocks in one's education due to mismatched teaching/learning styles, so I make it my first priority to make sure my students feel listened to and appreciated yet sufficiently challenged.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Yale University - Bachelors, Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry
SAT Composite (1600 scale): 1570
SAT Math: 800
SAT Verbal: 720
SAT Writing: 800
AP Calculus BC: 5
AP English Literature: 4
AP US History: 4
AP World History: 4
SAT Mathematics Level 2: 770
MCAT Biological Sciences: 132
MCAT Physical Sciences: 131
MCAT Verbal Reasoning: 130
SAT Subject Test in Physics: 760
SAT Subject Test in U.S. History: 690
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills: 130
Cooking, singing, swimming, photography
Anatomy & Physiology
High School Biology
MCAT Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
Study Skills and Organization
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that an excellent teacher is one who is able to bring personal relevance to each and every student, adjusting his teaching approaches as needed to ensure complete comprehension. To borrow from The Karate Kid's Mr. Miyagi, there is "no such thing as [a] bad student, only [a] bad teacher." A teacher must be able to balance competence with compassion, drawing from both to nurture not just intellectual development, but also the development of integrity and transferable study habits. He must be able to put himself in the mindset of his students, considering extenuating circumstances that may hinder progress in learning.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would use the first session to gauge the student's existing familiarity with the subject matter, as well as her personal goals for her tutoring experience. For example, if she needed help in AP Biology, I would ask her which topics were giving her the most trouble, and whether she had any insight into why. If, say, the teacher moved too fast or used difficult terminology, I would take note to pay special attention to my pacing and/or vocabulary. If she didn't find the subject inherently interesting, I would ask her what subject(s) she did enjoy so that I could incorporate topics from said subject(s) into my lessons. At the end, I would tell her a bit about my own educational background, especially where the particular tutoring topic is concerned, emphasizing my belief that the tutor-student relationship depends on open, honest communication and respect.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Independent learning stems from self-confidence, which in turn is gained by acknowledgement of any amount of progress. As a tutor, I always pay special attention to the student's weaknesses, using what I know about his or her preferred learning styles to tailor my teaching approach while simultaneously highlighting the things they do well.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Though the specifics of my course of action would depend on the particular skill or concept in question, my general strategy is to "diagnose" the issue as I work side-by-side with the student. I often do this by creating a custom-tailored series of questions of increasing difficulty, which has the added effect of boosting self-confidence. This works especially well for highly nuanced skills/concepts, as students are often able to understand individual parts in a gradual manner until they are able to piece them all together on their own.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
As someone who struggled for a long time to understand the concept of "reading between the lines", I much prefer to help students demystify complicated text by considering individual phrases and thoughts separately. I have them transcribe the difficult passage(s) in their own words before having a discussion about what the author is trying to say. If the struggle appears to be content-related (e.g., a chapter on the process of photosynthesis), I allow the student to think aloud as I facilitate comprehension by asking them leading questions.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I have found that most students respond well to candidness and positive regard, so I usually start by asking general questions about who they are and what they hope to get out of the tutoring experience. If they are especially shy or reluctant, I make every effort to relate to them by sharing anecdotes about my own difficulties as a shy and reluctant student. I tell them about my genuine interest in their education, making it very clear to them that I am willing and able to adjust my methods at their behest. In doing all these things, I actively seek to break down any real or perceived barriers and level with my students.