I am a graduate of Oberlin College where I majored in religion and classics. For three years at Oberlin I worked as a writing tutor, both in the drop-in writing center in the library, and as a course-specific tutor for various classes. My senior year I studied abroad at Oxford University where I got to study with some of the most knowledgeable professors and brightest students. I also graduated with high honors for my degree in religion.
From my work as a writing tutor, and as a student myself, I know that sometimes the hardest part about writing is getting started. I love being able to help students find their interests and figure out how to write something that will not only be successful academically, but that they are going to enjoy. Writing can be hard, but it's my goal to help students find the fun and satisfaction in it as well.
Oberlin College - Bachelors, Religion, Classical Civilizations
SAT Verbal: 700
What is your teaching philosophy?
I firmly believe that not all students are the same, and there is no one-size-fits-all for learning. I also believe that each student has the ability to find their own answers, and view myself as the guide and mentor to help them find that path. This means asking students questions, giving them prompts, and allowing them to come to their own conclusions.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would go over what their goals are, and work out a reasonable path to reach that goal. For a writing assignment, this might mean breaking down the project into smaller pieces such as brainstorming ideas, outlines, and several rough drafts.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
One thing I work on with students is figuring out how to ask themselves prompting questions when I am not there. After we work together, we might come up with a list of questions that they can ask themselves to get started writing when they are blocked.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I would first try to find something in the material that they enjoyed, and use that as its own motivation. If that isn't working, I would try to have them look at larger goals and use things like feeling pride in hard work, good grades, or getting into college as motivation.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I would have them look for key words that clarify the meaning of the sentence. For any words they are struggling with, I might write a synonym for that word above the original. I would then have them restate the sentence in their own words.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Getting to know students and letting them get to know a bit about myself is a successful way to start a tutoring relationship with students. I will then talk with them about their goals, and about what in particular they struggle the most with so I have a good foundation for getting started.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I try to use phrases such as "you worked so hard to find that answer!" Or, "good job not giving up on that." I try to help students feel good about spending time on work, and then I will find things that they have improved on and tell the student. For example, I might tell a writing student "I really like how you cited specific evidence in this essay; it does a really good job of proving your point. I can really see the improvement from your first draft."
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I try to talk to their parents if they are a young student and see what has worked well in the past. If they are an adult, or an older student, I will ask them what is usually most effective for them. For some students, adding things like getting up and moving around can really improve their focus. For other students, rewards like stickers and getting "points" for homework can keep them motivated.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would have a candid conversation with them about the topic and see what aspects of it they naturally gravitate towards. I would then try to amplify these aspects in the tutoring and see if we can focus on the parts that they already enjoy. For example, for a student writing an essay, I might help them pick a subject of focus of the essay that they have a strong opinion about.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I talk to both them and their parents to figure out their goals and needs. After working with a student, I will also try to note what areas they struggle with the most, be that getting started writing, or staying focused once they are part way done.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
For students working on writing, I will most often just use a piece of paper and a pen or pencil to have them do free writing and brainstorming assignments. Occasionally I will use a recorder so they can speak out loud and listen back to their own thoughts.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
My favorite technique to see if students understand the material is to do a role reversal and let the student act as the tutor and explain the material to me. If they are able to explain in, then they often understand it themselves. If they cannot explain it, this process often highlights what specific parts we still need to work on.