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Education is my passion. I left college with a secondary teaching credential in French and English and went to Alaska to teach for a year. Living in the bush in Alaska was a little isolated for me, so I returned to California, and substituted in several districts in a variety of subjects usually at the secondary level. In order to get a steady job, I went to work for the IRS where I was able to use my technical and teaching skills with adults on many occasions. I retired from the IRS after 27 years as a manager. I returned to substitute teaching, but didnt feel that I had enough opportunity to work with individual students to see how each developed. So, I started tutoring. I have tutored students in kindergarten through high school, and I have worked with adults for whom English is a second language.
Language is so important. Studying literature and culture gives the student a view of the universality of the human experience. Exposure to language and literature helps a student develop logic, critical thinking, and analytical skills. During my career as a manager, I helped my employees practice the necessary skills of meeting deadlines, prioritizing work, and clearly communicating positions.
I believe that reading and math skills are essential in the workplace and in life. I think that many students get "lost" in math during middle school, and I like to help them find their way. I like to start with what the student is interested in and what he or she is studying in school. I approach subjects by asking a lot of questions in order to guide the student to see the big picture and how what s/he knows fits with what s/he is studying. I think that hard work pays off for every student, and my goal is for a student not to need my help any longer. I want the student to become self-motivated and responsible for his or her own success.

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Michelle’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Gonzaga University - Bachelors, French


Reading, walking with my dog, doing crossword puzzles, cryptograms and trivia challenges, working with my therapy greyhound and helping at the therapy dog office.

Tutoring Subjects


Elementary School Math

Elementary School Reading

Elementary School Writing



Essay Editing


French 1

French 2

High School Writing



Middle School Math

Middle School Reading

Middle School Reading Comprehension

Middle School Writing



Public Speaking


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I would have to say that my philosophy of teaching is that I would like to help you reach your goals. Teaching is not one way. I cannot pour information into your head, but I can help you learn, and help you find out sources of information. A student is responsible for himself or herself, but I would like to help you develop that sense of responsibility.

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

In a first session, I'm going to talk with a student and find out what he or she likes, what problems s/he is having, and what his or her course book looks like. I'm going to try to find out what the student thinks is the best approach and work with all these factors in developing my approach.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

I'm going to ask a lot of questions. I'm going to get the student to think for himself or herself. I'm going to point out good sources of information and ask the student to look for himself or herself at those sources. The goal is to get a student to use his or her thought processes, apply logic, analyze the information, and critically evaluate it.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

I'd like a student to work toward being internally motivated. I don't think motivation can be imposed. But, I do think the teacher can suggest topics that are more interesting, can approach problems in a new way that might "grab" the student, and change up approaches as necessary.

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

I have a variety of reference materials. I would try to approach the skill or concept from a different angle. I also think that having the student try to "teach" you the skill or concept can be helpful for the student and the teacher.

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

Questions and discussions. Sometimes, I will read a section to the student and then ask questions about it to see where the problems lie. I will also have students read to me and ask the questions. We will discuss words that might be a problem, moving on to the subject of a paragraph to make sure that the student is "comprehending". I will be making sure that I am using the student's experiences so that s/he understands and personalizes what s/he is reading.

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

I find it most helpful to talk to the student to see what s/he thinks and what s/he wants to get out of working with me. I also like to know what s/he likes so we can bring those areas into discussion or examples.

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

I'm going to try to help the student see a benefit to the subject; some way it will pay off for him or her to know more about it and to master it.

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

Questions, questions, questions. Usually a textbook has discussion questions that I will use to make sure s/he is understanding.

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

I think that the more successful a student is in a subject, the more that s/he knows and can demonstrate that knowledge, the more confidence s/he will have. I try to recognize a student's hard work and successes, and I find that a base of knowledge builds confidence.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

Ask the student, review what the student does, and discuss with the parent. I cannot always tell when I first meet a student, but over time, I develop a rapport and understanding of the student and what his or her needs are.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

It really depends on the subject. I'm going to start by getting to know the student and his or her subject matter. For example, if a student thinks that s/he learns best by hearing something, I am going to possibly read it to him or her and ask questions. Eventually, the student may need to read it to himself or herself (for example) so that s/he is "hearing" it. Some students may need to read, some to watch movies or videos, etc. I find that out over time.

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

Textbooks, other books, and the computer for research. I might suggest sites or videos.

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