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Susan

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I have a BA & MA in English Literature, and despite being accepted to a PhD program in my home state of Oklahoma, I decided to move to my favorite place--Washington DC! In addition to my years in school, I also taught Composition I and II my last year of my MA program, and tutored both in my MA program and for the Athletic Enhancement Center for my BA program! I've dealt with students across ages and levels of intellect, and I CANNOT WAIT to meet with you and help you work with English, Reading, Writing, or other related skills! Together, we will be totally unstoppable!!

Susan’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Oklahoma State University-Main Campus - Bachelors, English

Graduate Degree: University of Central Oklahoma - Masters, English

Hobbies

Teaching & helping students succeed, teaching and reading literature, researching teaching methods, researching literary theory, researching literary criticism, staying up to date on literary theory, watching West Wing and House of Cards on repeat, cuddling and walking and playing with puppies, playing with kittens, writing research paper and works of fiction, knitting in cool colors, all sorts of art (appreciation or construction), listening to music, designing rooms, color coordination

Tutoring Subjects

Adult Literacy

American Literature

AP English Literature and Composition

College Application Essays

College English

College Level American Literature

Elementary School Writing

English

English Grammar and Syntax

Essay Editing

High School English

High School Level American Literature

High School Writing

Middle School Reading

Middle School Reading Comprehension

Middle School Writing

Other

Public Speaking

Writing


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

Every student is an individual, and has individual goals, learning styles and needs. As an instructor, it is my duty to help each student succeed in the manner that best fits him/her. If learning a given subject is not enjoyable, I feel that it is my job to help that student find the aspects of that subject that he/she finds most interesting, exciting, compelling and fun!

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

First sessions should be both a get-to-know-you session, but should also be about working on the matter at hand. So many times, instructors focus too much on the stereotypical "icebreaker" session, but I find that students regularly desire to get work done so that they can go on to the things they enjoy even more (sports, games, music, etc.). I never want my student to feel like I am wasting his or her time, but I also find that knowing my students on a personal level is critical to my ability to assist them. Often, however, this can be done while completing work, which maximizes our time together.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Students become independent learners often by developing confidence in their ability to know a given subject matter. For example, when students regularly hear that they are not doing well at a given subject, students are naturally discouraged. As a result, many fall behind or give up altogether. This is not how to properly instruct. Instead, by giving students the tools to effective studying and learning, I can help my students not only succeed on specific assignments, but can give students skills that will follow them throughout their careers (academic and otherwise).

How would you help a student stay motivated?

When students have difficulties learning skills or concepts, there are a few things a good instructor, which in this scenario is myself, should assess before moving on. First and foremost, I would examine whether I am teaching in a manner befitting my student. If I am not teaching effectively, I need to alter my style. Second, another problem I had in the past was that my student actually had a learning disability. While this was problematic before my student divulged his difficulty, after we addressed it together, we were able to get on the road to success, and learning was easier and more enjoyable for my student. Finally, if nothing else resolves the issue, I would desire to sit down with the student, both 1-on-1 or with my student's parent(s) to discuss whether there are any other extraneous issues hindering my student's success. Oftentimes students blame themselves when they do not understand skills or concepts, when in reality, it is just as much--if not more--the fault of the instructor/teacher. As a result, when a student has difficulty, it is best that we work as a team in tackling this difficulty!

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

Reading comprehension can be very difficult for students, especially when works of writing can have multiple layers of meaning. Again, the first and second things I would assess are whether I am teaching effectively for the student, and whether there is some sort of disability or disadvantage my student is enduring. If there are no noticeable issues, reading comprehension can also be aided by finding something that a given student enjoys reading. For example, from my experience, I truly thought I hated reading for most of my childhood until I read adult literature (Hemingway, Melville, Dostoevsky, and so on). After reading Hemingway for the first time, I became an avid reader, and my comprehension skills greatly increased. So frequently teachers dismiss books like manga as unworthy of use in the classroom, but that is a falsehood. If a student struggling with reading comprehension does read and understand manga, that can be an incredibly effective tool for increasing reading skills.

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

The most helpful strategies I find helpful when starting to work with a student is getting to know his/her personal and educational backgrounds, as well as his/her likes/dislikes. Knowing my student's prior experience with a subject is also incredibly helpful, and knowing my student's goals (getting the highest score in the class or just passing) is one of the most valuable tools to which I have access in helping a student attain success.

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

Every subject, no matter how boring, dull, tedious, difficult or frustrating has something that is exciting. For example, I was personally very bored with literature until we studied Deconstruction, which caused my heart to beat! For students, having small and attainable goals is critical, as is looking for the sub-topic within the subject that is most appealing to him/her, and allowing him/her to investigate those topics as well as the ones required by schoolwork.

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

From my own experience, I can confidently say that the best way to learn something is to teach it. To make sure my students TRULY knows the material, I always have them teach it to me, and while doing so, imagine I am completely ignorant about the subject.

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

While I cannot build my student's confidence in a subject alone, I can, have and desire to assist each student in increasing his/her confidence in a subject and in life. There are things that students know they know, and things they know they do not know. Knowing that the things they do not know are acceptable to comprehend *at this moment in time* goes a long way towards students feeling confident in their abilities.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I evaluate a student's needs based on discussions with my student, documents provided by students and by reviewing my student's work. Even if a student needs significant amounts of help in a topic, he or she should never be embarrassed by the fact that he or she is attempting tutoring--that is truly the first step towards success!

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

Because every student is different, I adapt my tutoring to each student. This can mean I adapt the space in which I tutor, the time for our sessions, and the rhetoric I use with my students. For example, I use very different language for my ESL students than for my upper-division college level writing students. If a student is a night owl, I am happy to adapt to that schedule, but if he or she is an early bird, studying according to that schedule might be better for him or her.

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

The materials I use are greatly dependent upon the student. Often my students need assistance writing papers, so the materials are regularly a thesaurus, dictionary, the novel(s)/play(s)/movie(s)/etc., and the student's own work. Additionally, when I am not working with a student's essay, I have a variety of other resources from which I can pull.