Students who learn with me feel they understand why the math they are doing makes sense.
Another area of interest is working with students for ESOL needs. I've been a tutor and trainer of tutors with Massachusetts MVLP through Pollard Library in Lowell, MA for three years. This work has been with adult learners, but when I worked in a high school, I also worked with high school students to support them with their English for writing and for math.
When I am not tutoring, I love travel, especially to see family in CA and PA, but pretty much anywhere. I've been very fortunate to have traveled most of the continents and have met great people as I've traveled. My other interests are hiking, reading, learning languages, and hanging out with friends and family.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Granite State College - Bachelors, Business Management
hiking, spending time with my family, baking, travel, studying languages as time permits, reading good books, indie movies and live music
ACCUPLACER Arithmetic Prep
ACCUPLACER ESL - Reading Skills Prep
Elementary School Math
High School English
High School Level American Literature
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Success builds success! When students learn from the ways they learn best and can also, over time, communicate this learning, they have genuinely learned. I believe that Professor Sharma's Six Levels of Learning outline the levels of learning needed to learn deeply and retain the learning process elicited during the questioning and teaching process.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would inquire about their life interests and their experience to this time, that has brought them success, as they learned new concepts. I would explain that we may do some work that will seem easy, but that this easier work will help me see how they learn, and what they struggle with. I would also ask them something that they could explain, so I could learn their level of communication for their topic. I would ask the student his/her goals for their tutoring work.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Teaching a student, and then asking them to make the student to make his/her notes, so the student will have the notes created in a way that is meaningful to the student is the first step. Having the student "road test" his or her notes is another check in for how the notes work or need modification. We would try different modalities for learning to see what brings the student success, and then encourage the student to notice each success, no matter how small, so the student could see for himself/herself the progress that is being made. Helping a student to develop a method for keeping track of the questions that are challenging can be another way of teaching them how to effectively focus on reviewing concepts he/she struggles with and identify the problems the student genuinely knows already.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
A student who is consistently present in sessions and who is reminded of earlier success and the fact that the student can learn will help a student stay motivated.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Ask questions that get at the skills or concepts with a different set of questions. Use models when possible that suggest the procedure before giving a procedure. Having a student do an easier problem and notice how the problem the student is currently working on is similar or different can help the student get a more difficult problem.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Visualization and verbalization, as the Lindamood Bell program suggests, can be an approach for some students. Others may draw to represent what the student is reading, to help the student remember what is being read. Using a graphic organizer can be another tool for reading comprehension. Getting students to predict what will happen is another tool; providing evidence of the reason they made the prediction is another. Creating a timeline of events can also help a student's comprehension.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
In math, concrete models (online tools sometimes support in the same way), creating a picture to represent the model, summarizing to use the model as evidence for the concept is a next step, and having a student describe his or her method, again, using the pictorial or physical model, can elicit success. Good questioning; Didactic, Socratic and Coaching questions elicit language and understanding. Getting a student to provide counter-examples of a concept can also deepen understanding. Keeping journals to summarize current learning can allow a student to see progress over time.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Finding an open window to the topic the student is struggling in is the way a student can become engaged. Finding a way for a student to have success during each session is another way to get the student excited and engaged. Celebrating even small successes can be helpful. Letting students struggle some is part of the learning process. Helping students see "failure" or "getting something wrong" as part of the learning process is a necessary part of the way past their current struggle. Being open if I make a mistake, and being comfortable with my own mistake(s), is another way to have a student become comfortable with his or her mistake(s). Incorporating the student's interests in the subject is essential to engage the student, whenever possible.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Questioning effectively would help me to ensure when a student understands the material. If a student can make up his or her own problem, that can help a student ensure they understand the material. Providing concept checks at the end of a session can be a way for the student to know what he or she knows and still needs to learn. Asking the student to gauge how well he or she understands the material is generally important. Giving the student an opportunity to teach me is another way to find out if the student understands the material. Having a student diagram or map out the concept can show what the student does know. Asking the student himself/herself if there might be a problem that could confuse them. The student often knows.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Positive support, and numerous affirmations of everything the student knows, will build confidence if it is done appropriately. Having the student reflect on the learning is a way to build confidence. Remind the student what the student used to struggle with. Getting the student to use positive statements about the topic around him or herself is super important. Helping students recognize failure is part of learning. Having a student recognize the growth path the student has been on is another way to build confidence.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I observe the student's interaction with the concepts, and watch what brings a positive outcome. I ask a student to do something that the student may find "too easy," and build the level of difficulty up until it becomes clear when a disconnect in learning has happened. I might pretest a student, or at least ask questions initially around vocabulary or familiarity with the topic, to see what the student knows intuitively. I'd present material with multi-modalities and see what is efficient and effective with the student.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I listen to my student as he or she explains what the current need is. I ask the student what is challenging about the current situation. I incorporate a great number of accumulated "tools" that I've observed are common areas of confusion for other students I've worked with, and determine if the common area is also an area of confusion for my current student. I have a number of tools I've developed that have helped students find success and work together to see what creates success for this student.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I use a fair number of materials - for ESL students, I've been using Karen Taylor and S Thompson's Color Vowel Chart. For any reading, I've used Scrabble tiles, Sarah Brody method, etc. I would also see what the student's class is using. I understand there are tools online should we be doing online tutoring work. For math, I use note sheets, PEMDAS, graphic organizer processing sheets, numerous note cards I've developed for other students, algebra tiles, and practice problems. Journals are an essential part of the tutoring process.