I am a graduate of McGill University, where I earned a B.Sc. in Environment. While at McGill, I worked as a tutor, helping freshmen students in my program review a semester's worth of material in preparation for final exams. Since graduation, I have been developing a career in marine science and policy, doing field research as well as internships with prominent organizations. I spent six months working as a substitute teacher in Maine classrooms ranging from grade two through twelve in all subjects as well as with ESL students, before accepting a long-term substitute position in a high school math department. I am comfortable with, and well qualified to teach a broad range of subjects. I have highly developed writing abilities, and am an avid reader but also am well versed in physical sciences and mathematics. I look forward to working with students who are motivated to set and achieve high goals. I think that a good education is one which imparts an ability to think critically, and I try to emphasize to my students that learning is a valuable lifelong process - a foundation for which is based in a positive academic experience. I enjoy anything active outdoors, and love to cook - I spend my spare time trying new recipes and exploring all that DC has to offer.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: McGill University - Bachelors, Environment:Biodiversity and Conservation
photography, hiking, museums, ocean, writing, running
Elementary School Math
Elementary School Reading
Elementary School Science
Elementary School Writing
High School Chemistry
High School English
High School Writing
Middle School Reading
Middle School Reading Comprehension
Middle School Science
Middle School Writing
Q & A
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Before delving into course material, I always like to establish clear goals with my students to provide structure and guide future sessions. This also opens a channel of communication and mutual understanding that I find valuable in any kind of student/instructor relationship. To facilitate an efficient and instructive tutoring program, it is important to have a sense of what exactly the student is looking to gain - whether it be details and specific aspects of a nuanced subject, or a holistic, broader understanding. That first conversation allows for more individualized attention rather than a 'one-size-fits-all' approach.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
With past students, I've found that a little encouragement and affirmation goes a long way to foster both confidence and motivation. Giving a student some latitude in directing their studies promotes a sense of ownership of their education, which can make the difference between absorbing material to pass an exam, and truly learning it for life-long application. This makes the focus of education to be a long-term process of learning, not solely a short-term goal of making the grade.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
If a student is frustrated or losing motivation, I would remind them of past success, and also emphasize their long-term goals. For that reason, I believe it is valuable to establish clear, achievable goals early on in a tutor/student relationship, and to maintain short-term goals that keep the dialog focused on progress.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would search for alternative methods of teaching or explaining that concept. There are different learning styles - auditory, visual and kinesthetic - so what works well for one student might not be as effective for the next. I would remind that student to be patient with themselves, and emphasize that everyone struggles with learning new concepts sometimes. Depending on the context, if course material is cumulative in nature, I might set aside the challenging material for a session, and review previous lessons just to be sure the conceptual foundation is solid before moving on.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Real-world applications are a good way to engage students in material that might be difficult. If a student can relate to why a given subject is worth understanding in the context of their own interests, that at least makes it relevant to their life. Also, showing genuine interest and excitement in the material as an instructor can speak volumes.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
To be sure that a student understands material, I would test their knowledge in various ways, and if possible, in a different context than the material was presented in. This is easier in some subjects than others, of course. To be sure, I would have the student close the book and explain the material to me - if they can explain it confidently, in their own words, they most likely have a good grasp and are ready to move forward.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Setting small, manageable, but meaningful goals is an effective way to build confidence. I think that being able to visualize progress helps, especially with younger students, so creating a chart of goals and checking them off as new material is mastered can help to build momentum. Additionally, sincere encouragement can go a long way - I know from experience that having someone believe in your abilities, before you have confidence to believe in yourself, can make all the difference.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Asking a student directly what it is they are struggling with, what they understand, and what they're looking to accomplish on a given time frame is the first step. Then, I would corroborate that information by testing their knowledge to get a 'baseline' and a more thorough idea of what the best plan of action will be to fill in gaps. I would determine their learning style and do my best to accommodate that into a tailored plan for instruction. It's also good to bear in mind that sometimes, low confidence can undermine academic performance. It's important to evaluate both a student's absolute understanding of material, and what they perceive their capabilities to be. A student's needs can potentially include support and encouragement, not just instruction.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Tutoring is valuable because the one-on-one nature allows for tailoring to meet specific needs. This is especially true when a student and tutor work together on a regular basis. Each session provides insight into what works for a particular student and where they tend to struggle. For a student to benefit as much as possible from a tutor, they should be given some latitude in planning how to work through the material and have some ownership over the experience. Communication is key - no two students learn exactly the same way, and listening carefully to their unique frustrations is critical to finding the best way forward to meet their goals.
What is your teaching philosophy?
The type of materials used really depends on the subject and the grade level of the student. Foreign language, I find, is best taught through conversation (written and spoken) rather than by rote memorization or translation of vocabulary, whereas mathematics requires extensive practice and repetition of precise steps to master. Most students that I have worked with in the past prefer not to stray too far from prescribed course materials, but with some advance notice (for ESL college students), I have been able to prepare written summaries in more accessible language. This was greatly successful in preparing them for conceptual exams, where they struggled with terminology.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I like to employ the idea of metacognition, or 'thinking about thinking' as a strategy to identify problems in comprehension. I have students identify the goal of reading a passage - what questions will it answer? - before they begin, to get them to read more deliberately. This can apply to young students just learning to read, or older students struggling with dense subject matter.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
It's important to set the right tone from the beginning. I would start out by getting to know the student - what their goals are, what their specific and unique frustrations are, how they like to learn and what they think both their role and mine should be. Depending on the subject, I might also test their knowledge before delving into material just to get a baseline and to check for blind spots before getting any farther. I would make sure they have a solid foundation before trying to teach new cumulative material, because it's more difficult to truly understand more material without a firm understanding of fundamentals. After all that, I would take the goals they identified, and come up with a game plan with manageable steps to chart a course of how reach those goals.