Hello everyone, my name is Marcus Westphal. I am a recent college graduate from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh where I studied English as my Major. I also worked in the campus Writing Center for several years to gain my tutoring experience.
In essence my tutoring and teaching philosophy is to make sure that the people I help can walk away from my sessions not only feeling that they are satisfied with their assignment, but also that they feel that they have improved themselves as a student in the process. I hope to help as many people as I can!
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Universtiy of Wisconsin Oshkosh - Bachelors, English
Writing, reading, television, movies, video games
College Application Essays
College Level American Literature
High School English
High School Level American Literature
High School Writing
Middle School Reading
Middle School Reading Comprehension
Middle School Writing
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
In essence, my tutoring and teaching philosophy is to make sure that the people I help can walk away from my sessions not only feeling that they are satisfied with their assignment, but also that they feel that they have improved themselves as a student in the process.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Being able to communicate clearly is the foundation of understanding the student's needs so a first session will be talking about how the student feels they learn best, and working in the future to meet those expectations.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Helping a student to understand how they learn best is the most efficient way to encourage independent learning. Trying out different strategies if they are struggling is the best way to begin. Taking more or less notes, creating a template for papers, etc.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Even if a student isn't thrilled about a subject, if they understand the importance of it in their growth as a person, they will be more motivated to do well in the future. Having regular conversations about the importance of a subject catered to their interests is how you raise interest in a subject.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Change your method. Everyone learns differently, so if a student isn't learning a concept, that means the method being used isn't clicking with them. Trying a visual aid or talking them through it step by step often will gain some new response that can be used to better their experience.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Oftentimes difficulties with reading comprehension stem from a limited vocabulary or by simply being daunted by how much reading there may be to do. Helping them understand to slow down and move at their own pace, or simply working on expanding their vocabulary, oftentimes will work wonders.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Most of the time when I've worked with a student, they actually know exactly what they need to succeed, and what they really need is someone to help them talk their way through it so they can understand their own thought process. My primary strategy is to talk a student though the assignment piece by piece, explaining anything they don't understand as we go, until they feel they have a firm grasp on whatever it is we've been working on.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
My primary subjects are English and History, both of which I'm passionate about for different reasons. If a student isn't excited about history, most likely they've been taught to dislike it over time. History is a grand story, and if explained that way instead of as a list of names and dates, most people become much more excited about it. As for writing, all one has to do is write about what they care about. Every assignment can be interesting if you are willing to broaden your mind and find a way to make it relevant to you.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I use my own personally-made templates for teaching how to write and outline how best to organize a paper. For reading and history, I've found flashcards or general summaries to help break down what can be complicated and daunting information.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
All it takes to not be nervous about a subject is understanding how easy it comes to you. If you know inherently you find something difficult, you have to be willing to spend a bit more time on it. In the meantime, to grow confidence, all you have to do is make the subject not as frightening by laying it out to see. English is quite easy once you can read clearly and write efficiently. Working toward those goals will always improve confidence, because whatever difficulties the student was having before will be dealt with over time.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Generally, in the first few sessions a student will tell you where they feel they are, and then by watching them the tutor can see where they actually are. By watching a student go through the writing process they currently have, I can see what I need to show them or explain to them to improve said process.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
All students learn differently, so all you have to do is be observant to what is and isn't working. If a student is a more visual learner, then I would use more worksheets and templates to explain difficult concepts, while if a student was a more auditory learner, then a longer explanation with a lot of detail might work better for them so they can take their own notes.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
For reading a writing, templates or short-form notes work best, I've found. Breaking a story or even paper down into smaller chunks makes it easier to understand and process.