I first discovered how much I love teaching during my summers in high school when I was working as a lifeguard at our local town pool. I had completed the Red Cross Learn to Swim/Lifeguarding program and was invited to return to the program as an instructor. Initially, it was more a love of the water than love of teaching that drew me to that first summer job I ever had, but I soon realized how rewarding it is to work with young people and help them acquire skills they can use throughout their lifetime.
Teaching swimming lessons grew into helping my neighbors' kids with homework, and upon graduation from high school I entered Long Island University as a Childhood Education major with a minor in psychology. Since then, I have enjoyed my career as an educator, working with students both privately and in the classroom .
When I am not teaching, I spend my time traveling, cooking, and taking care of my many animals.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Long Island University-C W Post Campus - Bachelors, Childhood Education
Travel, animals, cooking, dancing, swimming, theater
Elementary School Math
Elementary School Reading
Elementary School Science
Elementary School Writing
ISEE-Lower Level Mathematics Achievement
ISEE-Lower Level Quantitative Reasoning
ISEE-Lower Level Reading Comprehension
ISEE-Lower Level Verbal Reasoning
ISEE-Lower Level Writing
Middle School Reading
Middle School Reading Comprehension
Middle School Writing
Study Skills and Organization
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
A trusted professor once shared his philosophy with me and my teaching was never the same: Attitude, not aptitude, determines altitude. I believe that there are no limits to what a student can accomplish if he is given the right resources and if his teachers believe in him. If you believe your students can accomplish great things, then they will!
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
After introducing myself and perhaps talking with the student for a few moments to get an idea of what his feelings are towards the subject at hand and towards school in general, I might start by determining the student's prior knowledge about the subject. I would ask a few basic questions to determine what the student's strengths are, as well as what areas he may need a boost in. I would perhaps ask to see some samples of prior work if appropriate, or ask him to complete some sample questions just to get an idea of where the starting point for our sessions should be.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I believe that imparting general problem-solving skills to students is just as important, if not more important, than demonstrating how to solve specific problems. I foster independent thinking in my students by responding to their questions with more questions. Instead of saying, "This is how you solve the problem", I prefer to ask guiding questions such as "If you're not sure how to solve it, where do you think we can begin? What could be our first step? What do you notice about this problem?", etc.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
During my years of teaching, I have noticed two things that help increase student motivation. The first is helping the student to see why the information being covered is relevant to his or her own life. Students are more inclined to take tutoring sessions seriously when they feel that they are truly gaining something valuable from it. Secondly, I also find that a little praise can go a long way toward helping a student feel that their hard work is not going unnoticed. Just like adults appreciate when we are told we are doing a good job, children even more so need to know that they are succeeding in order for them to want to keep trying.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Repetition is key. Sometimes a student may simply need more practice or more time to hone his skills in a certain area. If it seems that a particular concept is really challenging, I would vary my approach by trying different ways of explaining, instructing, and practicing the skill, because often a fresh approach can bring a student to that lightbulb moment.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
For students who are struggling with reading comprehension, there are various approaches I like to utilize. The first step is to determine the root cause of the issue- is the student having trouble deciphering words and maybe needs some sight word or vocabulary practice? Is the student rushing through his reading and perhaps needs to practice reading aloud while the teacher helps set the pace so he can truly absorb what he is reading? Does the student need help breaking a reading passage into smaller chunks so it is not so overwhelming? Usually you can determine what specifically a student needs help with, and use that as a starting point.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Helping a student feel comfortable with you goes a long way. I find that not being either too strict or too lenient helps a student relax. Going slow at first to really get to know a student's strengths and areas of concern is also important, because as a teacher it shows me what I need to focus on to individualize my instruction to that particular student.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I believe that with the right approach, just about any learning can be made "fun". Not that having fun is the goal of a tutoring session, but a student is more likely to respond well to instruction if the environment is welcoming. Also, helping the student to see the practical use of what they are learning helps. Each subject should be treated as an important part of the whole body of knowledge a student needs.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
In addition to the traditional type of question and answer assessments, I find that a good way to determine a student's understanding is if they are able to explain something to you in their own words. Rather than recite, students should be able to speak about what they are learning in a way that they could even explain it to someone else if asked.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Sometimes a certain subject may seem overwhelming to a student. Maybe he or she feels like they will just never be able to master a certain topic. I like to build confidence by showing the student that he probably already knows more than he thinks, and he has the ability to learn if he just gives himself the chance. If a student had trouble with algebraic equations, for example, I would create some very simple one variable questions that I know for sure he could solve, thus building a tiny bit of confidence with each question. I would then introduce harder problems slowly, and carefully review them with the student, so he can slowly start to tackle harder and harder examples without feeling overwhelmed.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
The years of working with students in classroom and private tutoring sessions have made it easy for me to pick up on student needs. An easy way to tell is by their work samples, as well as from speaking with the student himself or with his parents. Often, just the way he reacts to a suggestion of mine, or even his body language, can tell me a lot about what's going on in his head. This helps me determine the needs of each specific student.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
No child should be taught with a "one size fits all" cookie cutter approach. I always try to see each student as an individual, and what worked well for one student might not work for another, so it is important to get to know each student. Things like pace and intensity of problems can be changed so that each student has a meaningful and personalized learning experience.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I use whatever works for the student! Aside from books and worksheets, I like to use manipulatives for math lessons, white boards that students can write on, and even age appropriate learning games.