A photo of Crystal, a tutor from Cincinnati Christian University

Crystal

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My goal is to help students reach their maximum academic potential by presenting and reinforcing concepts according to their individual learning styles.

I'm originally from Charlotte, NC and love everything about the Outer Banks, sweet tea, and southern culture. My husband and I have 2 sets of twin boys, ages 17 and 13. All of them have been homeschooled, although the older set is now being educated through other means. One has special needs and attends a private school specializing in educating and caring for autistic children with learning disabilities. The other has graduated and plans to attend Johnson University next fall, majoring in Nonprofit Administration.

In addition to educating my own children, I have also taught music classes to 1st-2nd and 3rd-5th grades at the Learning Tree Co-op in Springdale, OH.

My initial career path while in high school was to be a concert pianist. But that track was derailed when extended hours of constant playing created massive physical problems for my hands. Nevertheless, I enrolled at Cincinnati Christian University as a piano major and had the first of three hand surgeries over Christmas break my freshman year. I took on part-time teaching positions in music studios around the Cincinnati area beginning in my sophomore year. It was those teaching experiences that helped to segue my initial goal of stage performance to a passion for piano pedagogy and a desire to prevent other students from having to endure the same physical pain brought on by poor technique and misuse.

Upon graduating from CCU, I enrolled in the Master of Music program at East Carolina University where my pedagogical studies focused on injury-preventative techniques for beginning and intermediate piano students. Following graduation, I opened my own private studio and became heavily involved with the North Carolina Music Teachers Association, serving as Vice President of the Greenville (NC) chapter.

After 17 years of private studio teaching, I accepted a position at Cincinnati Christian University as Adjunct Professor of Piano in 2011. One of my favorite aspects of the job was having the opportunity to mentor students, both academically and in future planning. I resigned from the position in May 2016 due to degree changes and the dissolution of my job description.

In my spare time, I enjoy playing piano, fishing, crocheting, cooking, learning about essential oils, and watching comedy TV and movies.

Crystal’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Cincinnati Christian University - Bachelors, Church Music/Piano Performance

Graduate Degree: East Carolina University - Masters, Piano Pedagogy

Hobbies

Playing/teaching piano, crocheting, fishing, cooking, and photography

Tutoring Subjects

Accompaniment

AP Music Theory

Art

Audition Prep

Elementary School Math

IB Music

Math

Music

Music Theory

Other

Personal Finance

Piano

Study Skills

Study Skills and Organization


Q & A

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

My goal for the first lesson is to learn about the student. "What would you rather be doing right now?" Getting to know a student's hobbies and interests is a great way to assess which teaching methods will best conform to their individual learning style.

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

Most of the time, the main reason why a student has difficulty learning or understanding a concept is because it has been repeatedly presented in a way that doesn't match the student's learning style. For example, a teacher may insist that students aurally drill multiplication facts. But for a visual student, a more effective approach may be to have them graph the facts so that they can get a visual picture of the steady exponential growth. For the artistic-minded student, perhaps setting the facts to music or assigning each number a specific dance move would help.

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

Information is best received and retained when stress levels are at a minimum. Therefore, I make every effort to create a low-key, low-stress environment for students. They are likely already experiencing some tension having to work with a new teacher. Talking about hobbies and interests is usually a good way to help students relax so that they can learn.

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

"What would you rather be doing right now?" If I ask that question to a student who is disengaged with math, for example, and they answer, "I'd rather be playing baseball," then I would start bringing in baseball examples to their practice questions. If the concept is finding percentages, then we'll start calculating the percentage of games won by his/her favorite team in any given season. If the concept is decimals, then we'll calculate the batting averages of his/her favorite player. The key is to relate the subject to a topic or interest with which the student can identify.

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

If you know it, then you can teach it. I like to "switch places" with students and have them teach me their new concepts. If they can retell the how's and why's, then it's highly likely that they've reached the level of mastery.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Some students learn better by reading, while others may need to hear the information. The key is to not only teach the concept, but also the technique(s) for learning the concept. Then the student can independently apply the same technique(s) to other subjects.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Success drives motivation. Therefore, if a student is gaining a sense of accomplishment with a specific subject, then the natural result is a desire to achieve even more.

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

My favorite method for aiding reading comprehension for the visual learner is to have the student search for and highlight keywords in the passage. For the active, or kinesthetic learner, using role-play or voice impressions can bring a narrative to life. Sometimes simply reading the passage aloud can bring new clarity to the aural learner.

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

Confidence is built through success. I like to ask students incredibly simple questions in the beginning to indirectly prove to them that they ARE smart and know quite a bit of information already. Sometimes I'll even intentionally make a mistake so that the student can correct me. For example, if I've been working with a student on adding fractions, I might pretend to not know what to do with 2 fractions having different denominators. Then the goal is to have the student "help" me find the common denominators and complete the problem. There's a certain measure of confidence that comes from being able to help others fix a problem.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

A needs assessment is done during the first lesson. Typically, there is a breakdown in the foundations of the subject that will need to be addressed. For example, a music student may request help with voice-leading, but the root of the problem may actually lie in a faulty understanding of intervals. Students' needs can also be made evident through the questions they ask. Again, it goes back to quizzing foundational concepts to see where the disconnect lies.

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

I do my best to adapt my teaching style to the student's personality. If a student is active, then I will take on a more animated teaching style. If the student is more reserved, I will keep my voice to a lower, more gentle volume and tone. I also use different teaching methods for different students. If the student is more visual, then I will spend more time "showing." If the student is an aural learner, I will focus on "talking" and "reading aloud." If a student is a kinesthetic learner, I will put "actions" and "movements" to the lesson.

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

The materials used greatly depends on the subject matter. In our current homeschool setting, we use a dry-erase board, textbooks/workbooks, flashcards, and blocks. In other settings, I use everything from rhythm instruments to board games.

What is your teaching philosophy?

My teaching philosophy is rooted in the idea of helping students reach their maximum academic potential by presenting and reinforcing concepts according to their individual learning styles.