I am passionate about helping students because without a thorough education, I would not be the person I am today. Education was at first something handed down to me from figures of authority. The more I studied and applied myself, however, a feeling ownership and agency began to develop. Education was less something handed down to me, and more something which I owed that I could engage in at any time. I want to help students discover how fun and how immeasurably valuable education can be, not because an authority figure told them so, but because they know this in their own heart. So far I've tried to impart this idea to students at CitySquash in the Bronx, and Harlem RBI in Manhattan, two programs which blend tutoring instruction and homework help with sports. Tutoring sessions were one-on-one for one to two hours per week.
I received my Bachelors in America Studies and in Communication and Media Studies from Fordham College Rose Hill in the Bronx. I'm saving money so that I can eventually enter a masters program in either Journalism, or History. I tutor the subjects of History (European, American, World - high school and AP level) and Language Arts (reading comp, writing, language and literature - high school and AP level). My favorite subject to tutor is American history. Bob Marley once said "A people without the knowledge of their past history and culture is like a tree without roots." As Americans (no matter when we arrived to this land) we need to understand thoroughly our history, so that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. We must see historical trends so that we can anticipate the future. We must nurture and grow our tree, and to do so we must know our roots.
My teaching philosophy revolves around the student learning to lead by himself or herself. Tutoring is temporary, and a student must learn to learn. Memorizing information is great for passing tests, but mastering methods of learning will help a student to succeed throughout his or her entire lifetime. So I try to show students how to learn more than just what to learn.
Outside of academia, I love music - reggae music, jazz music, hip hop music, electronic music, all music. I also play the drums, and attend concerts whenever I have the time and money. I enjoy practicing yoga, taking hikes and exploring New York's Hudson Valley. I devour books and one day want to write my own.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Fordham University - Bachelors, American Studies and Communication and Media Studies
SAT Composite (1600 scale): 1410
SAT Subject Test in U.S. History: 780
SAT Subject Test in Literature: 700
SAT Subject Test in World History: 800
Drumming, Hiking, Yoga, Reggae Music, Collecting Vinyl, Volunteering
Elementary School Reading
Elementary School Writing
High School English
High School Level American Literature
High School Writing
Middle School Reading
Middle School Reading Comprehension
Middle School Writing
SAT Subject Tests Prep
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe almost anyone can learn almost anything. This is especially true in the realm of history or social studies and reading/writing or language arts. Oftentimes, knowledge is presented in terms that are difficult to understand. That same knowledge, whether a set of historical facts or a method of editing grammar, can be presented in many different ways that may be easier to understand. Creating proper context and terminology for the information you are teaching is essential. The right context and presentation can change a perplexed and "stuck" student to a student who "gets it" and can go on to teach others!
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In a first session with a student, I would try to achieve a sense of how they learn. To do this, I would first assess the student's level of reading comprehension, so that I can understand how well that student is retaining the information we will soon go over together. I would also perform an exercise or two to gauge the students writing ability, because this, too, will show me how the student learns. From there I would pick their brains to find what aspects of the subject matter excite the student, and which aspects frighten the student. This way, I'll know which aspects of the subject matter I'll need to focus more on. By learning which aspects of the subject excite a student, I'll be able to focus on what makes that student excited when/if the students begins to struggle in another area.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I can help a student become an independent learner by communicating one simple but important truth to them. In history and language, facts and individual bits of information are critical, yes, but what is more important is developing a method of learning those facts. For example, knowing that Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination helped catalyze WWI is a critical piece of information. But if you knew that European states were extremely competitive with one another because of their colonial scuffles around the world, you would understand then that while the Archduke's assassination "started" the war, WWI was actually a product of a series of events and attitudes which led up to it. So in history, understanding themes and trends will help a student in the long run more than memorizing specific sets of facts, though the latter is important, too. So comprehending trends and themes is a method of learning history. If a student can comprehend and begin to practice this, they're one large step closer to becoming an independent learner.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I would help a student stay motivated by relating the subject material to something which the student is passionate about. That way, even when the student is in the academic trenches, studying and studying, the subject material will be related in some way to the student's own passions, keeping them inspired and motivated. For example, let's say a student loves music, but they are struggling to comprehend the Gilded Age in American history, and the Populist response to it. One could show the student examples of folk and blues music, and show them how the music is a reflection of the historical trends of that period. One could do the same thing with sports, fashion, media, design, etc. There are other ways of motivating students, but I believe the most effective way is to connect the subject material to a student's own passions and interests.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I believe this depends on the type of difficulty the student is having. For one thing, I would change up the context and presentation of the information, and I'd push the student to change the method they are using to learn the specific skill or concept. Einstein said that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results in the definition of insanity. So first things first, I would change the playing field and try to introduce the skill or concept in a new context, and I would pressure the student to refresh their mind and look at the skill or concept from a different angle, one easier to understand.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
It may be the equivalent of throwing someone into the deep end and hope that they learn how to swim, but I would help a student with reading comprehension by creating a small, simple quiz for them for each passage of reading they complete. For example, if a student's homework is to read one chapter in their history textbook, I would then craft a small quiz about a few specific parts of that assigned reading, and give them the quiz before we do anything else during our session. I'll then go over the quiz with them, focusing on what they got right and what they got wrong, then revisiting the textbook to see where that information was, and how exactly they "missed" it. Over time, the student will learn to pay closer attention while reading, and be more "present" while reading so that the information is retained.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
The number one strategy I have found as successful is developing a quasi-friendship with the student. Friendship may even be too strong of a word - "friendly" relationship is more appropriate. Students want confirmation of their success, but they are more reluctant to receive confirmation of their failure. By having a friendly relationship in which laughter and safely-on-topic banter is encouraged, I can relate a student's academic success and failure to them without either inflating or deflating their confidence too much. While I am an "authority" as a tutor, I prefer to make the student feel as if we are equals, and as if we are learning together. In my experience, this inevitably makes the student more comfortable, which breathes air into their minds (metaphorically), and ultimately makes it easier for them to learn and retain information.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
If a student is struggling to stay engaged with a subject, I would make that subject engaging. This may take some prying in the form of a slightly off-topic conversation, but I would search and search for a connection between the subject matter, and the student's own interests. In addition, I would search for one small aspect of the subject matter that perhaps also exists in popular culture. Perhaps it's a phrase or saying like "Let Them Eat Cake" just before the French Revolution, and I can then show the student how that phrase pops up in popular culture. The key to engagement is to make the student care about the subject matter, and the easiest way to do that is by somehow connecting the subject matter to something they already inherently care about.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
There are a number of techniques which I could use like pop quizzes, short essays, or timed assignments. I think perhaps the best way to ensure that the student understands the material is to have a conversation about the material. The degree to which a student can participate in and hopefully lead a conversation about the material will determine how well they understand it. If I notice that our conversation if one-sided, with me doing most of the talking, then the student probably does not understand enough. But if the student is conversing about subject matter with confidence and candor, I'll know that he or she understands the material. I can also do this by asking the student to write, but I'm sure the student will enjoy the process more if we have a "casual conversation". They'll think it's casual, but as the conversation goes on I'll be able to tell by their degree of confidence and their tone of voice and pace of speech and breadth of facts, whether or not they comprehend the material.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
You build a student's confidence by helping them see that they know the material. By offering constant opportunities for the student to "prove" himself or herself, eventually he or she will realize that they're on the ball. At first the student may be discouraged if they fail these assessments, but with each assessment the student will hopefully do a little bit better. Over time they will see marked improvement, realizing that they themselves made it from point A to point B.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I adapt my tutoring to a student's needs by maintaining the ability to switch gears whenever necessary. I have a style and techniques, but if my techniques and style go nowhere in helping a student learn and grow within a subject, then I'm comfortable switching my style and turning to new techniques and methods, and I'm confident in my ability to pull this off. Being flexible in the way you present and the way you tutor is a necessity.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I typically use textbooks, primary, secondary or outside sources (I have a huge personal library, and if any material, be it a history book or a writing handbook like the "Elements of Style", would be advantageous to a student, I'll use that material), paper, and the mind and voice of the student himself or herself. Perhaps it's "old fashioned", but I shy away from the use of technology when tutoring. I'm capable of employing it, but I choose not to. I believe books (and like I said this can be a broad amount of sources), paper, pen, and the student's own mind are sufficient for full comprehension. To "jazz it up" when necessary, and create greater engagement and enthusiasm, I'll introduce music into the lesson, or a short video clip if it is extremely relevant, but only then.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I evaluate a student's needs by giving them an opportunity to show their skills. Where I notice they are lacking is where I know we must improve. If the student lacks the confidence or the ability to even seize the opportunity to prove themselves, then I'll know that their needs are very great. I'll study their work diligently after and before sessions to pinpoint specific areas in which their knowledge is vague or non-existent, and I'll also keep an eye toward areas where they excel, so that I can avoid focusing on those areas so that the lessons don't become redundant.