One of the most challenging aspects of teaching is to make every student who walks into the classroom excited about learning. There is no one method in which this can be accomplished which means that a teacher must learn to instinctively know how to best make a lesson successful. In my experience, even the most distant child can become excited about science if it is presented in a way that relates to them. For this reason, I strive to make every lesson educationally valuable to all students by linking each concept to real life issues. It is so rewarding to see a student who was supposedly "weak" in science, become deeply involved in a scientific experiment that has sparked their interest.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: The University of Texas at Austin - Bachelors, Biology, General
Graduate Degree: The University of Texas at Austin - Masters, Science Education
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
First and foremost, my goal as a teacher is to provide the structure and motivation to help students obtain greater academic success. I believe that all students can learn, but also acknowledge that there are many distractions in the lives of students that keep them from achieving their potential. By providing a reason for learning the material, and adding enjoyment to the learning process, I hope to help diminish some of these distractions. My philosophy is that the quality of the teacher is reflected by the attitudes of the students as they walk out the door.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I will assess a student's needs and see how I can best serve as a tutor. We will discuss their progress in their class so far, any difficulties they might be having, and decide on a strategy that can be implemented to help them reach their goals.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Many students today are not taught how to study. This is a learned skill that can be taught and applied to almost any subject. In sessions, I will help the student learn the content needed to be successful in their course, and I will also show them study methods that they can use to be successful in classes they are taking.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
The key here is to set attainable goals. It's easy to just say I want an "A" on my next test, but it can be disheartening if it doesn't happen right away. Instead of focusing on the grade, I believe it is better to focus on the actions that can help a student attain those goals. For example, we may set a goal for you to annotate one chapter every day for the topic the student is covering. We could also watch three tutorial videos every week in order to support their studies. I believe that this line of thought is much more motivating and effective that simply wishing for a good grade.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
There is no topic that cannot be understood if explained in the right way. When I have students that are having difficulties with a certain topic, I will do my best to find a real world situation or scenario that it can be applied to. For example, the human immune system can be a tremendously complex subject. However, if you can compare it to an attack on a country by foreign invaders then it is easy to see the lymphocytes as ground troops acting to destroy pathogens, and macrophages as large army tanks, taking out anything they can find that doesn't belong.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Often times, it really helps students to have certain passages read aloud to them. Many of the textbooks are not written for the average reader, and are weighed down with jargon that prevent comprehension. Having someone to help break down the content and present it in an easier to understand format is sometimes the key to true understanding.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Many times I will ask a student to explain what their understanding of a topic is from what they have learned in class. I will then ask questions to guide their thinking, and I will fill in gaps in their knowledge to help complete the picture.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I like to find out what my students are interested in. Whether they are a dancer, an athlete, or a gamer, I will try to relate the topic to something they care about so that it will be more likely to stay in their brain when it comes time to take a test.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I will help with practice questions, show students helpful tutorial videos, and help fill in any missing knowledge necessary for a mastery of a subject. I may then have the student act as a teacher and pretend to tutor me. It is said that you do not truly understand a topic until you can teach it.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
If you can understand the topic on a deeper level, then you are more likely to be confident in it. Anyone can memorize a series of facts, but until you actually understand the background behind those facts, then the memorization won't really help you.