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Brendan

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I tutor because I realize writing can be difficult and unapproachable, but it doesn???t have to be. I want to show students that clear, effective language is within their grasp.

I also studied biology back in college, so while I'm not QUITE up to snuff to be a tutor for bio (yet), I hope to study up and sharpen the biology saw to further help students.

I graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a double degree in journalism and biology. I???ve written for several newspapers, magazines, and websites. I???ve been lucky to win several awards and honors for my narrative work.

While at Goucher College, I earned my MFA in creative nonfiction, thus strengthening my skills in writing and editing.

I???m the author of ???Six Weeks in Saratoga: How Three-Year-Old Filly Rachel Alexandra Beat the Boys and Became Horse of the Year??? and the forthcoming memoir ???The Tools of Ignorance: A Memoir of My Father and Baseball.??? I also host a podcast titled #CNF, a conversation with writings and filmmakers about creating works of nonfiction.

In my spare time, I enjoy hiking with my wife and dogs, kayaking, running, weight training, doing newspaper blackout poems, and, above all, reading and writing.

Working with students should be fun as we look to unpack the English language in an accessible way. Why? Because no matter what field a person elects, clarity and skill with the written word will translate into success across ANY discipline.

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Brendan’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: University of Massachusetts Amherst - Bachelors, Biology and Journalism

Graduate Degree: Goucher College - Masters, Creative Nonfiction

Hobbies

Hiking, kayaking, reading, writing, cooking, making donuts

Tutoring Subjects

American Literature

College Application Essays

College English

College Level American Literature

English

English Grammar and Syntax

Essay Editing

High School Biology

High School English

High School Level American Literature

High School Writing

Middle School Writing

Other

Public Speaking

Writing

Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

To be the student's advocate and work at a pace that suits the individual.

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

Have a casual back and forth to assess goals so we can draw up the best strategy to achieve those goals.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Be patient. Work through the problem. Trust your preparation.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

By having a clear focus on the end goal, keeping that goal in sight, and never forgetting why that goal means so much.

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

Slow down and unpack the problem. There's no shame in having to slow down! It doesn't mean they're not smart. Some things take a few extra moments to sink in, maybe entire lessons, but that work is often rewarded in long-term retention.

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

Maybe isolate each sentence. Sometimes, the entire block of prose is intimidating to look at. So, we'll slow down and take it brick by brick.

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

Find a back-door example to illustrate a point. If they don't like writing, maybe show them the brilliant writing done on a television show they enjoy. It's easy to forget that those are written. In that sense, we can unpack basic literary principles in a more visual context, and then circle back to the written word.

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

Ensure the student has a full grasp of the material before graduating to the next task. Again, it all boils down to slowing down the process and pinpointing the exact spots that are log-jamming further mastery.

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

Small victories along the way. Each rung on the ladder is its own success that must be celebrated on the path to the ultimate goal.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

In that first conversation, have the student explain/define why they've come to a tutor. There was a reason, and once we find that distilled reason, we can evaluate the needs based on the goals at hand.

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

The best athletic coaches don't use the same motivational tactics with each player. Some need more aggressive approaches, while others need a more benign approach. As a tutor, you read the situation and see what style the student positively responds to. Check all ego at the door.

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

Books, essays, and maybe even some well-written television and movies.

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

Finding out what engages them. Each person has his or her own style for absorbing lessons, as each tutor has a style for bestowing lessons. That overlap is where you'll find growth.

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