I am a teacher who is very dedicated to the academic and personal success of my students. To quote Vidal Sassoon, "If you don't look good, I don't look good."
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Columbia College - Bachelors, Psychology
Graduate Degree: Northcentral University - PHD, Psychology
Fitness, reading, Indie Films, dogs, cats, walking, cooking.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Learning begins with building relationships. A teacher cannot expect students to be attuned to concepts and principles of the curriculum if they do not feel there is a purpose for their being in the classroom. Passing the course is not an objective, nor is it a purpose. Students should look forward to entering the classroom whether it is a subject excelled in or one in which they have had previous failures. The teacher at the podium makes that distinction. A teacher who effectively builds meaningful and lasting relationships with students is the teacher who sees the best work ethic, attitudes, and performance of each student. Students can sense when a teacher is excited about the art of teaching, and the empowerment of learning. This dynamic combination is experienced fully when students know the individual at the podium has a stake in student outcomes, personal as well as academic. Even in larger instructional environments, the teacher who is well-versed in the skill of relationship building can generate a positive and personal force with students, thus engaging them on both the personal and academic levels. When students see the investment of self on the part of their teacher, then they are more likely to invest themselves. The academic success of students is predicated upon many factors. The level of education and teaching skills of the teacher is never to be minimized; however, individuals who leave the halls of academia for their prospective professions do not remember the teacher whose students had the highest test scores, they remember the teacher who had the ability to make that student feel seen and heard.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would spend a significant amount of time gaining an awareness of how the student feels about his or her academic and subject matter strengths and weaknesses. I would also want to know what the student likes to do in their free time, because I would find some way of incorporating these interests into our sessions.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I help students to become independent learners by linking what is studied or read to areas of interest earlier identified. I have the student "research" a topic for later discussion. It has always worked amazingly well. Students like to feel they have a choice in their learning.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I keep my students motivated by keeping them aware. The smallest improvements often remain small if they go unrecognized. If a student makes a one-point gain, I am all over that with praise.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
If a student has difficulty grasping a concept, my first task is to evaluate how I am presenting the concept. I then analyze the student's perception of the skill and how I may have helped steer that in the wrong direction. Asking the student questions about how he or she perceives, what was clear vs. what was confusing, and also what I need to do to help the student better understand.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
When students struggle with reading comprehension, it is often not due to a learning deficit, but a lack of exposure to reading. Read alouds with students, even high school students, improve reading skills. Additionally, research supports that poor writers are often poor readers. I would include grammar with reading to aid the student in identifying elements of sentences, and paragraphs so he or she can link the two together.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Before assigning any strategy to a student, I first must know the student. Forming a relationship with the student is basic, and is the tried and true strategy for me. After that... it just seems everything else falls into place.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
If a student is restless or does not "like" reading, I am certainly not going to assign him or her Shakespeare. I am a firm believer that helping students connect with a topic is the best way to get him or her involved. Making the subject/topic relative to his or her life through discussion, videos, related films, television, and current events is essential to helping students to connect and get excited.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
In order to be sure students understand material, I ask open-ended questions, and also questions that will require the student to synthesize what has been learned to another situation. I value written responses over multiple choice. Even with multiple choice questions, I require the students to justify their answers with textual evidence or an explanation/example.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
A student's confidence in his or her ability to perform well in a subject is key. If a student feels he or she is going to fail "anyway", then the student may not even attempt. This is where recognition of small gains can lead to larger gains. Also keeping the student not only apprised of progress but keeping a portfolio that shows progress beyond the numbers in the grade book will provide the student with a qualitative measure of growth.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
The best way to evaluate a student's needs is to ask. However, sometimes a student is like a pot of soup. It may look properly seasoned, but until you test it, you have no idea of what is needed. The creative and intuitive teacher, like the creative and intuitive cook, will try different "ingredients" to improve or enhance results.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
It is very important to understand that students are not "cookie cutter". Each comes with a different set of strengths and weaknesses. It is not up to the student in a tutoring session to adapt, but for the teacher to adapt and help the student to pace him or herself, which will also include, with time, improving pace and striving for more rigor.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
The materials used in a session will depend upon the topic or skill set upon which we are building. I do make use of technology and interfaces when working with students. I am quite sure that these will be much more interesting and engaging than a "Face-time" tutorial.