A photo of Patrick, a tutor from Marquette University

Patrick

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I would like to help you become a good writer.
I’m an editor and writer who has edited and written words in just about every form they travel in. Ten years as reporter and an editor at Milwaukee Journal (now the Journal Sentinel). Twenty years as owner-operator of national multi-media business. Have written books, edited books, and published books, including bestsellers, and have written TV scripts. Have edited more than 100 books and tens of thousands of news and feature articles. Taught writing at two universities, one college, one community college, and have tutored grade school and high school students, college students, and adults. Degree in journalism, grad study in history.


Patrick’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Marquette University - Bachelors, Journalism

Hobbies

The only thing I do that resembles a hobby is write poetry. I used to play a lot of baseball. These days, I watch other people play it. I’m interested in a lot of things. Here, in alphabetical order, are a few. art, baseball, coffee, dogs, elephants, football, genealogy, history, ice cream, journalism, Kool- Aid, literature, Mozart, news, October, politics, quizzes, rock, Shakespeare, tennis, UW, Vancouver, wife-son-daughter-granddaughter, can’t think of one, yellow, zoos. I could go through the alphabet a couple more times, but I won’t.

Tutoring Subjects

Adult ESL/ELL

CLEP Prep

CLEP History of the United States II: 1865 to the Present

College Application Essays

College English

English

English Grammar and Syntax

Essay Editing

High School English

High School Writing

Journalism

Middle School Writing

Other

Study Skills

Study Skills and Organization

Test Prep

World Literature

Writing


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I believe anyone can become a good writer. When I tutor I set a high bar, then I very patiently and deliberately help the student or students clear that bar.

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

I would learn what the person wants or needs to accomplish, and I would want to know what the student's ability is currently at in the subject. If the subject is writing, I can very quickly figure out what the goals of a session would be, and I will know what might be the best way to reach those goals. Then, in that first session, I would aim to get pretty far along the path in order to reach those goals.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

With writing, the term "independent learner" translates to "editor." As I teach writing, I also teach the person how to edit his or her own work. When editing, a person has to know what to look for. One way I get that across during tutoring sessions is by using editing as a primary method of teaching writing, and often I edit something the person has written in the same way I would edit something written by a professional writer. As I edit, I explain to the student why I am making each change. Becoming a skilled editor provides another benefit: it makes a person a much better writer, because he or she knows what to avoid in their writing.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Success is a great motivator. People like to do what they're good at, and I know from experience that people I work with can get good at writing. I give praise frequently, and I point out, often in detail, the ways the student has improved. The more the student improves the more the student is motivated.

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

If it's an important concept, I calmly and patiently go at it, sometimes from different perspectives or angles, until the student gets it. If it's not an important concept, I might move on and come back to it later. I don't want a student's learning progress snagged on an unimportant concept.

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

I offer tips. I've had success advising students to read more slowly, and I've had success advising students who are having trouble comprehending material to read difficult sections several times until the material becomes pretty clear. I ask students what helps them understand the material, and then devise strategies based on their answers.

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

It depends on what we're trying to accomplish at the time. For example, if I'm working with a person whose writing is murky and unclear, I've found that it helps to get across the idea that when you start to write you don't have to shift into a stiff, formal gear. Sometimes I might ask them how they would communicate this idea to me over lunch? What words would they use? A little philosophy helps. At the outset, I explain that there's nothing mysterious or grandiose about writing, it's just communication and that anybody should feel comfortable doing it.

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

One method of maintaining motivation is making sure that all sessions are interesting; one of the greatest killers of enthusiasm is boredom. One successful method is to have students write about topics that they are enthusiastic about.

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

As with any skill subject, you can see how well the student is learning the ins and outs of good writing by looking at each new piece and noting whether the student is doing the right things and avoiding the wrong things.

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

When teaching writing, I usually use just a pencil and paper or a word processor. Sometimes I use editing exercises I devised that are designed to teach students what to look for when editing their own work, or somebody else's work. I may direct them to other resources also.

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

Many of the students who sign up for tutoring in writing do so because they're concerned about passing or getting a good grade in a particular class. In tutoring such student, I pay particular attention to such things as the wording a student's instructor has used in making an assignment, and I am careful to make sure that what the student writes fulfills the requirements of the assignment. At the same time, I aim to help the student develop a skill that will serve him or her well in life because the ability to write is crucial in many careers. I go considerably beyond just what it will take to get the student through the class.

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

There are a number of ways to boost a student's confidence. One is to keep up a steady procession of positive comments about positive things the student does. Another is by performing my role in such a way that the student understands that I know what I'm doing and realizes that I will help him or her master the skill I'm teaching.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

A good writer or writing teacher can determine what a student's needs are by looking critically at their writing. Like any professional whose role is to help someone fulfill needs, I learn students' needs by listening carefully and taking them seriously.