I received my bachelors in General Biology from UC San Diego and worked as a math and science tutor during my first two years of college. After graduating I did some tutoring with reading and ESL and took some coursework for a teaching certificate at Eastern State University. I then chose to pursue a career in public health where I now work in communicable disease epidemiology.
I have always loved teaching and, while working in public health, I also coached volleyball at a variety of levels for elementary aged beginners to the high school varsity level. I have done this for 16 years and am now looking at getting back to my roots of academic tutoring as way to return to teaching. What I love most about teaching is finding how to relate the subject to things already in the students life and, in that, hopefully better teach critical thinking and develop a lasting interest in the subject.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of California-San Diego - Bachelors, General Biology
Graduate Degree: Southern California University of Health Sciences - PHD, Doctorate in Chiropractic
crew, coaching volleyball
Elementary School Math
Elementary School Science
High School Biology
Mac Basic Computer Skills
Middle School Science
Technology and Computer Science
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My role as a teacher is to find the way to make the subject that I teach real and personal so that my students want to dive into the subject.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I think you can help any student become more independent by teaching critical thinking skills rather than focusing on the problem in front of them. Those critical thinking skills can be applied to more difficult and varied problems.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I think one key to motivation is to build a bridge from the subject to the hobbies and interests that the student loves. If you can create that bridge then motivation becomes internal.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would do a couple of things if a student is having some challenges. I think you can first try to simplify the problem to better achieve understanding. I would also try to have them figure things out with a variety of related problems that force the student to look at the topic from different points of view.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
If I was dealing with reading comprehension issues, I would first try to check for understanding with some questions related to vocabulary to see if that is the issue. If that is not the issue then I would ask a number of open-ended "why" questions to see what the student is getting out of the reading. In some cases, the student may have a different interpretation that is not wrong, but just different based on that student's past experiences or knowledge.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I think it is important with the first visits with a student create a safe environment to ask questions, as well as to fail. A student who is tentative, or feels like he or she could look stupid, is a student who is going to make slower progress compared to a student who doesn't feel like he/she is taking a risk with the answers that they put forward.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I think the key to getting excited about a subject is to bridge it to an interest that the student already has. Show that relationship and the student becomes more engaged with the subject.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I think you have to check for understanding on a regular basis. Depending on the subject, this may be asking open-ended questions where the student has to answer the "why" and "how" questions related to a subject.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Confidence is built through success, and it is the teacher's role to find a way to create easy avenues for success. Some students can do several steps at once, and others need to go through those same steps one at a time. It is the teacher's job to set the demands so that there is a challenge, but ultimately a high measure of success. This does not mean everyone should get 100%, but instead everyone should feel like they can be successful if they work hard at the material.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I would start to evaluate students needs by asking a few open-ended questions to see where they find success and where they struggle. I would also like to see how the student learns best, and see how the student studies at home.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
As a tutor, you can adapt your teaching to the student's needs by adjusting the pace that you go through material, as well as try to adjust the subject to be more compatible with the student's learning style.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I typically use old-fashioned pen and paper for many subjects. I think there are a number of good options for the sciences in using videos from the Internet to look at things visually, as well as to see applications of principles.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would spend my first session with my student trying to understand the student's learning styles, as well as their perception of why they struggle with the subject. I also want to create an environment where the student feels safe to fail or struggle while he/she is working through problems in the subject area.