I'm a small business owner, coach, and until very recently I joke I've been a "professional student" (I went straight from undergrad to graduate school). I have a BS in Environmental Science from Juniata College and two MS degrees from Oregon State (Water Policy and Management and Geography) as well as a Conflict Resolution Certificate also from OSU.
I love learning, am passionate about helping people succeed (seeing others have "lightbulb moments" is one of my favorite things), and have worked with students ranging from middle school aged, to college freshman through seniors, graduate students, and to adults.
I was a TA and instructor during graduate school at Oregon State University (an environmental science/sustainability intensive writing course called Sustainability for the Common Good) for 3 years (2012-2015) and was also a TA and private tutor for 2 years during undergrad at Juniata College (2010-2012).
My husband and I recently moved to Alexandria, VA but I have also lived in the Bay Area in California, was born and raised in Oregon, and went to school in small town Pennsylvania, and spent a short while living in Vermont while my husband was in school there.
I believe my teaching strengths are patience, excitement, and having a multitude of ways to convey information that help you learn. If my initial teaching techniques do not work for you I will find another way- because YOUR learning style is one of the keys to success in education (I've found it's true in coaching, too!). I enjoy working with people in person and am excited to do online tutoring as well.
My areas of expertise that I enjoy tutoring are environmental and earth sciences, general science, biology, ecology, geography, communication, writing and editing (including grammar, style, sentence and essay structure), English, public speaking (I do this often for my job, too), nutrition, and basic computer skills. I'm also very interested and have much experience with HOW to learn, study, and stay organized (this is necessary for a small business owner!). I've tried numerous techniques and styles personally and helped people, "learn how to learn." This is an area I've done a lot of work in personally and have also helped students, friends, and colleges.
I've very excited to work with new, enthusiastic students who are willing to learn and work through challenges!
I'm also an athlete (volleyball is my main sport but I'm gaining an interest in rowing and boxing), coach, avid reader, music lover, and dog mom of a 9 year old Weimaraner named Penelope.
I look forward to getting to know you and am excited to work with you!
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Juniata College - Bachelors, Environmental Science
Graduate Degree: Oregon State University - Masters, Water Policy & Management
Graduate Degree: Oregon State University - Masters, Geography
Volleyball, coaching, yoga, mediation and facilitation, travel, hiking, reading, backpacking, walking and loving my dogs, crochet, and cooking
High School English
High School Geography
High School Writing
Middle School Science
Middle School Writing
PC Basic Computer Skills
Study Skills and Organization
Technology and Computer Science
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe in helping students succeed by using their personal strengths. I teach by moving with the flow of what a person enjoys, is comfortable with, and knows is effective for them. I am a flexible teacher in that way. I also believe in students finding the answers on their own as much as possible because understanding and working through the process is really what makes for deep learning. My role is to provide accurate information and knowledge, of course, but largely to ask the right questions, help students learn how to think through problems, and facilitate during a tutoring session.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
During a first session, I will ask a student their goals for tutoring. I will ask short, medium, and long-term goals (if applicable, e.g., understand the concepts of weathering better this week, get a B in a geometry this term, or go to college/grad school for Biology). We will also talk about a schedule for them- individually and during tutoring- to help them achieve these goals. I will also ask about learning styles. Are you an auditory learner? Visual? Does writing things out make them 'stick' in your mind? I'll talk with a student about what techniques they've tried, what has worked/not, and explore other ideas and techniques that may help them succeed.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
To help a student become an independent learner I will provide them with concrete sources they can turn to if they get stuck. For example, by providing any websites I know of that have additional learning material and also discussing how they can find strong, helpful websites themselves. Much of my teaching style also relies on asking questions, rather than just giving answers, and helping students tackle problems step by step to better understand processes. I also strongly encourage them to ask their own questions, which carries over into individual study and learning.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Declines in motivation are unique to each person. The first thing I would do is talk about where the lack of motivation is coming from. Maybe they are bored and the material isn't engaging. Perhaps they just got back an exam and didn't do as well as they thought. Identifying these triggers, which make motivation decrease, is the first step. Once we can identify the issue(s), I help a student make a plan and change our tutoring sessions/styles as needed. In the two earlier examples, respectively, I may find useful online videos for the student to watch, or go over difficult questions from the exam so they turn weak points into strengths for the final exam. I'll also often encourage students to talk with their professors when there are issues about test scores (or a variety of other issues), because building a positive, interactive relationship with one's teacher can be very important to maintain motivation.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I will try teaching the skill or concept in a variety of ways. This may be explaining it from a new angle, applying an analogy, breaking it down into segments differently than they have done before, finding an online video, and making it hands on and more real rather than conceptual. Ideally, new techniques would be based around previously identified, effective learning strategies for the individual student, but when a student is still building their "learning styles toolbox" I will try numerous ways to see what best works for the individual student.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Listening. Listening to students cannot be overstated because it allows me to really hear their needs, goals, and what works well for them. No two students are alike and teaching/tutoring strategies will be different for each individual. That being said, some concrete techniques I have found useful in the early stages of tutoring include asking students to talk me through their thought process while completing problems or working with certain concepts, identifying areas that are lacking knowledge (e.g. facts, formulas, etc.) versus conceptual understanding, and asking students to restate questions, concepts, and ideas using their own words.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
To get students excited about a subject they're struggling in, I try and relate it to their own lives. For example, if they're doing geography, I'll talk about examples from their hometown or work with maps of their school/neighborhood to make it more personal. I'll also ask what they are excited about and interested in and bring it into the tutoring sessions. For example, with athletes, I like using sport-based examples. Or if they're into music, I'll incorporate their favorite artist. I will also try and highlight successes. It is much easier for us to get excited/engaged when we feel we're good at something and succeeding, so part of my job is to remind students of their successes, especially when they're struggling. This is because when people struggle that is all they focus on: the struggle. Therefore, I will remind them of their "wins" and show them how far they've progressed (ideally by referencing personal goals they set out at the onset of tutoring).
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I often ask students to put material/questions/concepts into their own words. I'll say, for example, "Explain the process of photosynthesis to me" and ask them to draw the process as they talk through it. I will also ask students to put the material into a larger context to see that they understand where it lies "in the grand scheme of things." For example, if they're learning about the water cycle, I'll ask questions about how a change in atmospheric conditions may influence it. I often ask real-world questions, too. For example, using the water cycle again, what changes would you expect to see in the water cycle in the instance of a large flood? Or if a large city were built in area X? Or for nutrition, if an athlete wants to change their training to increase muscle, what would you recommend they do in terms of their eating habits? Finally, I'll also ask for comparisons between similar but different concepts to ensure they're keeping such concepts straight.