I've had a varied business background ranging from executive positions in other people's companies to being an entrepreneur myself. The industries have varied from Energy to Technology, Payments to Publishing and several others. One common thread has been teaching new team members (more than 500) core skills required to be successful team members. I've taught people ranging from high school students to 50+ senior employees. My most important teaching strategy is to get to know the student and understand how they see the challenges they are facing. With that in mind, I look for ways to create a customized strategy that creates success by building on the skills of the student and tackling roadblocks in a steady and deliberate way.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Calgary - Bachelors, Finance
Graduate Degree: University of British Columbia - Masters, Strategy and Communications
International travel (I've lived in 6 countries), entrepreneurship, cooking, tennis.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
The foundation of good teaching is understanding a student in two ways: 1. their specific goals around the subject (how will they use it), and 2. what related experiences have they had that can be used as analogies to help retention and understanding of difficult new concepts? Building a plan around those two dimensions increases the likelihood of a successful teaching effort.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Learn about the student in the following ways: 1. why they are focused on their success in this subject area (how will the use it or why is it important)?, 2. their background and experiences that can be used to create relatable learning frameworks, and 3. their biggest roadblocks including time management, typical difficulty areas and favorite subjects.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
By focusing on process and fundamentals as much as the material itself. Much of learning is about approaching the subject with a strong plan and process. Equally important is getting the fundamentals right. With those two things in hand, a student can make great progress on their own, with supporting help from the tutor.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Motivation is about a sense of purpose and connection to future value. Understanding the student's goals and then building a connection between the subject and those goals is extraordinarily important to success.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
There are a few steps that can be taken: 1. Digging deeper to understand precisely what the roadblock is, 2. Finding ways to relate the challenging skill or concept to things they understand very well, 3. Taking a step by step approach to tackling the challenges and ensuring small successes along the way to build confidence.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Identifying the exact problem is very important: 1. Is it the terminology? Building vocabulary is a specific challenge that can be addressed. 2. Is it the sentence / paragraph structure? More complicated styles of writing can sometimes muddle the understanding of a passage of written material. Once the exact challenge is identified, I focus on conveying a process for comprehension of complex passages. Much of it has to do with noting important points and breaking down passages into more easily-handled smaller sections.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Getting to know the student's strengths and weaknesses .... and their interests and non-interests. Any teaching plan has to reflect the specific nature of the student -- that's how a 'success plan' is created -- by using the student's strengths and directly targeting their weaknesses, with realistic expectations on both sides.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
By creating small victories first, to build confidence and create intensity that allows for bigger leaps to be made. Also by connecting the subject their long-term goals -- with practical examples of how it will prove valuable in the future.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
By asking questions that require secondary thought about the material studied, rather than pure regurgitation. Asking the student to use the knowledge in a different way -- and to explain it in their own words.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Via steady progress and building a strong foundation of core skills. Once the core skills are in place, tackling advanced questions becomes more feasible, and confidence soon follows.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
By understanding three things: 1. their long-term goals in life, 2. understanding their past experiences and challenges, and 3. testing their skills with practical questions and probing where they are finding things difficult and easy.