Sarah graduated from Cornell University with a degree in natural resources and received her initial teaching license for mathematics from Boston University. Since then she has taught 6th grade math and science in Massachusetts and many subjects in the state of California including Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, 8th grade math, 7th grade math, AP Chem, AP Bio, Chemistry, Biology, and Marine Biology. She recently moved to Washington DC to continue her career in education with DC public schools. She is on Varsity Tutors after school and on weekends. Sarah has always had a passion for sharing her love of math and science with students. She has a firmly held belief that everyone can be good at math and science if they have the right mindset and teacher.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Anyone is capable of being successful in math and science if they have an open mind and the right teacher.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In a first session, I would help the student set goals and discuss what they perceive as their strengths and weaknesses in math or science. We will specifically work on building confidence in those perceived weak points.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
By teaching them how to ask good questions, how to stay organized, and how to persevere through difficult problems.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I don't let students give up. The motivation will come from when they think they can't do a problem and they end up successfully completing it.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Reconsider my approach to teaching that student that concept. When a student doesn't understand, it is usually the teacher's fault. I would develop a new method to teach that concept.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
This is important for word problems. I have several reading comprehension-focused ways to break down word problems that I will teach students.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I want students to feel comfortable with me so that they can be successful. If they don't feel comfortable, they won't ask questions and they won't learn. I try to get to know them and let them get to know me. I use topics they are interested in for examples whenever I can.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I LOVE math and science. That alone helps students with engagement. I also try to use examples they can relate to. For example, if the student likes basketball, I will use this to relay math concepts.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I am a believer in making students explain concepts back to me. Once I have taught a concept and shown the student an example, I will have them re-explain the concept to me and complete a problem.