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I have been teaching literature and writing courses for seventeen years. I earned my Bachelor's degree in English from NYU, and I went on to complete a Ph. D in English at Stony Brook University. I am extremely passionate about my subject. I love interacting with my students, and helping them to feel more confident in their reading and writing skills. I have been helping students to navigate the college admissions process, including preparing for standardized tests and writing the college essay, since I began teaching. My primary motivation is to do anything I can to help each student accomplish his or her goals .

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Coleen’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: New York University - Bachelors, English

Graduate Degree: Stony Brook University - PHD, English


Reading, travel, yoga, knitting and crocheting.

Tutoring Subjects

ACT English

ACT Reading

ACT Writing

Adult Literacy

American Literature

College English

College Level American Literature

Elementary School Reading

Elementary School Writing


English Grammar and Syntax

Essay Editing

Graduate Test Prep


GRE Analytical Writing

High School English

High School Level American Literature

High School Writing

Middle School Reading

Middle School Reading Comprehension

Middle School Writing


SAT Reading

SAT Subject Test in Literature

SAT Subject Tests Prep

Test Prep


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I always approach students with an enthusiastic, friendly, patient, and optimistic attitude. My goal is to help students achieve success. I tailor my techniques to suit the needs of my students, as I strongly believe that individuals learn in different ways, and the key is to find what works for each individual.

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

I would get to know the student, including the student's interests, goals, and expectations. I would ask the student to identify his or her strengths and weaknesses, and what he or she hopes to accomplish through working together. I would also ask the student for a sample of his or her work so that I can get an idea of the level at which the student is currently working, and build a plan for improvement.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

I believe that being organized is crucial to becoming an independent learner. In addition to teaching the content area, I help students learn how to prioritize and manage tasks, devise a plan to get all work done on time, and develop good study habits that will help students work more efficiently.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Every student is different, and not all students are motivated in the same way. Some students need a supportive cheerleader. Some students need a gentle nudge to stay on track. Other students need a sterner (but kind!) approach. I will learn what works for each student, and no matter what, I will bring a positive, supportive, and enthusiastic attitude to tutoring sessions.

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

If a student has difficulty with a particular concept, the student might need more practice to master the concept. Mastering it might be a matter of time and practice. However, sometimes a different approach is required, and I am always willing to explore ways of communicating a concept to a student.

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

Struggling with a subject can be frustrating and disheartening. As a student builds confidence in his or her skills, the subject should become more enjoyable. I try my best to make the work helpful but also fun or interesting to the student. For example, work on reading comprehension can include reading selections that reflect a student's interests.

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

There are many techniques to use to ensure that a student understands the material. If I need to do a quick check to see if we can move on during a lesson, I can ask the student to explain a concept to me in his or her own words. A more in-depth check for understanding might include asking a student to do a task on his or her own, and then explain how he or she came up with the answer. If the student has not yet mastered the material, we can continue to review it.

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

Building confidence is all about recognizing and celebrating small wins. Tackling a difficult subject is a huge undertaking, and it can be stressful or overwhelming to think about all the work that needs to be done. I prefer to emphasize small but consistent improvements, which helps students to build the foundation that will eventually lead to mastery of the material.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I like to first hear about what a student thinks his or her strengths and weaknesses are and what the student's goals are. Then, I like to get a sample of the student's work to get a sense of how strong his or her skills are. Once I understand a student's needs and goals and have a sense of what the student is capable of, I can devise a plan for that student.

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

First, the texts we practice with should be an appropriate level. It is best to work with reading passages that are challenging, but not too overwhelming to the student. Working together, we can identify areas of the passage the student finds difficult, and break down the language to make it more easily understandable. There are many strategies that students find helpful to strengthen reading comprehension, such as listening to the text aloud and following along, annotating or highlighting important details, pausing to discuss vocabulary, summarizing the text in one's own words, and making predictions about what might come next.

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

I have found that it is helpful to students to first model a skill by showing the student how I do it and then practicing the skill together, and lastly, once a student feels confident, ask the student to perform the skill on his or her own.

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

For English and writing topics, we will need a text or a topic to write about (which I will provide unless a student prefers to work on an assignment from school), a pen or pencil, and highlighters.

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

I firmly believe that everyone learns differently, and what works for one student might not work for another. I will ask each student to tell me how they think they learn best and, starting from there, explore other strategies that might work as well. Lesson plans can be adapted to suit a student's learning style; some students process information more easily with visuals, some students prefer a lesson that is more auditory. Differentiating lessons is important to ensuring that every student gets what he or she needs from a tutoring session.

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