A photo of Tor, a tutor from St Johns College- Santa Fe

Tor

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Hello!
I'm Tor (like "Thor" without the "h"),


I'm happy to help you think through whatever you're working on.

I have lived all over the country, and work with students in many different ways. I have worked as a wilderness guide in the deserts of Utah, an English teacher in crowded China, a writing tutor for college students, and even a meditation instructor for teenage boys.

I like to spend my time reading, climbing, and exploring the world . The photo of me was taken in Grand Teton National Park, just south of Yellowstone. I used to hike and climb in that area when I lived in Salt Lake City. If you don't know about the Tetons, look up some pictures!

I hope to hear from you!

Tor’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: St Johns College- Santa Fe - Bachelors, Philosophy; History of Math and Science

Test Scores

SAT Composite: 1900

Hobbies

Rock Climbing, reading, writing, meditating, studying, exploring new places, camping, learning languages, watching movies.

Tutoring Subjects

American Literature

AP Music Theory

College English

English

English Grammar and Syntax

ESL/ELL

Essay Editing

High School English

High School Level American Literature

High School Writing

Math

Middle School Reading Comprehension

Pre-Algebra

Psychology

Social Sciences

Writing


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

There are so many ways to increase motivation. Honestly, just talking about subjects out of the classroom is motivating. Discussing math, science, or writing with a living, breathing, new human being is a liberating and refreshing experience for many students. In addition to that, I think there are a few ways to increase motivation. They include using specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely (SMART) goals and building a personal relationship between students and the material. I like to use SMART goals with students because SMART goals make achievement easier and more tangible. By breaking down large, nebulous, long-term goals into specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely mini-goals, students can develop a sense of accomplishment and progress. Take, for example, writing an essay. One could break the large essay into smaller SMART goals. It could be something as small as writing one sentence every day. The student can easily meet the goal every day, and by the end of a week, have a solid paragraph finished. Chances are, once you've sat down and written one sentence, you'll find it worth your time to write another one or two. A second method is to make the subject matter relatable. This is an obvious approach that most teachers attempt to employ at some level. Tutors have a greater degree of freedom in how they can make subject material relate to a student and can specify their examples for each student. As such, tutored students have a greater chance of "buying into" a given subject. Once a student is brought in, they see personal value in progress--the motivation is self-fulfilling. Combining SMART goals with personal relevance is the ultimate goal. Students feel the personal investment that comes from relating to their coursework and the intrinsic satisfaction of meeting goals.

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

Before we start our academics, I'd like to get to know you. We'll talk about music, movies, sports, free time, general attitudes towards school and friends. Once we feel like we know each other a bit more, we'll talk broadly about the subject you need help with. We'll explore your experiences with the subject, what you like and dislike, and what problems have come up. I start out with more general questions because I believe in meeting students where they're at. I need to thoroughly understand how you think and feel about your subject. Only then can I help guide you get to where you want to be. Let me use a silly analogy. Let's say you tell me you need help driving to New York City. If I don't know where you're starting from, what kind of car you're driving, who you're with, and what happened before you called me, there's no way I can help you get there. You may have had your car blown up while on a ferry in Lake Erie. My showing up in New Orleans with jumper cables and a car seat isn't going to do much to get your burned out shell from the bottom of a Great Lake. It's the same thing with school. I can't help you learn to write if I don't know about your history with writing, how you like to write, what you like writing about, what your teacher is like, what you've already been taught, and what you want to learn. So in our first meeting, we will spend some time figuring out how to work together. Then we'll take a couple stabs at whatever specific thing you need help with. We'll discuss an initial approach to solving your issue, and start working on it. At the end of the meeting, I'll give you a simple, direct, and important assignment to work on. It'll be what is called a SMART Goal. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. The assignment may be something like once a day we could come up with a theory for something. It could be anything. It could be that the moon is made of cheddar cheese (preferably extra sharp). Then you have to come up with three reasons why the moon is made of cheese. And that's it. It's specific, it's measurable, it's achievable, it's realistic, and it's timely. By the next time we meet, you will have practiced coming up with the most important structure for any essay you write in high school.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Learning is always independent. You are always the only person who does the all the learning. I can't learn for you. The greatest problem with school is teaching students that they can't or don't learn outside of the classroom. Eventually, students begin to feel that they need a teacher or a tutor to learn anything. My goal in tutoring is to expand the conditions under which you try to learn. Leonardo Da Vinci, Walt Disney, Jimi Hendrix, Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers, and Benjamin Franklin all learned outside of the classroom. Abraham Lincoln, Booker T. Washington, Malcolm X, Bill Gates, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ray Bradbury, and Stanley Kubrick all learned outside of the classroom. These people are called autodidacts. That means they taught themselves without a formal education. The only thing that separates them from you is their belief that they COULD teach themselves. As a tutor, the number one thing I can do for your learning is to help you to believe in your own ability to learn on your own. That means developing your confidence. The truth is that most students are smart enough to learn and master any high school class. The problem is that they have not been given proper support and instruction. Without the support and instruction, many students don't do well in school. They then lose confidence. With decreasing confidence comes increasing dependence. The student feels that he or she is too stupid to figure out the issue independently. My job is to reverse the trend. I do this by breaking down problems into bite-sized chunks. Then I work with the student to figure out which chunks don't make sense, and why. Many times a student will feel that a problem is beyond he/she because he/she doesn't understand one small part of the problem. For example, a student may think that quadratic factoring is beyond his or her ability. In fact, they understand all of it but have never really understood multiplying exponents. However, due to thorough demoralization, they don't spend the time to figure out the real and simple problem. That's where I come in. I work with students to guide them through the process of problem-solving. When the student then figures out what he or she needs, the student feels the rush of confidence from having solved his or her own problem. When done repeatedly, the student can begin to think and learn more independently.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

There are so many ways to increase motivation. Honestly, just talking about subjects out of the classroom is motivating. Discussing math, science, or writing with a living, breathing, new human being is a liberating and refreshing experience for many students. In addition to that, I think there are a few ways to increase motivation. They include using specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely (SMART) goals and building a personal relationship between students and the material. I like to use SMART goals with students because SMART goals make achievement easier and more tangible. By breaking down large, nebulous, long-term goals into specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely mini-goals, students can develop a sense of accomplishment and progress. Take, for example, writing an essay. One could break the large essay into smaller SMART goals. It could be something as small as writing one sentence every day. The student can easily meet the goal every day, and by the end of a week, have a solid paragraph finished. Chances are, once you've sat down and written one sentence, you'll find it worth your time to write another one or two. A second method is to make the subject matter relatable. This is an obvious approach that most teachers attempt to employ at some level. Tutors have a greater degree of freedom in how they can make subject material relate to a student and can specify their examples for each student. As such, tutored students have a greater chance of "buying into" a given subject. Once a student is brought in, --that is, they see personal value in progress-- the motivation is self-fulfilling. Combining SMART goals with personal relevance is the ultimate goal. Students feel the personal investment that comes from relating to their coursework and the intrinsic satisfaction of meeting goals.

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

I would break down the problem into smaller steps and identify the weak links. I would also use analogies and examples from the student's life to build bridges of knowledge and confidence. I can also chunk teaching times into smaller, attainable segments to ensure mastery and work on pattern identification.