I have been working as both an instructor and a tutor at the college level for the past six years. I hold a Bachelor's Degree in journalism and a Master of Fine Arts Degree in creative writing. Not only have I made writing and reading my life, but I have a passion for education and love helping others succeed. As a tutor, it is important to me that sessions are tailored for students' learning styles to help best serve them. That being said, I am not someone who will do your homework or line-edit your essay-- I expect to work together to learn and maintain the skills needed to succeed in a course or complete an assignment. My goal is to become obsolete; I want students to gain the skills they need so that they no longer require tutoring.
Aside from writing and reading, I take interest in other subjects like study skills (time management, self-care), gender studies, and media studies. When I'm not working, you can find me walking in nature, attending a poetry reading, or watching either very good or very bad television.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: California State University-Northridge - Bachelors, Journalism
Graduate Degree: San Francisco State University - Masters, Creative Writing
Writing, Reading, Watching Movies and TV, Art Making, Hiking, Spending Time with Friends, Traveling and Seeing New Places
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe in equitable teaching, where student and teacher can look eye to eye. I believe students should know why what they are learning is important, and that "because I said so" is not a good enough reason. I also believe that learning is one of life's great pleasures, and that being curious and wanting to do better makes us better people. That's why I try and tailor my tutoring sessions to a student's interests, so they feel they have a real investment in their education.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I want to find out what a student likes doing in school, as well as what their interests are outside of it. If a student is having difficulty with a subject, I would like to hear, in their words, why. I also want to know what their goals are to get better at a subject. Then we can work together to help them get there.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
It all starts with asking questions. Just giving students answers does not a tutor make, and it does not benefit a student in the long run. By asking students questions throughout our sessions, it teaches them to ask those questions on their own.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
It is hard to keep a student motivated, particularly if they dislike or are intimidated by a subject. Ways to keep a student motivated will differ depending on the student, but I think one of the best ways is to show them how a subject will be relevant to their long-term goals and ambitions. Or, depending on the session, it might be enough to let them know that they can relax with a movie or a video game after putting hard work into our tutoring session.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
You just have to take it one word at a time. Reading is a process. If we understand what a single word means, we can go on to the next one, then the next, etc. Soon we'll have a sentence. It helps to ask a student to repeat back to you what the sentence is trying to say in their own words; then you'll know if they understood it. You have to start with little steps, and after you do, you can start taking bigger ones until you're walking like it's nobody's business.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I definitely try and center a student's personal interests in a session. If a student is having difficulty reading, give them something to read that interests them. It doesn't matter if it's a magazine, a book, or the back of a cereal box--as long as they are interested in what they are reading. Similarly, when it comes to writing, part of the fun of the writing process is being able to use your own voice and talk about what interests you. Plus, you get the added bonus of learning about something you are already interested in.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I said it before and I'll say it again: repetition is key. Asking a student to repeat something back to you in their own words is the simplest and most effective way to determine whether or not they understand the information. I use all different methods to make sure a student is understanding material. For younger students, I start with flashcards, and sometimes I bring up vocabulary words from a couple of weeks before just to see if they still remember the words' meanings. For older students, I take concepts like essay structure and ask them to apply them to a subject separate from the one assigned to them.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
It is important to tell a student when they have done something well. Even in really difficult sessions, it is important to affirm their efforts and praise them for working hard, even if it is frustrating. I also genuinely believe that any student can succeed when given the right tools and attention, and I let my students know that the potential they have to master a subject already exists inside of them.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Apart from asking them what they would like help with, I test to see where students' reading and writing levels are through introductory exercises that let me also get to know a little bit about them. I might ask them to fill out an evaluation where they write about their favorite place or favorite thing to do, and then I'll see what their writing habits are. I might ask them to read aloud from something at, above, or below grade level. I also take notes during and after sessions about students' working habits, noting whether they are easily distracted, what kind of environment they may work best in, etc. It is also very important that I ask students how they best take in information, whether they are visual, auditory, kinesthetic learners, etc.