Hi, I love tutoring, and I've been doing it for a long time. This gives me the experience to know how to approach just about any challenge. I'm very personable, have a sense of humor, and I'm very creative. An important characteristic for a tutor to have is patience. That is ultimately one of my great strengths.
Another strength is pronunciation in English, both for adults & children. I speak other languages, so I pay close attention to pronunciation.
My background includes specialized training in brain growth and development, from crib to cane, basically. How can that help your child? Well, I really know how memory is formed, retained, and recalled, and what it looks like when something is not happening the way it should. I can usually pinpoint an issue quickly, and work in a slightly different way from other tutors.
For example, I once had a 3rd grader who wasn't reading fluently, and her comprehension was below grade level. Her mom said she had tried so many people and approaches, but no luck. I was able to find out what the problem was within 10 minutes, did a quick 15-min training, and sent her back to her mom who was beside herself in joy.
I enjoy working with primary age students because they still have a sense of wonder and awe about life. I have positive experiences describing/showing concepts to this age group, especially with manipulatives (hands-on materials).
I've raised two sons, who have been through Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland. In most years we are ranked either #1 or #2 in the nation. So I really can relate to many of the worries a parent can have. Just know that in the end, I make sure it's all good.
Please send any questions through Varsity Tutors.
I look forward to meeting you!
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of MD University College - Bachelors, Behavioral. Social Sci/Microbiology
Reading, Traveling, Memory Research. I have 3 long-haired cats and had a Jack Russell Terrier named Skippy.
College Application Essays
College Level American Literature
Elementary School Math
Elementary School Reading
Elementary School Science
Elementary School Writing
High School English
High School Level American Literature
High School Writing
ISEE-Lower Level Mathematics Achievement
ISEE-Lower Level Verbal Reasoning
ISEE-Lower Level Writing
ISEE-Middle Level Reading Comprehension
ISEE-Upper Level Mathematics Achievement
ISEE-Upper Level Quantitative Reasoning
Middle School Reading
Middle School Reading Comprehension
Middle School Science
Middle School Writing
Study Skills and Organization
What is your teaching philosophy?
For elementary students, for math and English, if a student is stuck on a concept, I try to bring a game or something hands-on, because most students at these ages still do well building with their hands to learn something. For all ages, I try to find out what a student's interests are, and figure out a way to teach through that subject. I also use every opportunity to use humor. Most students enjoy finding the humor in a situation or past experience.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
First I get to know the student, tell them a little about me, and suggest they ask me a question. I also find out about their academic situation. I always tell my students not to worry about questions--they should always ask because that's why I'm there, to help the student figure things out. No questions is to zany or absurd. After that, we go over problems or readings that have been difficult.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I have curriculum that I use, depending on exactly the situation. Most of the times a student lacks confidence to work on his/her own, they just need the proper tools, like establishing priority, making a checklist with due dates, etc. I usually watch them while they take small steps. I give them positive feedback when I see them working with confidence. Within two weeks or so, they should be independent, though it still takes ongoing practice as work gets more complicated.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I find out what subjects, activities, and hobbies the student likes. I also find out what kind of snacks they like. I talk to their parent to collaborate in offering a snack or other reward after doing consecutive days of work, or spending x amount of time. It really depends on age, maturity, personality. If they like art for example, I might make a deal that if they can do their homework all week, that I will stay extra to teach them something (Chinese Brush Painting, or the old-fashioned game with a string with ends knotted. Cat's cradle, for example). For middle or high school, I might ask them what they think would motivate them. If it's a ticket to a movie, I would talk to the parent about that. For very young students, sometimes a chart where they earn gold star stickers each day works well. I tie filling up the sticker chart with earning a bigger prize.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would try to think of using another sense to understand. For example, if a child is really having difficulty learning his/her multiplication tables, I might make a big number line and teach them how to skip count on the number line. Or if the student is a visual learner, I might assign each number a personality and tell a story of what happens when 2 numbers meet. For example, 4 is a sail boat, 7 is a cane. For 4 x 7 I would say a man with a cane had an appointment with another man on a sailboat. 7 x 4 = 28. 28 rhymes with "late." So when the man with the cane calls the man on the sailboat to make a meeting, the 4 says, "Don't be late! 7 x 4 = 28, so don't be late!" Some kids learn quickly when a story is told. There are more images to put into your mind.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
It depends on why they need help in comprehending. I had a student once who was in 2nd grade. She and her mom had read a fair number of books together. But when the student read on her own, she read aloud quite slowly, and did not always remember what the story was about. First of all, one should not ask the child to read aloud all the time. Very sporadically only. Reading aloud slows a child's reading speed way down. It is counter-intuitive, but if the child speeds up his or her reading, usually they comprehend more! I achieved this with my student by running my finger under each sentence while she read (to herself NOT aloud). I quickened my pace with my finger. I asked what she just read, after a page was done. She told me exactly! Then it was time for her to use her own finger to set the pace of her silent reading. When she finished, she told me the entire story. She had understood perfectly. The whole exercise took 15-20 minutes. Her mom was astounded; I called her a few years later--her daughter was still doing well, and above grade level in reading comprehension.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I like to use examples, preferably from real life, to illustrate the problem or situation. If it still is challenging for the student to understand, I have different types of manipulatives that I use to have the student build his/her own answer. Many times, things you can pick up and hold give you 3 pathways into the brain (vision, hearing the problem, and touching the blocks or magnets, etc.) A person can remember things better that are presented in multiple ways, or through different senses. Another strategy I use is mnemonics. If there is a rhyme or sentence that can facilitate the remembering, I introduce it. Or I make up my own, and try to make them funny, ridiculous or impossible (so much easier to remember then). The last thing I'll say for now is that I find out what the student is interested in or is crazy about. Then I try to teach through that subject. It becomes way more interesting for the student. Math problems can be made up around anything. Writing can be done using the favorite subject; I try pretty hard to find books on a panoply of items. Usually I find one that matches my student.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would ask what sorts of things does the student like, or is crazy about. Then I tutor the subject he/she is struggling in through the favorite subject. If there is a favorite sport, I try to use that. For example, Bobby is my student -- 3rd grade. He loves football but struggles with math. After making up a story about Bobby scoring a touchdown, I'd ask what would the score be if you scored 2 touchdowns in a row? His best friend George scores both extra points. I'd have him do skip counting by 7's to practice: 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49, 56, 63, 70, 77, 84. We'd practice (maybe with a virtual football if online) until we had it memorized. Repetition always helps in basic math.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Make up alternate, but similar problem. Ask the student to make up a similar problem for me to solve. If it's a writing assignment, draw your favorite part. Use the tutoring company's flashcards. Use problems from books I have. For reading comp, take shorter stories from my collection of books. Practice reading comprehension by writing 1-2 word notes in margins/extra paper. Create a paragraph (helps with reading comp if the student creates a story) using 3 really different words; for example: kite, silver box, blue.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Usually, it's built slowly, but it really depends on the situation. Normally, I get a feel for what is comfortable and what is not. I start with reading or math that is really comfortable, and work up slowly to more challenging levels. Sometimes I find out there is a specific issue that we need to address, and once it is, the floodgates open and the student becomes quite happy with him- or herself. I always take opportunities to point out improvements; first small ones, and later, the bigger ones. I believe in celebrating when something significant has been achieved. Usually I talk to the parent about rewarding the student with something significant (favorite dinner, favorite ice cream, favorite team's logo or hat, etc.).
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
By asking the student directly. Also, corroborating with a parent. Sometimes I tell the student a scenario and ask how he/she would react. I usually ask about teachers, what they do in class, and what kind of homework they are assigned. I also ask why they don't understand, or what is really hard for them. So, mostly I ask a bunch of questions, but not all in one day. Sometimes I ask the student how he/she would like to improve -- if they have any input. I usually confirm what I'm finding out about the student's needs to the student to see how they react. They usually are happy I'm getting it right, or they'll correct me if I'm off-base.