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John-Michael

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I love teaching! I received my B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles and my PhD from the University of California, Santa Barbara. I was a professor for 20 years. I taught at a number of institutions, including Bard and the University of California. I then left my professorship to start my own business, but a part of me still wants to teach! I like to figure out new and better ways to activate a student's talents, and I love figuring out how to adjust my methods to suit each student's individual abilities and needs.

John-Michael’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: University of California-Los Angeles - Bachelors, Philosophy

Graduate Degree: University of California-Santa Barbara - PHD, Philosophy

Hobbies

reading, music, sports, the great outdoors, learning about people and cultures

Tutoring Subjects

Adult Literacy

AP English Language and Composition

Composition

English Grammar and Syntax

Essay Editing

Ethics

Graduate Test Prep

GRE Analytical Writing

GRE Verbal

Law

LSAT Analytical Reasoning

Middle School Writing

Music

Philosophical Ethics

Philosophy

Piano

Social Sciences

Writing


Q & A

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

I would introduce myself and speak a bit informally with the student about what he is like as a person, what he enjoys, how he feels about school, what he feels he excels at, and what he feels needs help with.

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

By going slowly and breaking the reading process down into small manageable pieces, and then slowly reassembling those pieces.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I will generally ask a number of different, relatively simple questions. How a student answers a given question makes his comfort level clear, and depending on his comfort level, I will either persist in a given direction or try a new tack.

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

I generally like to use a text to anchor the discussion, but I don't like to cleave too closely to the text, especially if the student clearly has an aptitude for the material.

What is your teaching philosophy?

I like to understand students on their own terms. In that way, I can find a way to link their minds to any given body of material.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Generally, I start by asking the student simple questions. Once the student has established his ability to answer those, I increase the difficulty level just slightly. And so on, until the student has 'taken flight', so to speak.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Confident students are motivated students, and competent students are confident students. I motivate students by making then self-confident, and I make them self-confident by building up their competency.

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

I will approach that question in many different ways. If difficulties persist, I will move onto a different subject, and then, after while, revisit the problem-concept. Usually, the change in perspective enables the student to make some headway on that concept.

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

Starting small and building up. It is very important to have a firm foundation. Once that is there, steady progress is possible.

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

Students struggle when the material hasn't been properly explained. When material hasn't been properly explained, that is because it hasn't been broken down into its components. I help explain difficult concepts by breaking them down into small, easy-to-understand pieces.

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

I ask very simple questions that the student is certain to answer to correctly. Then I slowly work up to more difficult questions. If there are problems, I back-pedal to easier questions and then, once the requisite foundation has been laid, cautiously move onto a slightly higher level of difficult.

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

Confidence follows from competence, and competence follows from a mastery of foundational concepts. The most important concepts are actually the simplest ones, and I improve a student's competence, and therefore his level of confidence, in a given discipline by ensuring that he grasps its foundations.

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

Each student is different. I make sure that my tutoring techniques increase clarity and diminish confusion. In that way, I guarantee increased competence, and self-confidence, on the student's part.