My goal as a teacher and tutor is to break concepts down to make things easier to understand. In other words, I don't want to make things harder than they need to be. I use technology as much as possible and like to find resources that I can provide to my students to make their academic careers more enjoyable and manageable. I retired from the US Navy in 2015 after serving for 22 years on active duty. I am enjoying my retirement and each opportunity I get to work with the wide variety of students here on Varsity.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Auburn University - Bachelors, English
Graduate Degree: Auburn University - Masters, Technical and Professional Communication - English
Reading; Collecting Rare Books.
College Application Essays
College Level American Literature
MCAT Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
High School English
High School Level American Literature
High School Writing
Middle School Writing
US Constitutional History
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I view teaching as a highly purposeful communication that occurs within the complex flow of human interactions. My primary goal is the crafting of clear and effective instruction materials to facilitate learning through discovery, exploration, and execution of learning activities. Using this as a foundation, I strive to reduce the difficulty that many students have learning to write well by breaking concepts down into the smallest chunks possible. To evaluate learning outcomes, I adapt various measures such as individual and collaborative work output; critical, creative and reflective writing (learning journals); writing portfolios; presentations utilizing multi-media technology; combined creative, reflective, critical thinking activities (written or verbal); student's contribution to discussions and feedback; various activities that apply multiple intelligence abilities; and concept summaries. With this at the core of my philosophy, I unceasingly strive to improve myself through reflective self-evaluations and I endeavor to keep my knowledge and expertise in our field updated. I value feedback from my students, mentors, superiors and colleagues to enhance my potential and capabilities in the teaching profession. Maintaining a non-threatening environment is also crucial to allow the productive flow of communication exchange between students and the instructor and among students themselves. Learning materials, activities, assessments and evaluations of learning outcomes must cater to the diverse learning styles, talents and capabilities, educational, social, and cultural backgrounds of students.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
The best way to ensure a student becomes independent is by providing the necessary resources to accomplish that goal. I believe in the idea of a learning tool bag. Each lesson I teach gives my students another tool to add to their bag. The same goes for resources. If I provide a grammar and mechanics resource, for example, that is another tool that they can add. Eventually, they will have enough tools to fix the issue(s) themselves.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Motivation comes from positivity. I strive to be positive with all my students, using the Socratic method whenever possible. This, in turn, helps to keep them positive which lends itself to better results.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
First, I would try to match the student with the appropriate learning style. Perhaps the student does not understand the process because they are a visual learner and the lesson does not lend itself to that learning style. Once I understand the learning style of the student, I break the concepts down into small pieces to make them easier to understand.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I work with the student to determine what it is they are having difficulty with. Are they having issues understanding basic sentence structure, or are they having trouble understanding what the sentence means? Once I understand that, I can better develop a plan of action to help the student with reading comprehension.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
The best strategy I have found is to find ways to connect with the student first. I try to find out a little about them. I call them by their first name. I ask them to call me by my first name. The goal is for them to trust that I am there to help them.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
First, I would make sure the student understand what I can and can't do for them as a tutor. Once that is complete, I would determine what the learning style of the student is and then work from there.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
If a student is not excited about a topic, it is because they have not found a way to connect with it. That is my goal as a tutor. Once they have connected with a subject, they will engage with it on a deeper level.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I use the "teach then show" strategy. It is something I learned in the Navy. I teach the lesson to the student, and then I ask them to teach it back to me. If they can do that, they have learned the lesson.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Confidence comes from feeling comfortable with the content they are learning. It also comes from an understanding that they don't have to be perfect in something to be confident.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
First, I compare what the student has asked for in their tutoring session with the requirements for the assignment, if they have provided that. Sometimes, what a student has asked for is different from what they need.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I change my approach based on the learning style of the student. If the student connects more as a visual learner, for example, then I would use more visual references to help meet their needs.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I like to provide handouts when I can. I also like to direct students to resources that they can use in the future and add to their learning tool bag. These resources help them with APA/MLA documentation, grammar and mechanics, and the writing process.